You’re no longer creative

Photo by William Iven

Anyone who, at some point, has established their own business, has sooner or later, come to understand that being good at it is quite a task. And there are various reasons for that.

  • Being a professional and being creative is sometimes a conflict in itself. Of course, this is not a rule. But there are these days among others…
  • Being creative on a tight time schedule is almost impossible. For most people, at least.
  • Being efficient at what you do, is at least problematic, considering the several issues that may arise regarding the work environment, your income, personal issues at home, a.s.o. You definitely need to keep it in check.

Now, there is a host of articles, books and other resources, going on about how you can be a better professional, a better person, including the pitfalls and secrets of each of those aspects of “you”.

For example, there have been in-depth analyses regarding:

  • your daily mood and attitude towards yourself, as well as others
  • your health and stamina and how they influence your daily life and work
  • your attitude towards different situations
  • your ability to follow things through and your drive/determination towards some goal(s)
  • your perception of a situation and the reasoning behind other people’s perception of it

…as well as many other, equally important subjects. Whilst none of these subjects is our topic today, I find it important to indicate that all of them are worthy of consideration, if only to serve as means for self improvement.

Apparently, most of us take less than enough into consideration, when it comes to make daily decisions, let alone important ones. Myself included. But, what does all this have to do with creativity?

Today’s business reality

In the last eight years, I have come to believe that our business reality started out being hard as it is, and greatly evolved to be impossible for most of us. And I’m not so sure that the worldwide economic crisis is the only factor affecting this.

What is wrong with business

In a word: “Fear”. But let’s elaborate on that a bit.

An economic crisis is a heavy blow for business, any day. But this should only mean that we would fail to meet financial goals, as a matter of time. Meaning that we would, eventually, meet them. Reportedly, many businesses fail to meet their goals altogether. Why is that?

“Fear” is quite the mischievous character. It leads, almost “commands” businesses to slow down or even halt their productivity. It also leads most consumers, clients, etc. to slow down their life altogether. This has been quite evident in the last few years.

It gets worse when you take into account that a businessman is also a consumer or someone else’s client. Fear has this “fire carving power” and gets imprinted into our daily reactions. Now, if you are a scared consumer, you’ll agree that you will most probably channel this to the way you work. And to the way your employees work. It will be increasingly difficult to carry out tasks, important to your overall progress.

What is wrong with yourself

Fear has brought a lot of us into the realm of misery. Our income has been reduced. Maybe our taxes have been greatly increased. Our work must have no risk at all, we think, in order to be viable. Or else this means we might have to cope with serious losses. Thus, we go with what works. This can kill our creativity, entirely. And, of course, we can no longer love what we do. At this point, our status can only be described as a bleak and barren moor.

You are no longer creative!

In essence, this means that you no longer have faith.

How can you restore your faith?

Well, let me tell you a story.

A few months ago, this guy rammed my motorcycle, where it was parked, and left. The bike took some heavy damage. Although I finally found him, he refused to admit anything or produce evidence of his car being up to par. By now, you must be thinking about how “disappointed” you are at humanity and how this is another example of human insensitivity.

The whole incident was filmed by a store’s security camera, right on the spot. Being unaware of this, I was attempting to seek out an eye witness or two. I was meek and mild about it. I thought to myself: “No reason to be furious about it”. I found that not only where there a few, but the whole neighbourhood wanted to help me sort this whole thing out. There were some good and decent, hard working people right there. And they cared!

Suddenly, there were a few more creative ways to go about this, available for me. Ways that I had not thought of. And to be honest, I would most probably have not discovered them, had I been bitter about it. At the end of the day, I found that this whole incident restored much of my faith in humanity. Due to the fact that I met quite a few people that were willing to invest some of their own time and effort to help me get out of this predicament. By the end of it, the whole matter had become our common goal. This led me to an afterthought. Team work is crucial, in almost any endeavour. In ways that you might never imagine.

