This issue of EXPLORER has focused on exploration innovation. Our stories covered new technologies that help you better find oil and natural gas, and we discussed new ways of thinking, looking for new approaches to age-old problems.
I'd like to close this month spending a few moments talking about personal reinvention – a type of innovation that each of us should be engaged in during these tumultuous times in our industry.
While driving to work this morning, I was listening to a podcast featuring Peter Diamandis, a Harvard-trained physician, serial entrepreneur and techno-enthusiast who is perhaps best known as the founder and creator of the X Prize Foundation.
The X Prize Foundation is dedicated to harnessing the power and ingenuity of the "crowd" to tackle significant global issues or challenges, ranging from jump-starting private space flight to improving adult literacy.
And as Diamandis explained on the podcast, while our passions – the things we care deeply about – can be a powerful motivator as we develop our career, the problems we encounter in life can create even greater levels of motivation, spurring us to do things differently, to develop new solutions.
Or as he put it, "problems can be gold mines."
But how do you do that? How do you turn problems into gold? Because when I'm confronting a problem I struggle to see anything beyond how it bothers me.
It does require a shift in mindset, according to Diamandis – and that requires conscious choice.
In the same way that your brain ignores the fire extinguisher on the wall until someone yells "Fire!" Diamandis explains, you have to actively engage the problem differently, from an alternative vantage point.
That is a valuable and necessary skill to develop and hone.
We know that the current downturn is going to require innovation. Whether it is figuring out the next career step after a lay-off, or keeping a company afloat in the face of low prices and tremendous uncertainty, each of us is going to have to change in the coming year.
Sometimes that process of change is exhilarating. We envision a new future, develop an innovative plan of action and step out boldly to begin building a new future propelled by a sense of possibility.
Sometimes, though, the process of change is slow and plodding. And when it turns out that the plan of action is unrealistic and won't accomplish your objective, it's frustrating and demoralizing.
And then the fears set in and you hear that little voice that says it's hopeless, sapping what little resolve you have left.
I don't know about you, but I can cycle through these emotions – from exhilaration to fear – in just a matter of minutes!
So when you're caught in the grip of fear how do you create the mental space to look at the problem objectively and find a solution?
This requires another shift in mindset and perspective.
One way to shift perspective is to stop focusing on problems, and instead focus on things you are grateful for. There's a reason why fostering a spirit of gratitude is an essential aspect of many religious and spiritual traditions – it takes our focus off ourselves!
Here in the United States we set aside the fourth Thursday of November to celebrate Thanksgiving.
And while travel delays, American football and early Christmas shopping dominate the headlines, the original purpose of Thanksgiving was to celebrate a bountiful harvest. In these less agrarian times, it allows us to focus on things that really matter in life – and to give thanks for them.
"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys," wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."
Gratitude does not eliminate problems or fear. But it does help us see those things from a different perspective. And that different vantage point may enable us to see a solution, to innovate a path forward.
It can give us strength to carry on during tough times.