Getting Back On Track; Creativity Out of Chaos

So, you had a great vision for the day. A vision to be super creative, innovative and successful. But then your day went to crap. Problems with employees, challenges at home, or unpaid bills throw your day for a loop. You lean back in your chair and think, “Well, this day is absolutely wasted. Maybe I should just start again tomorrow and throw today in the trash.” Is it fair to leave today behind? Getting distracted is common for highly creative and successful people. Our lives are made up of what we call our many “different selves.” In other words, you are a parent, a child, a friend, an employee, a team leader, or a host of other roles you play in life. Too often these many “different selves” get in the way of our creative spirit. Stresses, turmoil, and chaos seem to derail our focus and leave us frustrated, exhausted, and negative.

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Significant events in mankind’s evolution of thought have occurred following chaos, turmoil, and stress.  Just as many creative insights are a result of negative influences on our lives as are insights from a walk in the park or in a meditation session. Learning to channel our thoughts appropriately following negative events can be just as impactful on creativity, innovation, and success. Chaos in our life forces us to choose between a flight or fight decision. Many people choose to run from problems in a natural survival mentality we call the “flight” instinct. But you don’t want to run from chaos, turmoil, or stress. You are the person who chooses to fight. You choose to stand your ground and never give up. Here are three things you can do to get back on track when life seems to punch you in the mouth.

1.       Walk away.

When facing circumstances that require a creative approach to a resolution you should start the turnaround by getting up and walking away. Not walking away from the problem, rather walking away from the distraction of the details. When you walk away you engage the creative part of your brain triggering unique and unforeseen solutions to the problems you are facing. Taking a walk, stretching your legs, or finding a peaceful spot to sit is the beginning of changing your mentality. The worst thing you can do when struggling with a problem is to sit and stare at the problem.

2.       Take back an hour.

 Make time for creative thinking.

Make time for creative thinking.

Life seems to be stealing your creative time by throwing challenges at you. You know you will have to get back to the problem before long. This is the point at which you want to carve out freethinking time to come up with creative solutions. Ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour is all you will need but you must define the amount of time and commit that you will have no interruptions. Defining the amount of time set aside for creativity is like a gift to your thinking process. You are not abandoning the problem, you are simply taking a “time out” from the problem to focus on creative solutions.

3.       Ask “What if?”

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Asking yourself the right questions will point your creative mind in the right direction. Ask; What if my troubles are trying to show me something? What would that be? What are the troubles trying to tell me? Pause and listen to your mind for the answers. Giving the trouble a voice is a new perspective that allows a new type of imagination. Next question; What if I could eliminate my troubles permanently? How would I do that? Asking this question allows you to float above the problem to examine a more global perspective. What if I was a consultant to my own activities? What would I truly tell myself about this situation? Sometimes a step back and examination of my own behaviors and limitations can be the beginning of true revelation. Now pause to start writing down your ideas. Don’t give up until you’ve found the third or fourth right answer. Many times, the discovery is found in a deeper examination of a good answer making it a great solution.  

Chaos can be as valuable a trigger for creativity as peace. Both chaos and peace force us to abandon non-essential challenges to focus on essential solutions. Don’t give up during a bad day, use the trouble to your advantage.

Start Your Day Out Being Creative

So many people want to live a creative life but fail to get started on the right path. The early part of your day is critical to getting your mind and attitude pointed in a creative direction. Here are three things to do to be more creative and stay focused on success:

1. Slow down while getting ready for your day.

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Take a shower that allows you to stop and really enjoy the water moving across your body. You will be connecting your body with your mind exercising both right brain and left brain stimulation. You will find you have more creative solutions to standard problems.

2. Take a slightly new route to work.

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Taking a back road or new highway may take a couple of extra minutes but it will force you out of your common pattern. Changing simple habits sets your mind to accept new ideas and creative insights. If you work from home you can accomplish the same result by sitting in a different chair than normal or simply start your day answering emails outside on your porch.

3. Write down a simple statement in a journal each morning that sets your personal direction. A few examples would be:

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Today I will be a kind, gentle, and appreciative person.

or

My thoughts today will be focused on meeting the needs of others whom I care for deeply.

or

I am a strong and courageous person as I face today’s challenges.

Each day that you start out properly focused on success will mean greater creativity and insight. The more you do this the easier it will be and you will find that you’ve become a truly innovative and insightful person.

Mark is an entrepreneur and leader in the hospice and palliative care industry. He did doctoral and postdoctoral study in Creativity and Innovation at Walden University and Stanford University.

Think Big and Small: How to prepare your company for real growth and an opportunity to sell

Growing your business takes discipline and creativity. You have to serve like a compassionate operator while at the same time thinking like a buyer. The very best companies build their business in a manner that creates real value. This value should be perceived by customers, employees, as well as potential buyers who may want to acquire your company down the road. In all successful merger and acquisition events, buyers look for certain items to ensure they are purchasing a strong and well managed company. Consider these three value drivers and you will realize significant growth, financial success, long term sustainability, and optimum value at the time of sale.

1. Build a strong support team.

 Together we win!

Together we win!

Most companies are too reliant on the personality and drive of a strong leader. Great companies that are poised for growth and a possible financial transaction rely far beyond a single strong leader and ensure their success by building a strong leadership team. In order to really be a great company, you must hire people who can run with your ideas. These people are generally more expensive to hire but yield great long-term results. It is important to remember that a strong team will require a strong commitment to additional financial resources. Once you give them room to run and the resources they need, you will experience growth like never before.

2. Be certain that you have a strong and discernible differentiation.

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Being different in your industry is difficult to do but it is what makes you special. Great companies take time to consider what it is that makes them special. When considering your specialization, think with your heart and not your checkbook. When putting your heart before your wallet, you will find your true self and your team will gladly follow. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, clients, or patrons and you will quickly find your strong and discernible differentiation. If your employees don’t know what your differentiation is, then you do not yet have one.


3. Track your important measurables.

Great companies and their leadership teams are not afraid to measure their processes and results. The best companies hold each member of the organization accountable to the critical things that support your differentiation. Don’t be afraid to be at risk. Make sure everyone, from the CEO to the newest employee, knows what is expected and is accountable to results. Once you receive results that support your differentiation, make certain to celebrate those successes with all of your team members.

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Once you have considered these value drivers and employed strategies to ensure their success, you are well on your way to building a strong and sustainable company. You now have a story that is easy to share with prospective customers, clients, or patrons, as well as potential buyers. A great company uses a strong mind and a tender heart to build and celebrate a successful enterprise.