The Embodied Innovation Mindset


So I've been thinking.

And I have lots of questions.  They start with body shame and lead to a theory of innovation so strap yourself in this will be a bit of a wild ride through my mind.

The question and logic thread begin here.

If 80% of women over 18 are struggling with body shame, then they are battling the very tool that brings their gifts to the planet.  Without a body, our mind doesn't exist on this plane so we need it to manifest our creative ideas in the world.

So this logic has led me to the following chain of questions:

  • What unexamined force has taught us to hate on our greatest gift?
  • How can we make sure that our daughters aren't similarly handicapped?
  • How do you unlearn a mindset that feels like footbinding but of the creative spirit?
  • Is body shame an inherited historical trauma tool to remove feminine power from the world and if so how do we most effectively break that tool?
  • Is the current environmental crisis due to a suppression of balancing female creative force and a focus on the mind untempered by the heart and the gut?
  • If so, how do we restore the balance?

This is been the swirl in my mind for a few decades and over the past few years of research and field-testing  I have come up with a theory on the passage of creative energy through us in the form of a birthed innovation.

I call it the Embodied Innovation Theory (4 brain model).

And it is what I think. if taught early and deep enough, could help innoculate girls from developing deep body shame and can also help them to become effective innovators.  Which will, based on the predictions of the World Economic Forum, be the skill set they need to be more employable than a robot, when they graduate from a school system initially designed to train for jobs that AI is replacing.

This is the framework that I teach in Click Happy and it is the theory that I am evolving in my Masters of Social and Community Leadership at Auckland University.

The theory explained

The journey of an idea born into the world through us follows a pathway that moves in a Koru(spiral) pattern through our body.

First, the idea enters our mind.  From where?  That is for the mystics and geniuses to unravel.  But into our 1st of 4 brains, it enters.


The Head Brain:

This is where mindset, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative thinking, curiosity, and openness play a role in helping us to develop a question or a vision to express to others.  It is just one of 4 brains necessary for a holistic birth of our ideas into the world.  Here is where we do the heaving lifting of toying with an idea until we develop it into a vision that is important enough to draw to it the help necessary to bring it to life.

The spiral pattern comes from taking the idea from "the ether" and pulling it into our mind and swirling it around rotating between ideation and critical thinking.  This is the tiny part of the spiral of the koru.


The Heart-Brain:

Once you have that idea or question clear enough to yourself you need to have the skills to take it out of your brain and put it into the minds of others.  To bring in a trusted community to help you flesh out a robust solution to the problem or question.   If you skip this part and just go to make the thing on your own.  You will often be disappointed with the reception of the idea because it only had the energy of one mind behind it.  Not your full four brains with the synergy of others fueling it.  If you build a community around the idea and around the vision you feed energy into the idea and this helps it to evolve into something that is more needed in the world.

This means building your relationship muscles.  And that starts with yourself.  What level of self-compassion do you have.  The lower you have learned to treat yourself the lower the level of power you have to make cool stuff in the world.  So the first innovation technique at the heart level is to work on your self-compassion.  This kindness based relationship with yourself acts as a model for your relationships with others.   It is all about creative energy.  Lower levels of self-compassion create shorts in your creative energy just as treating your team like a jerk will decrease the amount of energy they will give you to make your thing.

Unkind self-judgement can act as an assassin of our ideas when they are just wee baby ideas.  Not cool.   Even the research is starting to show that self-compassion can help lead to being more creative (See the work of Karen Bluth).

Rule of thumb with building a creative team  '

  • Work with people who are smarter than you in their area of expertise.
  • Make sure that their values align with your own (this can take time to suss out).
  • Learn to very clearly articulate your vision and check-in that they get it and are rowing in the same direction relatively frequently.
  • Always treat them as ends of themselves never as means to your ends. (don't ask for their support without identifying the similar value you can offer them in return, without balance here the relationship is unlikely to continue or will drain future energy through dysfunction.)
  • Care. Get to know them as people first, useful colleagues second.

The Guts Brain

As with all labour and deliveries, there is a price to pay.  Anything worth doing, anything that will actually move the dial of change requires you to stretch out of your comfort zone.  This means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  With feeling like an imposter most of the time. If you are doing stuff that stretches you beyond what you already know and is reaching for something better you will feel a sense of "what the heck am I thinking, who am I to do this."  That is a great sign you are doing work that actually matters.  If it all feels easy and cruisy you are not shifting the dial enough for it to matter and you are probably consuming more than you are adding value.  The world needs more creators not consumers at the moment so my not so subtle advice is to pull finger and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

To be effective in your work there are some values that if they are violated your capacity to do work that matters suffers.  They are muscles that require building.

  • Responsibility
  • Ethics
  • Accountability
  • Courage
  • Grit
  • Integrity
  • Comfort with Discomfort
  • Intuition

Intuition is often beaten out of us as kids, through swallowed judgements of others, and misguided discipline.  It happens by having your feelings dismissed, belittled, or repressed.  It can take a bit of time to start to tune back into your gut response to things.   But it is there.  You just need to listen.  This part of you speaks in emotions not clear thoughts.  You can begin tuning in by asking yourself a question and mentally checking in with your gut.  Do you feel energy rising in you at the idea or draining out?  That is the first thing to learn to sense.  If energy is draining you might want to go back and modify something in your approach to your idea until you get that feeling of energy rising.


The Ground Brain

This is the collective brain. Where the me becomes Mwe.  This is where you have to develop courage and detachment.  Understanding that ideas are born through you but they are not you.  That what you put out into the world is a gift done with your best of intentions but it is at this stage that you lose control of how the world will respond to your idea.  They may be ready for it or they may not.  That is okay.  Your only job is to stay curious.  To watch how it unfolds.  Make changes as necessary and start the process all over again.  This is where you get comfortable with failing forward into the next iteration of the idea.  Something didn't work.  Cool, that is great information for the next go-round.  No self-flagellation.  No unnecessary draining of your creative energy by tying the current version of the idea's success to your value as a human.  Instead, shift your mindset to one of curious excitement about the next better version you now have more insight into.

At the ground stage, you take time to recharge your batteries.  Do some self-care and reevaluate your next move.  Self-care is key because it refills the energy tanks for the next iteration.


This is the broad strokes of the theory. 

My favourite parts though are the pragmatic steps you can take to find balance and get out of your own way at each level.  That will come in future blogs and ultimately a book.  But for now, I will blog bits and pieces around testing it out in my classes.


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