15 Ways to Live Creatively

by Per Wickstrom on October 30, 2014

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

-Pablo Picasso

What is Creativity?

Live CreativelyTo “live creatively” means to “LIVE!” in capital letters with an exclamation point! Living creatively means living up to your true potential. “Living” does not mean “breathing” – it means being alive in the fullest sense of the word. What is meant by “creativity”? Does it mean playing a guitar, painting a painting or writing a novel? It can, but it need not specifically refer to the arts.

The word “create” comes from the Latin creare meaning “to make, bring forth, produce” related to crescere “arise, grow, expand”. When you’re creating, you are building, bringing something into being, and you are arising, growing and expanding!

Creativity can encompass any field, any profession and any facet of life including living itself. Ever notice how some people make being alive into a work of art? Are there ways to grow and prosper and infuse your life with creativeness and imagination? On the internet, people seem to like lists of things, so here are 15 ways to go about it:

1. Give, Don’t Receive

Better to give than receive so says the old adage. It’s true. Sitting at home watching the “news” on CNN (aka the Bad News) or The Real Housewives of Hell for hours on end accomplishes nothing. Turn it off and do something productive. Get going on SOMETHING of value to yourself, your family, the neighborhood, the world at large. If you’re already doing that, more power to you.

2. Embrace Responsibility

Concepts like “responsibility” and “honesty” and “ethics” get a bad name because of extreme levels of hypocrisy. The people telling you to “Be honest!” and “Be good!” are often the most dishonest and unethical people around. So if you are to be honest and decent and good, it’s got to be a personal thing. You are the one who must face “you” staring back at you when you gaze into the mirror. What does responsibility, honesty and ethics mean for you personally? Start working on that.

3. Stop Worrying

If you can’t do anything about something, stop worrying about it. Are you going to tackle Ebola? If you aren’t, no need to endlessly worry about it. Either you are going to do something about something or you aren’t. It’s pretty much plan A or plan B. Not that you should ignore real problems, but why not tackle what is right there in front of you before worrying about everything else? If more people simply did that, we’d have far less problems. The more you do, the less you’ll worry. Less worrying and more doing!

4. Don’t Care What Anyone Thinks

All you have to do is create something these days and you get an army of haters. In fact, due to anonymity, the “army” could be only a handful. Caring what they think is a waste of time. Any person who did anything worthwhile had people that despised them. People will resent you for the crime of being creative and prosperous. Even people that were revered later in life or after their death had vicious critics – and they generally shrugged them off and got on with their mission. So just don’t care.

5. Live By a Code

There is beauty in living by a code. The samurai and the knights of chivalry lived by codes. “Look what happened to them!” you may say. “They don’t exist anymore!” Well maybe that’s part of the problem. Your code should encompass and embody your values. Having one guides you in times of adversity. At least consider it.

6. Get Obsessed

Those who do great things are obsessed people. They are single-minded in their pursuit. There’s nothing wrong with being so absorbed and determined that you forget to eat and sleep. Anything can be taken too far, but when you’re being constructive and exercising your extreme creativity, the result is bound to be positive. What can you get obsessed about? Do that!

7. Make Your Hobby Into Your Profession

Do you live for your hobby? Why not get paid for it? Of course that could take the fun out of it, but if the idea appeals to you, think up possible ways to do it. Like to write? Start a blog or write a book. Like playing your guitar? Stand on the corner and busk or play some open mics. Is your garage a workshop? Build beautiful things and sell them. Invest some time and effort into becoming a professional and put your own creative spin on it. People will be drawn to what you’re doing and even want to exchange for it.

8. Join a Club

There are clubs and groups for everything. Pick one and join it. Right there you are joining like-minded people doing something you like. Join a club that reads books, builds birdhouses, writes songs, plays poker, races snowmobiles. Go hiking, biking, snorkeling, sledding, fishing. And bring your family onboard. Life is better lived when you are part of a group.

9. If You Can Think It, You Can Do It

If you’ve always thought about writing, write. If you’ve always thought about singing, sing. If you’ve always thought about starting a restaurant, get started. The point: If you can think about it, you can do it. Not doing it because you “aren’t good at it” is only an excuse not to do it. Think back to the girl or boy you wanted to ask out in high school. For those who did it, even if they said no, you probably don’t regret doing it. For those who didn’t do it, you probably wish you had done it. A long as it’s not destructive (just needed to clarify that), do it.

