Creativity Is Currency. Put It In The Bank.

Ideas flourish in the minds of all of us. We just need to have the balls to push them forward. Sometimes they work; most often they don’t. I actually like it when some of my ideas don’t work, because it means I am getting closer to one that will. Also, I try to be dogmatic to prove a point. I put myself out there and fail to teach someone a lesson. Sometimes it’s my staff; often, it’s me.

There is risk here; however, I have never cared about the downside. If you’re worried about failing, you will never stretch yourself and maximize your potential. You don’t want to be lying on your death bed thinking you should have done something or tried harder. I think it would be much more rewarding to feel good about your accomplishments, pass on some wisdom, and call it a day. I have come to the conclusion lately that when you die, it is over.

failure

It certainly feels great when you dream up an idea and see it through. It’s even better when you exceed your desired results. Particularly if the “No Storm” crowd was spending extra time pointing out why you shouldn’t waste your effort trying. Oh my – the perpetual “No” people drive me crazy. The only people worse are those that start a sentence with “You don’t understand…” I actually go out of my way to distance myself from these folks. I never hire them. I don’t expect YES woman and men; I just want to be affiliated with people who try. If we try and fail at something, so what. You gain from the experience and learn a thing or two, so when you try it again you improve your chances of success.

I like to perform in an enriched atmosphere that fosters creative thought. I once worked for a leader who said. “Chris, when I see you in the office with your feet up on this sill, music playing, and you staring out the window, I know you’re doing your best work for the company.”

He was right.

The culture, atmosphere, and people who created them allowed me to work at my absolute best. I do that work when I am comfortable. I wear jeans to work most every day. Shorts and tie-dyed Ts in the summer. When we’re visiting with clients, I match their dress but always tell them how I prefer to dress.  Most of the time they agree and say that’s how they dress on the weekends. I don’t like the separation. I am the same guy on Saturday and Sunday as I am Monday through Friday.

tie-dye-shirt

One year I shaved my head, and I scared my wife when I came downstairs. I continued to do this for the next five years. It is not a coincidence that this was a period of dramatic growth at the company I worked for and where I was one of the early employees. We weren’t successful because I shaved my head, but we were successful because we created an atmosphere where you could be bald or have hair down to your shoulders. It was about being contented. We sold the business for several hundred million dollars during this period.  I was there when we received our first wire payment from ING for $2400 just seven years earlier. Over the years we created a culture of hard work, creativity, and fun. Culture is super important and building one from scratch, though not easy, is better than changing one.  Culture also supersedes strategy, as Peter Drucker is claimed to have said, or thought. See my article “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”

I believe how you dress reflects how you feel about yourself. How secure you are in your own skin. The environments you work and play in affect how you feel, which, in turn, affects how you dress and how relaxed you are. Comfort enables creativity, in my experience.

Check on the environment you work in. Do you feel comfortable there? Do you get agita on Sundays knowing you have to go to that place on Monday? Worse, is the hangover from your experience from Friday bleeding into Saturday? If so, you are in a perpetual world of hurt from where you work. You have almost no chance to draw on your creative energy to develop and act on an idea. If you can, try working from home. We belong to a cabana club on the Jersey Shore. It is beautiful, and we are so lucky to be members. This year when it has been nice, I have been working from the club. When I need privacy, I close the door. If I don’t, I sit on the beach. I have Wi-Fi, two iPads, and two phones. I am connected to my company and staff. More important, I am in an atmosphere where I feel great. I can move from a contract negotiation call to dreamy thoughts about how we are going to develop a new lead development technique in minutes.

Let your freak flag fly, and create an environment where you enjoy spending time. You won’t realize you are working and your creativity will soar. In time, you won’t be surprised to see the results start to pile up.

My best, Chris.