Personality Characteristics of Successful Inventors
Successful inventors know more than just a technical sequence of steps. Beyond that, what really makes them successful is the personality characteristics they possess. They have a mindset that enables them to make the right decisions when they need to be made. While this is a bit harder to learn and master than the steps of a process, it is no less important. In fact, it may actually be more important. That being the case, let’s explore what some of these vital personality characteristics are.
1) Developing a bias towards action.
By far the most beneficial characteristic of successful inventors is having a bias towards action. Very simply, this is a shift in thinking where you are more inclined to do something than do nothing. When an opportunity presents itself, you move quickly and intelligently to capitalize on it. When a problem arises, you act just as quickly to neutralize it and minimize the damage. This is a major change from the habits of non-successful inventors (and non-successful people in general), who are usually happy to twiddle their thumbs while waiting for answers to serendipitously appear.
This is fatal to your chances of success. Therefore, you should make it your business to develop a bias towards action as quickly as possible.
2) Being decisive.
Going hand in hand with the a bias toward action is the habit of being decisive. As an inventor, you are the point man, the rainmaker, the go-to guy. You don’t have a CEO, human resources department, or labor union to bail you out when things go wrong. It’s you or bust, and that makes being decisive an absolute must. Again, this is more of a mentality than a step-by-step process. You need to feel ice in your veins when the time comes to make a big decision, being prepared to stake everything on the choice you ultimately make. As the great philosopher Ayn Rand wrote,
“An inventor is a man who asks ‘why?’ of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.”
3) Having integrity.
One of the biggest reasons people strike out on their own to invent stuff is they want to escape the backstabbing, soul-crushing, opportunistic corporate world. They didn’t want to BS and backbite their way to retirement. Integrity is very important to them, and should be to you.
Therefore, you want to be percieved as a man of your word.You never know who you are going to need a favor from. The person you you talked down last year might be in a position to make or break you someday. Plus, it’s just bad form to screw people in order to succeed. Stay true to your principles at all times and you will have mastered a crucial success habit.
4) Staying focused on your main goals.
Focus is another “state of mind” characteristic that you must work at if you don’t already have it. Very simply, it means devoting the most time to the things that move your goals closer to realization. Direct marketer John Carlton has a term for this: Operation Moneysuck. As he explained it, top copywriters were wasting their time if they worked on anything that didn’t bring in the money. They were not making money when they were fixing the copier, arguing on the phone with vendors, or issuing a refund.
The top inventors intuitively know this.
They know that every second they spend on other things is time they aren’t spending on finishing, packaging, and marketing their product. Adopt the same mindset and you will be well ahead of the curve.
5) Loyalty to your goals
This might seem like the same thing as staying focused on your goals, but it’s really not. Loyalty to your goals is what you need when a seemingly (but not actually) better opportunity arises. As human beings, it’s easier to take your eye off the ball. Especially when you get caught up in what seems cool and glamerous right now. But if you want to succeed as an inventor, you cannot succomb to this temptation. John Carlton elaborates:
“But when you have a set of goals to measure any incoming opportunity against, you know exactly what to do. If the opportunity moves you closer to your goal, then you jump on it. If it doesn’t… well, you’re allowed to reconsider your fundamental goals, but when you’re dead set on something specific (like being an entrepreneur) then it’s easy to let even hot opportunities go (like taking another job with The Man, regardless of how attractive the salary is).”
For an inventor, this means ignoring naysayers who tell you your dream is hopeless. It means listening to your own inner voice instead of surrendering it to people who want you to drag you down to their level.
6) Developing Strong ‘Why’s’
Why are you an inventor? Why are you inventing what you are inventing? Answering these questions – really, firmly, no-doubt-about-it answering them – will take you a long way toward following through on steps 4 and 5. One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they never had good reasons for setting them. Maybe they picked an arbitrarily high goal to impress their friends or family. Maybe they picked a goal they intuitively know is impossible to reach, so they give up. The solution is setting goals that are A) realistic and B) you actually want and need to achieve.
Think it through in such depth that you can recite your reasons at 3AM when someone pulls you out of a dead sleep and demands to know what they are. Once you are this resolved in why you are doing something, you will be virtually unstoppable.
Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company and the parent company of IdeaBuyer.com. IdeaBuyer.com is a marketplace for new technology and products that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers.