I can distinctly recall a discussion from my first real job. It was with a Regional Vice President, named Jim, who was about 4 levels above my direct supervisor. This was at a Fortune 100 organization, so being fresh out of college and having a serious discussion with a leadership team member was kind of a big deal. I had recently voiced my opinion on our current processes and procedures for time service standards at a large national conference. I offered several new ideas to evolve our standards. Jim called me a few weeks later to personally thank me for speaking up. And although most of my ideas were not feasible at the time or just bad, one of my ideas he loved and was already beginning to implement.
I wanted to discuss further my “bad ideas” that Jim said were not feasible, but he was too busy and basically ended the phone call with “Keep bringing me ideas – for every 20 bad ideas, hopefully 1 will be good.” I remember getting off the phone and being discouraged, thinking “Wow, what is that supposed to mean – 1 out of 20 is a good batting average?” Little did I know, this would be my first serious discussion on being an innovative leader.