The War Between Creativity and ComplacencyComplacency

Creativity indicates a continuous desire to make things better, expand into new territory, take on more responsibility, grow and innovate. It means keeping things not just interesting, but captivating and compelling. From painting a picture or writing a song, to launching a new product or opening a new store, creativity drives us forward and motivates us to break new ground. Creativity and courage go hand in hand.

Complacency means being OK with how things are, even when “how things are” could stand vast improvement. It means being satisfied with mediocrity. It’s a desire to keep things at the status quo because one is afraid of failure or even afraid of success. Complacency, self-doubt, failure, fear, and apathy go hand in hand.

Creativity and complacency are – to one degree or another – at war with one another. The person who is creative is continually trying to ignite the fire of creativity under the person who is complacent. The creative person is constantly taken aback by the unwillingness of the complacent individual to do something new or take a risk. And the complacent person doesn’t understand why the creative person isn’t happy with how things are or simply being comfortable.

So do we just give up? Do we settle for the status quo and assume that our dreams are just too grand and unrealistic to begin with? Or do we get creative and do something about it? Since no one is truly happy without dreams and aspirations, and at least a sketch of a plan for getting there, I would say wholeheartedly that we ought to do something about it. Here are some recommendations for igniting the fires of creativity on an individual and group level, no matter how long those fires have been dormant:

Rekindle the Original Intention

The reason that many people are afraid of change or do not appear motivated is that they had failures in the past and they are “stuck” in those failures. Where they were once passionate, they are now jaded and cynical. Sit down and start talking with someone and they’ll likely tell you that they are not “naive” like they were before. Now, after a series of losses and heavy blows, they are “realistic.” The thing to do then is to get them back to their original intention and purpose. What were they after in the first place? Why did they even get into this business? When you start asking these questions, you may be surprised that many people will literally not remember what they were originally after. It is quite factually blocked out of their memory and they need some coaxing to recall it.

Once they get an idea what that purpose was, the trick is then to REKINDLE it. Just like you rekindle a dying fire, you’ve got to stoke that fire somehow. Exactly how this is done is unique to each person. Some will get fired up just talking about it. Others require a lot more work. They may need to talk about some of their failures for a while. While they do this, you work into the conversation that THAT WAS THEN and THIS IS NOW. In other words, they are stuck in the PAST and their chances for recovery lie in being in the PRESENT and looking with positivity toward the future. You won’t get through to everyone, but with many you will.

Group Creativity

You can work on the group level as well as the individual level. Set aside some time for a longer staff meeting. When you do so, make sure people have the time to attend and aren’t worried about picking up their kids or the traffic or whatever. At this meeting, go over where you as a company are versus where you want to be. If you feel that your people are stuck in a failure, ask them to tell you about it. Maybe some of your employees have been there since the beginning and have gotten burnt out. They’ve gotten jaded and battle-weary. Have them talk about it.

Once you’ve gotten that download (yes, that part can be rough), start talking about their original intentions and purposes and where you want to take the company. Invite new ideas. Tell them no idea will be scoffed at. All brainstorming is appreciated and the most unrealistic ideas will be accepted. Obviously you cannot act on every single idea, but the point is to get the spark of creativity ignited. And you’ll find that some of the ideas can and should be acted upon.

Recognize & Reward Creativity

There are two surefire ways to stifle employee creativity and encourage complacency. The first is to not acknowledge an employee for a good idea. The second is to have the company take credit for an employee’s suggestion. If you want to get people involved in the creative process, then recognize them for their input and contributions. When an employee’s idea is implemented, make it clear whose idea it was. You’ll have to decide how much recognition is sufficient. You may wish to give out some bonuses, or even promote someone. Just be sure that you are fair about it.

Challenge and Empower EmployeesReward

When the company is facing an important issue, put the challenge out to your employees to help solve the problem. When a company is genuine about seeking input, its employees will demonstrate genuine interest in problem-solving. Put out the challenge to help solve a looming issue and empower your team to come up with solutions. You may be pleasantly surprised what you get back.

