I remember listening to an author once (sorry I can’t recall who it was!) who was asked about how she dealt with critics of her work. She replied, “I go where I am loved.” Most of us already have really well developed inner critics and so we don’t need to seek them out. Going where we are loved to find an audience for our work and our style (whatever work that might be!), leaves more energy to continue developing ourselves. Continually going down a path with people who don’t appreciate who we are leaves us demotivated, uninspired and worn out. Find those who love you and nurture them!
I’m a bit of a biography nut and was intrigued by an article on Bruce Springsteen in a recent Vanity Fair article. In it he stated that, ““You have to create the show anew, and find it anew, on a nightly basis,” Springsteen said. “And sometimes,” he concluded, laughing, “it takes me longer than I thought it would.” Later on in the article, he says, “I’ve always felt a lot in common with Sisyphus. I’m always rolling that rock, man. One way or another, I’m always rolling that rock.”
I was struck by the connections to creativity and leadership in what he said. Our creativity gets expressed when we continue to push that rock uphill. In my case, just because I may have created a blog I really liked yesterday (or many other previous days!), doesn’t mean I don’t have to go through my creative process again and find some inspiration. While my creative process might become familiar to me, I don’t know that it’s gotten any easier. Some days that rock is pretty heavy!
And this is certainly true of leadership as well. We need to show up every day and find the inspiration and best parts of ourselves. Just because we made a difference one day doesn’t mean we don’t need to do the same the next day. We have to recreate our passion and commitment for leadership every day. And that, too, can feel like pushing a big rock uphill.
In our creativity workshops, we talk about managing your energy which means paying attention to how and when you get your best ideas. While we talk about the importance of taking walks, we don’t mention as often that both Dave and I find that some of our best ideas come when we are in the shower! It feels like too much information to say this in a workshop, but alas it turns out that there is research to back this up!
Gregoire and Kaufman in their 2015 book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind highlight their 2014 research that 72% of respondents around the world reported having some kind of new insight in the shower! So the next time you are struggling for insight at work, just head to the locker room Hmmm … now that might just be TMI!
Earlier this year I wrote about what it took to say yes to writing a book. Well the day has arrived when that book is actually published! I have let go of many fears – that I have nothing to say, that I can’t write, that I will expose myself too much, that no one is interested in this topic and, in particular, that people might think bosses already have too much power … why should we forgive them?
Much like letting go of fear, forgiveness helps you let go of pain, suffering and angst.
It doesn’t mean you agree with or condone someone’s behavior. It just lets you get your life back.
If there is someone occupying space in your head and you’re tired of carrying that negative energy around, you may find my book, How to Forgive Your Boss (or anyone who has done you wrong), a useful read. And for those in Victoria on December 1, please join me at the book launch.
And watch this space for more as I will be sharing tidbits from the book in future blogs.
“But I have no time,” is something I hear myself and my clients often say in relation to expressed desires about what we’d rather be doing. What I have learned from my 30-day blogging challenge is that by not prioritizing our creativity and making time for it, we just drift through our weeks, and one day jumbles into the next.
When we make time, however, things come together, they fall into place, we complete puzzles. And, according to Amabile and Kramer of The Progress Principle, engagement relates to our ability to see progress everyday.
For people who work on complex, long term projects with lots of moving pieces, doing something tangible every day that nurtures you and your creativity is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have.
For those readers who may have been counting, today is day 30 of my 30-day challenge to blog everyday. While I am planning to write much more about what I learned, today I am reflecting on the interesting connection between time and creativity.
A lot of days I struggled to blog. I was too busy with “real work”, tired and uninspired. I said on many days, “I can’t do this.” Ordinarily I would have stopped there and waited for another day.
But the challenge to blog everyday got me pushing through the confusion, anxiety and insecurity that I have nothing to say and am not capable of drawing anything. While praying might be too strong a word, being truly open and receptive to inspiration is something I hope to remember moving forward.
That, and pushing through when it seems like I can’t.
I’ve written about the importance of having cheerleaders in your life, especially when you are trying something new and/or taking risks.
But we also need to step back and analyze who’s in our network more broadly in order that we don’t get blindsided by circumstances and perspectives we hadn’t considered.
Who do you interact with most and/or consult with around projects? Are they all like you? Or is your network diverse?
I base today’s blog foremost on my own ongoing struggle with perfectionism, as well as watching other perfectionists. While I know intellectually that perfectionism has a negative impact on me, putting that insight into practice still eludes me at times, particularly when I’m stressed.
I will spend hours creating something and then dishonour it by picking it apart, under the guise of “learning” or “striving for excellence.” It’s not either of those in actuality, just a well worn pattern that doesn’t serve me well.
Fortunately I have two people close to me who are endlessly cheerleading for me, and I am inching my way forward. If you struggle like me, find those people who “love the blue” in you and listen to them. Today give that perfectionism a rest and celebrate whatever you have created!
I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s work and have completed the Artist’s Way at Work many times over the years. Her latest blog on social media and creative energy is brilliant and this quote stood out for me. What’s interesting is the transition between immersion and submersion – how do we know when we’re heading towards submersion?
For some, it might be when the spa just doesn’t cut it anymore but here are a few other signals for me:
- I spend more time trying to figure out other people than trying to figure out me.
- I don’t protect my creative time.
- I find myself striving for perfection.
What are your signals?
And a big thanks to my friend Claire Abbott for sending me this quote. Dear readers, if any of you have an idea or quote for the blog please send it my way. This 30 day challenge is challenging my idea generating skills!
I’ve observed and personally experienced different approaches to loss over the years. Whether it is personal or professional, minor or devastating, it seems that those who consistently “numb” (whatever that might be – working, drinking, dwelling, exercising too much, etc) seem to get stuck, often regress and sometimes even bring about their own death, metaphorically and physically.
Those who engage in learning reinvent themselves, often creating meaningful legacies around their particular loss or just finding new meaning and energy in their lives.
Some would say that without loss there is no growth or movement, that it’s actually necessary in order to create or bring about something new. As I reflect on my life, I agree. Our challenge it seems is to know when to stop circling the drain and get on with reinventing ourselves.