Apply creativity to your role…always

Whether it is life, strategic direction for the company, or the next project, my internal questions have always been:
• Do I want to follow in footsteps, or do I want others following mine?
• Does the company pay me to think like others or to create my own thoughts and actions?

Whether intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, creativity is a key component of success and career satisfaction.

“But I’m not creative!” Malarkey. You just haven’t given yourself permission to be creative. Over time, society and self-preservation has taught us to “play it safe” go “by the book” and be “risk-averse”. However, this stifles your natural creativity and limits your potential in all aspects of your life.

The first step in tapping your natural creativity is giving yourself permission to think big and dream.

Giving yourself permission to think big or dream will guide your thoughts and actions toward the reasons you were really hired: starting and completing new projects, shifting directions and planning new initiatives, developing the future of the company. It also allows you to plan the direction your work life will take. That’s the fun about internal brainstorming, no one will tell you why not, or how it cannot be done.

Brainstorming is brainstorming, without being inhibited.

Even though there may be some jobs where creating new boxes may not be encouraged, this should not stop you from integrating this into your routine. Personal growth and development is a process you should always make time for. What a better way than by creating and dreaming to influence and building into you. Thinking big and dreaming can help you and your company, today and in the future.

Most people think their next job movement will be up, of course. But we challenge you to think wide and high, not on the limitations but the possibilities. Think about merging your current or future skills into what will bring you the most experience and self-satisfaction. Motivated employees are always high performers; even if there goals lie outside the current work environment.

Action: Make a list of the skills you have today, then on top of the paper put where you want to get. What’s the perfect job for you; a role you want to challenge yourself to be in the future? Start brainstorming the possibilities and areas to move toward that top future goal. This may involve getting experience outside of your current employer or profession, but don’t forget to think creatively about things you can do within your current setting. Remember that no one is stopping you – except yourself.

This is a great exercise to go through with a mentor. The mentor’s experience can help to identify creative paths to your goal. And, discussing your goal can help you clarify what it is you really want. Who knows, your mentor might already have an opportunity that’s a perfect fit!

Now, repeat this exercise for your team and your organization. Don’t be surprised if there are ideas that apply to all three domains.

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Don’t respond to email…yet

Most people attempt to maximize productivity by taking a reactive approach and diving into the small tasks at hand. We get involved with the tasks of the day much too soon. And before we know it, the day is over. We then wonder why we cannot get the really large projects started, or feel as if there are not enough hours in the day to even complete the little things.

News Flash- there will always be enough little things to grab your attention, but those will not ultimately help you achieve your personal goals.

Bestselling authors Tim Ferris (The Four Hour Workweek) and David Allen (Getting Things Done) both point to a reactive approach to task management as a source of stress and reduced productivity. Deliberate work, however, frees you to focus your creativity and energy on what really matters.

Action: Therefore, don’t start your day by listening to voicemails or opening emails. Instead close your door, take out a piece of paper, look around the room or out the window and think about the next “big” thing you need to do.

  • Is it a specific strategic direction to take?
  • A project that you have thought about before?
  • Data gathering that could help guide analysis or decision?
  • It could even be just the few items to complete today.

10-15 minutes is all you need

Don’t limit your thoughts or have expectations on developing something from your notes. Once you stop limiting or trying to tie a thought to a project, the more open or creative you will become.

Giving yourself permission each day will hopefully allow you to cleanse the diminutive. After repeating each day for 10-15 mins this will replicate a period for you to expand and develop you and your thoughts. This will be a time to think about new ideas and challenge assumptions. Write down your thoughts. Who cares what it looks like or says? These are your thoughts. After a few of these sessions, you can start to direct and prioritize. Then they will become actions. If getting started with something is always the problem, here you go, you’ve begun. Now focus and the planning will start.