Show Progress

In addition to recognizing and rewarding creativity and innovation, employees should be able to see the results that their suggestions bring in. When an employee suggests a better way to ship a product, let the staff know how much money was saved using that suggestion and how it is helping the company grow. Not only does this demonstrate the tangible connection between their ideas and real-world results, it inspires them to be active in the expansion and viability of the company.

Make Room for Complacency

How can “making room for complacency” be part of the process that inspires the creative spark in employees? Each employee is different and operates at a different pace. You’ll have people who will voice several creative suggestions each week, and those that will have a good idea or two each month. Some are content just doing their job, not bothering anyone and not being bothered. If you are constantly pressuring everyone to “be creative,” then you could end up inadvertently suppressing some of the creativity. Creativity, by its very nature, is voluntary. If you make a little room for complacency, you will be giving each employee the space they need to contribute. So there is a balance there.

Cultivate an Atmosphere of Creativity

complacent staff is one that is not contributing to the future of your company. A creative staff is one that is genuinely interested in prosperity and is having a good time in the process. If you want your company to grow, you need creative input from your employees. Sometimes an employee wants to be creative, but they are not sure how to go about it. The more a company fosters and encourages creativity, the more that company will get in return.

You may not be big enough (yet) to offer stock options to your staff in order to incite vested interest in corporate expansion, but you can certainly cultivate an atmosphere of competence and creativity. You can and should reward productivity and creativity in whatever manner your people will positively respond to and which best suits your business. Talking to people individually and as a group is a good start for getting your finger on the pulse of your company. Ultimately, you want everyone pitching in, doing more than the bare minimum, and building a creative atmosphere on their own steam. You want a place of business that is truly alive!

 

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Why Entrepreneurs Should Plan for Failure

by Per Wickstrom on July 17, 2014

Planning for Failure

You should always plan for failure. Why? In order to succeed of course. Planning for failure means asking yourself “What could possibly go wrong?” then answering that question and taking action. Then asking the same question and answering it again and again, and each time taking action. Can you plan for any and every contingency? No. There will always be trial and error. For many circumstances, you’ve got to be there experiencing it and seeing it for yourself in order to determine the correct course of action. Repeated experiences of this nature make you wiser and better equipped to plan ahead.

There is no substitute for action, no substitute for doing. Everyone should have a few failures on their resume, if only to know what it is like. A
boxer who has never been hit isn’t going to be a very good boxer; when he finally does get hit he’ll be out cold. You should know that you ARE going to take some hits. But that doesn’t mean you must be dedicated to failure. Here are some fundamentals of planning, related to failure and success:

Plan A, Plan B, Plan CPlan A

Always formulate contingency plans. For example, it is a good idea to have multiple sources of income going simultaneously. A good number is THREE – as in three sources of income. Another example of designing multiple plans is to consistently add to a reserve emergency fund. In addition to having a number of accounts for specific purposes, you put a certain percentage of profits each week or month into the reserve account, then that money is kept in a triple-locked vault with trip wires and laser motion detectors surrounding it (so to speak). In other words you cannot use it unless it’s a REAL emergency. And by emergency I don’t mean the rent is in danger of being a week late. I mean a REAL one. You can adapt the multiple plan approach to anything.

Murphy’s Law

The law reads “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Murphy’s Law originated in 1949 from a Captain Edward A. Murphy at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Capt. Murphy was an engineer working on a project who when examining a certain technician’s work proclaimed “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it!” Meanwhile a member of the project was keeping a log of “laws” and jotted that one down as “Murphy’s Law”. After a press conference, numerous magazine articles and even ad campaigns, the phrase made its way into the American lexicon.