How to increase your creativity

Of course, you should begin with yourself. A few trivial and important pieces of advice should help, such as:

  • Sleep well
  • Get a healthy diet
  • Give yourself some personal time to think and evolve
  • Schedule your daily work in a finite number of manageable tasks and keep it productive
  • Make sure all these daily tasks lead towards a greater, harder to reach, goal
  • Take regular breaks to help you see where you’re standing
  • Make sure to have some family time as well

There is extensive material covering all of the above.
But are all these enough? Not entirely, I think.

Make your team great

Creativity is not a tame beast. A team of people heading the same direction are more likely to successfully have a go at it, than a person alone. But how?

Have faith. Trust yourself in your efforts. Put your mind into what it is you’re aiming for. Once you’ve done that, you’ll find that it is much easier to trust other people, too! Trust their conviction and determination to be complementary to your own. Team up with such people. Share your ideas and let them evolve within the team. You will be surprised at how well this can turn out!

Where to find this set of circumstances, you ask?

The startup businesses

Yes, the startup businesses!

About two years ago, I was trying to restructure a small company into small and effective departments, multidisciplinary even. They needed a more structured business plan than they initially designed. I was attempting to resolve one issue at a time, receiving heavy resistance at almost every turn. It was not a newly established company. They had existed in the local market for almost ten years. And having survived for this long, had one or two decision makers believing that they were as effective and efficient, as they needed. A curious impasse. We were, of course, able to go around certain things, implementing others as suggested. But not quite as I intended.

It was at this point, when I was offered a somewhat akin role at a business incubator for startups. Help the incubation team produce better means of “online” promotion, mostly. It was quite fortunate that I considered the offer. We have been able to work together since, creating great things for all the incubated startups. And the reason why it was quite fortunate for me, is that I was able to discover and understand many great aspects of good business and point out and learn from mistakes made in previous years.

So, what is really the difference with startup businesses?

In a few words, startup companies need your help and welcome it almost entirely. If you show enough love for what they are trying to do, it almost magically manifests into measurable effects, taking them one step further.

And whether you call it an internet startup, a business strartup, or even a laboratory incubator for you to experiment with new technologies, or a business accelerator or an incubator for sale, meaning one you intend to make successful and sell it to make a different, new one, I have come up with a new list of things to do, in order to be creative with it.

  • Love the people and their ideas
  • Love each company as if it were your own
  • Respect the time, effort and money that go into each one of them
  • Have faith and experiment with new ideas
  • Learn from what didn’t work and make yourself a better professional
  • Let everyone benefit from what you just learnt
  • Use critical thinking
  • Have patience

The results of this entire process will show, sooner or later.

No more fear, startups are here!

You may have noticed that throughout this list, there isn’t even one reference or indication of fear. Creative thinking requires the lack of fear. Or intimidation, as another form of it. Love has taken its place. Love for new ideas, bold people, love for a better world that constantly progresses and evolves.

Is a startup the best case?

Well, not everything is sleek and star spangled. Many startups have, eventually, failed. But it is largely the result of wrong decisions, faltered communication, or bad timing even. However, most businesses with a solid business plan and some basic discipline, have managed to follow through and be successful. Even “exit”, returning the investment many times over, as initially planned.

Think about it, though. Is it better to have an established, badly shaped company trying to take the roughness around the edges out with a tissue, or have an efficiently designed business, from start, improve and expand on an already sort of “ship shape” state?
I only ask this, not because of laziness, but to point out a fact.

At the end of the day, the investment of time, effort and money are also important in deciding whether a company, a product or service continues to be viable. And ultimately, this may well be the most important measure of your own personal success, in the entire effort!

How about now? Are you now creative?

Regardless of the “startup” clause, let’s see what we have achieved.

  • You are now rid of fear for business
  • You have gained faith and trust for people and ideas
  • You have greater respect for companies, their products and services and the effort that goes into them
  • You take more chances, which means you take more “good” chances than before
  • You have learnt how to share your knowledge and expertise with other people
  • You have learnt how to accept ideas and knowledge from other people

In essence, something tells me that you already feel better about yourself.
You finally get what this kind of love is all about. Aren’t you?

Well, there is some good news for you, after all!

You are now creative again!