If I said “Innovators innovate” you’d probably say, “obviously!” It sure sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But remember, common sense isn’t always common practice. Have you ever met someone who is a true innovator who only uses proven technology in her own life? I find it telling when people who profess to be innovative aren’t themselves willing to take risks on new technologies in ANY realm.

We all like to think that we’re innovative. But innovation only happens with risk. You can’t truly be innovative at work unless you have some risk tolerance outside of work. For example, I’m terribly risk averse when it comes to matters of finance, but I’m very risk tolerant when it comes to personal humiliation – I’ll try any sport, activity or karaoke song! I love new technology…while I won’t be the FIRST person in line to get a new technology, I’m usually in the first 10-15% of people to try technologies that will address my needs. Do some of them fail me? Absolutely. But with each trial (and failure) I learn a little about my own processes, about product specifications, and about the market.

An example: I worked with a team tasked with reinventing a healthcare process and specific technology within a year after the Apple Watch was released. The Apple Watch – a wearable device is designed to cement a customer’s relationship with Apple by making their infrastructure critical to daily life. (Total. Genius. Marketing.) The general reaction from many leaders of the team to the Apple Watch I owned was, “huh, you really think that’s gonna fly?” That should have been a red flag for me that the mindset of the organization for which I was supposed to be providing market guidance was not innovation forward. This is now my new “trendy tech test” – do people who say they want to innovate take PERSONAL risks with technology? If not, can they effectively persuade customers to do so?

So, in the spirit of the new year and a fresh start, take a look at your self, your life and your surroundings. What new technology do you have? How friendly are you with new technology and new processes? When was the last time you shook up your own life – at home or at work? If it was recently… did your shake up work? If not, what did you learn? If you haven’t changed anything or tried anything new, why not? For many people, fear of failure can hold them back. But the thing is, failure when you’re doing something new can at least teach you something.

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.

– Victor Kiam, entrepreneur and former owner, New England Patriots