There are few figures who have addressed the topic of leadership with the zeal of Tom Peters. Years ago, I participated in an online community of folks on Tom Peters’ website. One day, Tom posted this quote.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
—John Quincy Adams
The statement is a wonderful encouragement to define leadership as an act of inspiration and transformation. But, as I thought more about it, I began to wonder if it was a bit misleading. Who am I to argue with dead presidents? Still, since I believe in the inherent potential residing in each of us, I wrote:
“I don’t think we inspire people to ‘become more,’ I think we help them discover who they really are. In a way, we help them become who they already are. Who they were created to be. We don’t take them BEYOND their being, we help remove unnatural obstacles that keep them from being.”
To my wondrous surprise, Tom Peters took my comment and used it as a part of his presentation on “The Nub of Leadership.”
Creating something seems synonymous to producing something. Yet, the terms creativity and productivity can be very different concepts. If I describe someone as “creative” you probably imagine an artist or a person who generates clever ideas. When I mention a “productive” person, you likely think of someone very different. Perhaps an assembly line worker cranking out widgets, or a paper pusher who can empty their inbox at lightning speed.
The truth is you need to be both of these people. You need to be productive so you can meet deadlines and help your business be profitable. Meanwhile, you also need to be creative in order to generate new ideas, come up with better ways to do your work or find innovative solutions when things don’t go as planned. In the middle of the daily grind, you probably don’t think much about bringing the proper mix of creativity and productivity to your work.
But what is the proper mix of creativity and productivity? Here are 3 signs they are out of balance and how to balance your creativity and productivity.
There’s a big reason we have so many issues trying to accomplish important work. We aren’t clear about what is the main attraction and what are simply distractions.
When you think about your daily activities, how many of them could be classified as a distraction?
- Binge-watching House of Cards
- Scrolling through a dozen screens of Facebook updates (and associated ads)
- Reading gossip about celebrities
- Spreading gossip about celebrities
- Checking email unnecessarily
– Ironically, I got derailed from writing this blog post because checking my email seemed critical (it wasn’t).
But there are even bigger things than this. Your job could be distracting you from the attraction of a fulfilling and impacting career. That fad diet could be distracting you from a more meaningful, healthy lifestyle. Treating those migraine headaches may be distracting you from dealing with the stress you’re under and finding a sense of peace.
What can you do to overcome distraction?
Knowing when to quit and when to press on can be one of life’s toughest decisions. When things get tough, the tough get going… but do they go straight ahead or in a different direction? When I wanted to quit football in high school, my father taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.
In preparation for the big homecoming game my sophomore year, our rural Oklahoma football team had ordered new uniforms so we would look our best during the halftime ceremony. Just one problem – there weren’t enough new uniforms for everyone. Junior and senior class players got first selections. Then as one of the coaches was giving sophomores their uniforms, he skipped me (and a couple of other “average” athletes) and gave the remaining uniforms to some of the talented freshmen players.
I was humiliated.
original image by samplediz at FreeImages.com (http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1224442)
“I’ll never let that happen again.”
Amidst all of life’s slings and arrows, we learn to put up our shields to protect ourselves. We do this to get through situations when we feel attacked, but if we leave our shields up we close ourselves off. We galvanize ourselves in a way that prevents us from learning, changing and growing.
We trust someone and they hurt us, so we no longer trust as easily.
We try something new and it backfires, so we go back to our comfort zone.
We share our art with others and get negative feedback, so we keep it to ourselves next time.
Our brains naturally try and avoid pain in order to protect our existence. Self-preservation is essential in life or death scenarios. But we’re people, not jam. We don’t need to be preserved indefinitely. In order to experience what it means to be human, we have to take emotional and mental risks, even when it means inevitably experiencing pain.
If we let it, our emotional posture will stunt our growth.
If you’re like most folks, you have a lot of people pulling at you daily.
- You may have children who need your support.
- Your boss likely needs you to to complete specific tasks to help her achieve stated objectives.
- Schools and/or churches pull on you to volunteer and help raise funds.
- Advertisers constantly pull on your attention and wallet
And that is simply the tip of the iceberg.
When you stop to think about everyone and everything pulling on you, it makes sense why you feel pulled in so many different directions.
But, have you ever considered who is pushing you? Who pushes you to…
- … grow and learn?
- … say “yes” to something that scares you?
- … say “no” to what will distract you?
- … dream big?
- … take action on YOUR goals?
- … stick to YOUR values?
- … get out of a rut?
- … choose grace over criticism?
- … stop settling for less?
- … dig deep inside yourself and find something the world can’t live without?
We give “pushy” a bad name, but sometimes we need more pushers to help us break free from the superfluous things pulling at us.
Invite someone to give you a push – and value it when they push you in the direction you need to go.
You are faced with a nearly infinite number of decisions each day. The cereal aisle in the grocery store used to be a sign of our mountain of choices, but you can now find enough varieties of any product to fill a store (or more) thanks to online shopping. The only problem with your freedom to choose is you no longer feel you have the freedom to NOT choose. (It’s no surprise we now use terms like decision fatigue to explain why this process wears us out.)
So, what do you do? If you’re like most of us, you put off choices when the decision isn’t clear. But some of these decisions could be important or urgent, so the procrastination technique isn’t always successful. Some decisions can’t wait, but you don’t have enough time to do everything at once.
This brings you one more decision to make: which choices will you choose?
In order to figure this out, it will help you to know which of 2 kinds of indecision you’re experiencing: indifference or ambivalence.
If you don’t care whether you eat at the Italian restaurant versus the burger joint, then you are indifferent. This is the type of decision you can defer. Let someone else choose or simply flip a coin to decide. If the meal isn’t imminent, you can also put off this decision until later.
If you’re choosing between two very different job offers, but want each one for solid reasons… then you are ambivalent. This is the kind of decision that deserves your full attention. You may need time to research the options further, gather other opinions and gather your best judgment.
This seems somewhat obvious, but you can spend a lot of time pondering choices without considering how much you care about the outcome. By focusing our attention away from our indifference and on what you feel strongly about, you can accomplish more significance with every decision.
Do you struggle with indecision? Let me know if this is helpful or if you have other thoughts on this topic.