Take a minute to scan the montage of images I've collected above. What emotions do they evoke, and what thoughts do they bring to mind for you?
As I look at them, here are the adjectives bouncing around my head: alive, vibrant, crisp, beautiful, engaged, dynamic, iconoclastic, memorable, deep, intriguing, ingenious, timeless.
To pull this montage together, I made quick list of the people, ideas, and objects which have made an impression on me over the years, and then I selected a subset which represented the whole of the list. If you ask me about any of them, I could spend the better part of an hour explaining how they've created meaning for me, how they've influenced the course of my life, how they represent what's good in the world. Your list is undoubtedly different — it should be different — and you may question my taste (yes, I do have an abiding fascination with cars shaped like an Air Jordan shoe), but I'd encourage you to take five minutes now (yes, now!) and jot down your own list.
Are you done?
I'd love to hear about your list. Even without being able to see it, I'd argue the following: every choice on your list represents a person who made choices. A person who knew what they wanted and what they did not, what mattered and what did not, a person who was able to listen to everyone but then do what they thought was right. In other words, a person with a point of view.
What is a point of view? Simply put, it is a crisp accounting of what matters which allows one to say no. In the process of trying to bring cool stuff to life, it is so easy to say yes to everything. It's much harder to say no to the things that don't matter in the end, and that's where the art part of the equation plays out. But I can say one thing definitively: if you don't have a firm point of view about what matters, your chances of doing something remarkable drop to zero. Great things happen when we make choices, and we make good choices when we know what we want.
Above all else, you must have a point of view. Don't leave home without it.
This is number nineteen in a series of evolving principles of innovation. As always, I humbly seek your feedback, critique, and better ideas.