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It was Steve Jobs who observed, "innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." In the current climates of sport & business, innovation is also a central element in the recipe for future success-if not downright survival. So then, what is needed to be innovative?

A provocative study has found a healthy relationship between innovative behavior and the personality characteristics of optimism and self-efficacy. In other words, people who are positive and hopeful, along with believing in their ability to be creatively effective, are likely to be innovators. Interestingly, the research also found that those who hold optimistic attitudes have a deeper sense of creative self-efficacy, which in turn, further facilitates their innovative behaviors.

In short, people who see current conditions as ripe for improvement are likely to think they have the ability to discover these alternatives, and thus go for it-they are the innovators. The research clearly supports the admonition of one of the world's greatest innovators, Thomas A. Edison, who said simply "There's a way to do it better-find it."


Li, C-H., Wu, J-J. (2011). The Structural Relationships Between Optimism and Innovative Behavior: Understanding Potential Antecedents and Mediating Effects. Creativity Research Journal, 23(2), 119-128, 2011


Larry Hart

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