Of course the idea had been around forever, particularly amongst engineers. It’s not that everything “will go wrong”. It’s more like a mindset that looks into the future. It is also a mindset that exists amongst the more competent of sailors and seafarers. The wind and sea will kick up and toss about virtually anything, thus prediction of consequences at sea is a matter of life or death. The same line of thought can be used in start-ups and in any part of business. It requires one really LOOK and ACT upon what one observes.

Capital

Is the capital sufficient to attain the goal?” is always a question an entrepreneur should ask. If it’s enough to get you halfway and then stall out, then it’s not enough. Conversely, if it is used unwisely, it could wind up being more of a burden than an asset. “Return On Investment” (ROI) is of course an operating formula, but it requires more than just looking at numbers on a page. Utilization of capital requires a sleeves-rolled-up, hands-on approach. When you have some money in the bank, avoid the tendency to kick back and relax. Instead, recognize it’s GO TIME! It’s NOT time to relax. It’s time to use your resources in an intelligent manner. As an operating rule, the LESS you use the better, without compromising your vision.

Do You Understand?

Avoid entering into anything unless you really understand it. If you don’t grasp the legalese, get a sharp attorney who does. You can get tripped up if you don’t truly grasp how something works and the various conditions and agreements. History is full of people who ended up in the poor house because they didn’t read the fine print. When you crunch the numbers the results may surprise you. If someone presents a plan that is incomprehensible yet “cannot fail” then it is suspect. There is likely something wrong with it. On the other hand, if upon analysis it makes sense, then it may be the right course of action for you. The point is, don’t assume it will all “come out OK somehow.” It is your right and responsibility to KNOW if and how it will all come out OK.

Financial Planning

Financial Planning

Financial Planning

Mapping out your finances for maximum gain is of course vital for growth. This is often done in a weekly meeting to determine expenditures and plan revenue-yielding strategy. When you see your income slumping, look back where it was in a higher range and analyze what changes occurred. What were you doing then that you aren’t doing now? What are you doing now that weren’t doing then? You may be surprised what you find. It could be something simple like a schedule change or employee shift. While one cannot rule out EXTERNAL factors, you will find – more often than not – that the change was INTERNAL. Regardless, there is always something you can do to improve it.

Expect the Unexpected

There will always be unexpected expenses: Vehicle repairs, licensing fees, rising insurance premiums, medical expenses, additional taxes, etc. You cannot plan for everything, but you can plan for a lot of things. When you have a few minutes to spare, look into the future and see if you can predict what will happen. Prediction of consequences doesn’t mean you are at the mercy of the future – quite the opposite, it means that if you can predict an outcome, you can take action to either make sure it occurs (if it’s a good thing) or prevent its occurrence (if it’s a bad thing). Never fear the future. Create it.

The Perils of Expansion

Many companies fail due to their success. How is this? They grow, the demand increases, the orders keep coming in, workload piles up, tempers flare – all the while they lack the organizational expertise to handle it. They can’t keep up and they implode or explode. The answer is to increase efficiency and sophistication. It might take more people, better training, better policy, new software, new spaces – it all depends on the peculiarities of your business. Realize it is a GOOD problem to have but if you don’t handle it correctly you could wind up a negative statistic. Consider it all part of the adventure of entrepreneurship.

Sense of Adventure

Starting, operating and growing a business is indeed an adventure so you should treat it as such. There isn’t even any such thing as “failure”. You can always go at it again. Believe me, anyone who succeeds has “failed” over and over again. The difference is that they never give up. You simply have to look in the mirror and ask yourself “How bad do I want it?” It may be necessary however to change your approach.

Wisdom

A quote attributed to Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And from Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” And more than one wise man (including Abraham Lincoln) has said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Combine that wisdom from those brilliant minds into your overall strategy and you may find yourself reaching unprecedented levels of success. Good luck! Over to you!

Sources:

Murphys-laws.com

Goodreads.com/Edison

Goodreads.com/Lincoln

 

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How to Develop a Vision for Your Company

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10 Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal

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5 Ways To Follow Up Without Being Annoying

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Creating a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace

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