10. Deny Yourself Something

Here’s a negative one: Don’t watch any TV until you’ve completed a project. Don’t go to bed until you’ve practiced your performance. Don’t go out and play until you’ve done your chores. Don’t reach for the bottle of Jack when you know it will mess with your head. Don’t smoke the PCP-laced joint when you know it’ll damage your brain cells. But don’t do these things because “someone said not to”. Don’t do them because YOU said not to. Impose your own boundaries. Get creative about it. It can even be fun if you make it so.

11. Feel Better Physically

Life can be rough when your body just plain feels bad. Abstain from the fast food and soda pop. A can of Coke contain 9-10 teaspoons of sugar. Millions of people drink several Cokes per day. Want to feel better? Cut out the sugar, processed, frozen and fried foods. Replace it with fresh, natural or organic. Can’t afford natural or organic? Factually, you cannot NOT afford it. Hunt around and you can find reasonable prices. At the same time, get outside and exercise. Those two alone will create a more creative YOU that feels better, is healthier and will probably live much longer.

12. Help Someone Else

Helping others is like heroin for the soul without the nasty side effects, withdrawal symptoms and death rate. Actually that’s not totally true; helping others can be completely addictive. In fact, it’s helped me stay drug-free for decades. It gives one a clarity and sense of purpose like nothing else. Helping youth get their lives together doesn’t just mean helping them to build their own future – it means building the future of the human race! And when you help someone gain the ability to help themselves, nothing in the world compares.

13. Demonstrate Charisma

You might think of “charisma” as being attractive or charming, and while that can be useful, that’s not what I mean. To me, charisma is staying late to get the job done, then staying even later to fix it when it didn’t come out right. Charisma is making the effort to keep your word. Charisma is leaving a note when you dented someone’s car. It’s making sure everyone’s seat belt is buckled before you take off. It’s looking someone in the eye, saying “I got this” and meaning it. It’s not necessarily romantic or sexy, but it makes or breaks a society and everything in it. We need more of it.

14. Combine Disparate Elements

Apply a sports mentality to your business. Treat your office like an orchestra. Make a marriage into the Super Bowl. Take your kids on a safari to the supermarket. Combine elements that aren’t normally thought of together: The metal band that played with the symphony, the Film Noir science fiction movie, the computer inspired by a blender – all these represent disparate elements combined in unique ways. Get creative and do this with your personal life and career and see where it leads you. Do so brilliantly and I may end up writing articles about you.

15. Generate Momentum

When you’re moving fast enough, the haters and naysayers won’t be able to keep up. Their poisonous words of defeatism and cynicism will be drowned out by the roar of your 800 HP engine. You won’t even notice if they’re there or not due to the dust cloud in your rearview mirror. The way you generate that kind of momentum is to keep creating. Create. Create. Create. And when you’re done with that, create some more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Start-Up Challenges

Business Start-up ChallengesAny new business venture, whether it’s a neighborhood store or a tech start-up, faces challenges and obstacles – big and small, simple and complex. Some are common to any business while others are peculiar to a given field. No matter the situation, it’s your job as a founder or manager to overcome these challenges. A “manager” who sits idly by while problems, complaints and workloads pile up, watching and wondering if something will happen, is not being a manager. Of course there are challenges – that’s why you’re there! Some entrepreneurs and managers fall on their heads because they are unable to recognize the specific nature of a problem and are clueless as to its solution. Here’s a list of common challenges and ways to overcome them:

Acquiring Capital

Some start-ups require very little capital. But others need some groundwork laid in order to be properly built up. If yours requires X amount, and you don’t get it, you could falter. When looking for backers, it is important to have a sound business plan that investors, bank officers, etc. understand. You may be utterly on fire about your dream and willing to risk it all – but that doesn’t mean a potential investor or lender shares the same attitude. In fact, they may be extremely narrow-minded – their thought patterns guided by numbers with dollar signs next to them and only interested in the “safe” money. You and your plan may be bold and in a totally different headspace, so you may need to shop it around and you’re certainly going to have to sell it. Optimally you get what you really want, but if you don’t get it all, don’t use that as an excuse not to start.

