The rise of technology has created major shifts within our society; from our professional to personal to political spaces, every one of these has experienced significant changes. It certainly goes without saying that the shift in today’s marketing world is a direct result of technological advancements.
The fluidity of our marketing environment has created a need for professionals to adjust how they think and perform. Marketers today must move differently and think of ways to navigate through and thrive in such a disruptive age.
Related Video: Leonard Mlodinow: “Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change”
Video by Talks at Google
Concerns from a Digital Talent Agency: Are You Lacking in Elastic Thinking?
In his book Elastic, Leonard Mlodinow breaks down the concept of elastic thinking, and how necessary it is for every individual to exercise it. He believes elastic thinking is the capability humans naturally have to think flexibly in ways that allow us to manifest our inherent creativity. Mlodinow states that “we use ordinary analytical/logical thinking to apply rules, but we use elastic thinking to invent them, or to realize that we must break them. It’s what we need to both adapt to change, and to create it. Logical thought can determine how to drive from your home to the grocery store most efficiently, but it’s elastic thought that gave us the automobile.”
Mlodinow explores the continuous waves of changes and “paradigm shifts” we encounter in our personal and professional lives, and the ways of thinking that allow us to best approach them. Mlodinow argues “it’s just a matter of recognizing the needed skills and nurturing them.”
Elastic thinking allows us to tap into the unknown and think of ingenious ideas. It’s what drives innovative, imaginative, and disruptive change, and introduces transformational ideas into the world. It’s often what drives revolutionary breakthroughs and creates small startups that bloom into billion-dollar businesses.
For marketers, it’s time to let go of existing comfort zones and reach beyond the boundaries of the ordinary, conventional mindsets we often restrict ourselves to. Below, we took inspiration from Mlodinow’s ways for approaching elastic thinking and have tailored them specifically for marketers (at all levels) in hopes of furthering their professional growth.
Lifelong Learning Is the Ultimate Commitment
Generally, for career development at all levels, you must seek lifelong learning to be well-rounded and competitive. As a digital talent agency, we believe lifelong learning and elastic thinking go hand in hand for marketers who strive to continuously cultivate their careers.
We find that senior-level marketers hit a standstill in growth because they find themselves “too busy” to learn or even in auto-pilot mode because they’re stuck in conventional ways. Whether you’re a beginning marketer or an experienced CMO, the ongoing pursuit of knowledge is something you need at all experience levels. That involves adjusting your learning and behavior patterns.
Lifelong learning is the ultimate goal every marketer must commit to; to fulfill and maximize their personal and professional lives. However, it’s particularly valuable for marketing executives who want to employ effective leadership.
Elastic thinking allows you to expand your mind to greater possibilities and opportunities. As a result, you’ll be even more motivated to continually educate yourself on new ideas and concepts. You will find that the commitment to lifelong learning is enhanced once you are able to train your mind to be receptive to non-conventional ideas and think beyond your comfort zone.
The Key to Growing Your Marketing Career to the Next Level
Left and Right-Brain Balance Is Key
Analytical skills are incredibly important in marketing, especially with the constant influx of data and technology. However, elastic thinking is just as important as logical thinking when it comes to effective marketing. While the left side of your brain provides more conventional and rational solutions, the right side presents brilliant and inventive ideas.
Marketers who are just stepping into the professional world must strive to maintain a balance between their creative and analytical sides. When the sensors in your brain are choosing what comes to consciousness, it can be tough for the creative side of your mind to win in order to let the most ingenious ideas to come to light.
A Relaxed Mind Empowers Creativity
Marketers are extremely busy and in a very fast-paced environment, it’s vital to relax your mind and to take the time to unleash your best ideas. Mlodinow states that “your brain is an idea machine, but most are generated in your unconscious, and never make it to your awareness because they are ‘filtered out’ by the ‘executive’ part of your brain.”
As discussed in our previous point, great ideas are often compressed or hidden behind our logical thinking. While being highly attentive and focused is important, it may cause your brain to be on a high alert. It may often be the craziest idea to solve a specific situation or problem. However, if your brain filters it out, it’ll never come to surface.
A relaxed mind activates elasticity, allowing it to generate unique ideas with no inhibitions or filters holding your creativity back. These filters tend to relax when you’re mentally exhausted or when your analytical mind is burnt out.
Take charge of your brain and the way you think, allow your mind to wander, and try to remove restrictions you subconsciously hold. Taking a break from heavy mental work and possibly doing light physical activity is a great way to do so.
Be Open and Tolerant of Failure
One of the most reiterated principles that encompasses successful elastic thinking is to rid yourself of assumptions and understandings so that you can be open to new information.
In a space as dynamic as marketing, you will come across people and opinions who differ from your own. Rather than shunning these as ‘wrong’ simply because you don’t agree with them, reflect and try to understand why others may believe in them. Hearing perspectives and opinions that may be different from your own actually open up the horizons and help you think more creatively.
Oftentimes, success comes with failure. Accept that it may take a few tries to succeed at something. Many ideas you come up with may be a completely wrong solution to something. However, don’t hesitate to pursue something that might seem crazy at first; it may actually be something that ends up to be groundbreaking and life-changing.
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Don’t Overlook Bottom-Up Thinking and Collaboration
Mlodinow views elastic thinking as bottom-up thinking, where “insights percolate into the mind, seemingly from nowhere.”
For marketers at the executive level, elastic thinking additionally encourages reverse mentoring. Senior-level marketers who are in charge of growth and leading teams, find adapting to digital difficult. When they were in positions of middle management and execution, they weren’t charged with executing strategy through digital channels – simply because these channels weren’t advanced as they are now. But things are different now, forcing many executives to lead teams and tackle marketing functions they aren’t so familiar with.
As important it is to allow bottom-up thinking within your own mind, encourage bottom-up collaboration with your organization. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who may have less experience than you on something that you don’t know much about. Neglecting to do so restricts you from growth and lifelong learning, which is critical in top marketing leaders.
In order to bring brilliant ideas to life, you must first be open to broader horizons. Elastic thinking is what helps us successfully adapt and drive change.
This way of thinking isn’t just for marketers who are striving to establish their credibility as an expert, but for leaders with extensive experience under their belt. The responsibility of leading and being able to manage people in a demanding space is far more effective and rewarding with a commitment to elastic thinking and lifelong learning.