The more I learn, the more aware I become of how little I know.
I think that means I’m getting smarter, even though it often feels like the opposite.
“The most creative people have this childlike facility to play.” John Cleese.
Kids learn at an amazing rate, mostly through playing and experimentation, because they’re not afraid of what anyone else thinks. If they screw up, no biggie. Tomorrow’s another day with a whole world of new things to learn and try.
It’s only when we become self aware and start wanting to “fit in” that we stop taking risks and consequently stop opening ourselves up to the opportunity to learn at such a high speed.
As artists we should never be afraid to take time to play.
Results are what really matters, but there can be so many unknown factors on the road to achieving results that we invent processes to take some of the unknowns out of the equation and improve efficiency.
Then we get tied in to the process and eventually how we do it becomes more important than why we’re doing it. The process has become more important than the result.
Keep questioning the process. If anyone tells you it can’t be changed that’s probably a good indication that it needs to.
WTF!!! Effective carrots??? Fred’s really lost it this time!
True, but there is method to my madness. I’m thinking of the carrot and stick analogy for motivating creative employees and from everything I’ve thought about this subject I can boil it down to 3 key motivators.
Money works of course, but only for a short time. A pay rise is appreciated at first, but soon becomes the new norm and can even be resented if too much time passes before another one is given. If there’s any hint that someone else is earning more then money as a primary motivator can actually have the opposite effect.
I’m not suggesting for a second that employers shouldn’t pay their employees a very competitive wage, they absolutely should if they respect their employees. Salary on its own though is an ineffective motivator for loyalty and effective working practices.
Validation can be so much more effective, and is a renewable resource. For artists, feeling like our work is seen and appreciated is priceless, and costs a company or supervisor nothing except a little humility. A cost that is sadly too great for many to bear.
If a creative employee goes home each night with a feeling that their contribution to the team and the project was of value, and was valued by their superiors, then it is so much easier for them to keep putting in more and more effort.
Growth is another human need that has a double benefit. To be supported in progressing towards our career aspirations not only benefits the employee but also the employer who gains a more skilled and appreciative worker. If we work in roles that have no progression, where we know we’ll be fighting the same battles over and over for years to come, passion for the work can quickly fade. Some people like the stability of this, but often they’re not the passionate ones who want to work their butts off and make a difference. To really inspire continuous energy, most people need a sense of growth and accomplishment.
This can be very challenging for leaders and employers, as it can mean taking risks in moving people out of roles in which they are proven and trusted and into roles where they don’t yet have a track record. I would argue that it’s a bigger risk to keep them in the same role, as you risk either losing their drive or losing them altogether.
To be fully content and work with sustained passion and productivity in our creative jobs, the right combination of all three of these is essential.
The key to most successful learning, whether in a formal educational context or in day-to-day life, is vulnerability.
It’s very difficult to take on new information and new ideas when we cling to the certainty of the old ideas. Especially as professionals, the more time we have spent doing similar work, the more of a comfort blanket we have wrapped around ourselves in the form of habits and ways of doing things. Comforting though it is, it can also blind us to the potential to do things better.
Being open to new ideas takes balls. Seriously big cojones. Because it requires letting go of the certainty that what you’ve been doing and the way you’ve been doing it was the best way.
Not everyone is capable of that level of vulnerability, but the ones who are have the best potential to stay ahead of the curve and achieve much better results in the long run.
“Almost everything important is at first opposed by stakeholders in the status quo.” Steve Blank.
Human beings are tribal. We may have cars and iPhones, but evolutionarily we’re barely evolved from cavemen. We’re herd animals. We like to fit in and know our place, it gives us a feeling of security and safety.
We also have a strong sense of individuality. Especially for those with strong creative instincts. That creates quite an internal contradiction.
Doing things differently can appeal to our creativity but also trigger fear and insecurity. Innovation comes from leaving the herd, feeling that fear, and pushing ahead anyway. If you’re on your own, that’s individuality. If the herd likes what you’re doing and chooses to follow you, that’s leadership.
There will always be critics and trolls, who shout whenever they see any violation of accepted norms. Because they fear change, they fear being left behind if the herd moves on without them.
Dynamic Anatomy is here to be different. To challenge artificial boundaries that hold artists back from achieving their true potential, and to encourage those brave enough to do the same. That doesn’t happen by staying with the herd.
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” John Cage.