Sara Blakely: Five lessons in smarter thinking

Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely Credit: SPANX

Our Smarter Thinking guest editor, SPANX Founder Sara Blakely, has made a career out of thinking differently, and became one of the world’s youngest ever self-made female billionaires in the process. How does she do it? Here’s five simple lessons in smarter thinking.

1. I’m a big believer that working “smart” doesn’t have to look a certain way. In fact, it can look the total opposite, it can look ridiculous!

Many people worry so much about looking a little silly that they don’t take the risks required to achieve their full potential. Sara believes that smarter thinking isn’t tied to one way of working, or behaving. Find what works for you – even if that seems a little strange to other people – and go for it.

2. Get curious. Be open to the possibility that your way could be a better way

Just because things are a certain way, doesn’t mean that is the best, most effective or productive way. And it certainly doesn’t mean it can’t change. Sara encourages us all to be inquisitive, to step out of our comfort zones, open our eyes and find the opportunities that surround us – if we just take the time to get curious.

3. Ask the right questions, be open to the answers – and work hard for your ideas

Ever sit listening in a meeting, hearing a talk, watching a video or talking with a friend and have a question you want answered? Ask it. Don’t worry about how you might come across, let your curiosity get the better of you. Sara urges us not only to ask questions but to really listen to the answers and be open to responses we might not expect. It’s all about working hard to stimulate your ideas, and eventually bring them to life.

4. One of the biggest killers of smarter thinking is a lack of courage. To think smarter, you have to buck the status quo

Let’s face it: changing the way you think and act is a scary concept. It would be a lot easier to plod along in the direction we are already heading. But Sara warns off embracing this comfort – it’s a killer of smarter thinking. Be brave, be bold, and be original.

5. When your lightbulb moment happens, congratulations! That’s when the real work begins

Using smarter thinking to find your big idea is one thing – and it’s a huge thing. Celebrate your success, congratulate yourself and enjoy the moment. But don’t kid yourself. Now you have your concept, a long road lies ahead. It’s time to get planning, get strategising, get moving and get doing.

Read Sara’s guest editor letter for more of her thoughts on thinking differently, and head over to our Spotlight series to continue investigating smarter thinking.

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