Establishing Your Identity

If you don’t have a good idea as to WHO and WHAT you are from the get-go, you could falter. Granted, experience helps shape who you are, but you should still have a good grasp of it from the beginning. Do you offer a solution to a problem? Is it a common problem that everyone knows they have? Do people need to be enlightened so they realize they even have this problem? Are you aimed at the masses or an exclusive clientele? Do you offer the best price or the best quality product or service? Answering these questions and many more will help you establish your identity and how you represent yourself.

Does Anyone Know You Exist?

At the beginning, no one even knows that you exist on the planet Earth. You might as well be an invisible nothingness. One of your first challenges is simply getting people to know you’re there, and there are many ways to accomplish this. For a brick-and-mortar business, having a prominent sign and attractive storefront is a must, followed by a splashy grand opening and handing out flyers and free offers. For an online business it’s utilizing a wide range of multi-media channels: websites, social media pages, blogs, guest blog posts and articles, Google Maps, Apple Maps, business “locator” sites, review sites, search engine optimization (SEO), and other tested and untested resources.

Zeroing in on Your Customers

Telling “people” you exist is a broad action that must also be narrowed down to your core customer base. In order to reach them, you must know who they are. And the more you know about them the better. That takes some research. You can either do this research yourself or hire someone else to do it. The more you know about your customers, the more you can refine and modify your message and approach. If you’re business-to-business, it may be clear what businesses you wish to cater to, but not so clear WHO in those businesses you need to target. For business-to-consumer, research is required as to WHO they are, their habits and patterns, what languages they speak, where they live, how to reach them, etc.

What Do They Need and Want?

All the above goes into finding out what your potential customers NEED and WANT and how to position your product or service. Market research is critical at this stage.

Here’s a great example: A marketing firm was tasked with researching the potential customers of a particular type of telecom system. They surveyed the organizations that might purchase this item and specifically those who sign the purchase orders. They asked these individuals what they found important or valuable in a phone system. In this particular instance it was for the system to be indestructible. The firm then followed this with a “positioning” survey asking what object or activity represented indestructability. The answer: A TANK! So they positioned their system with the image of a tank and a message of indestructibility. The result: The company went from $0 to $30 million per year in three years!

That’s simple, direct and effective survey and marketing. Of course they still had to sell and deliver the goods, but their success was built upon well-targeted marketing.

Understand the Competition

Do you wish to overtake the competition? Are you aiming for a segment that the competition has missed? Do you offer the same product for less? Do you offer a better product for more? Do you simply stand alone? Any start-up must understand its competition. Even if you “have no competition” you must still complete with all the other ways someone can spend their money – so in the end there’s always competition of some kind.

An example is a start-up ISL (internet service provider) a few years back that had Time-Warner Online as their primary competition. Time-Warner had the Roadrunner as the symbol of their service. Not surprisingly, surveys found SPEED to be the number one customer priority. Those surveyed also felt Daytona 500 or NASCAR best represented the concept of speed, so the start-up ISP used the image of a racing car speeding past the roadrunner. This worked out very well for them.

Understanding your competition as well as your customers is important in all aspects of your business.

Sales & Prosperity

Turning a lead, a visit, an interview, etc. into a SALE is of primary importance no matter how long a business has existed. All the marketing in the world is useless if it doesn’t lead to sales. The most important part of a sale of course is the CLOSE. But there are many steps that precede this. Everything from social media questions and email inquiries to phone calls and live visits – all these can be cultivated into greater sales volume. Building a trained and competent sales staff is a challenge for any business. The turnover rate in sales is high due to the challenging nature of the job. When you get good people, offer incentives for greater sales volume, back them up and make sure they have what they need. They are key to your success and prosperity.

Money Management

Managing your money is a challenge, especially when you don’t have much of it to begin with. Investing in projects that yield significant return is of primary concern. If something is untested and you’re not sure if it will pan out, do it on a small and less costly scale and monitor its results. If that works out, expand it. That way you don’t put all your eggs in a single basket. It’s important that anyone you hire to handle the money is very good at their job. When the money is not tracked, when it’s wasted, when the law is not strictly adhered to, you get messes piled up that you don’t need. Be bold but manage your funds wisely.

Vision & Communication

I talk a lot about the value of the vision and the importance of communication. That is because it will make or break your business. Make sure people understand your vision and where they’re headed. Ensure they comprehend how the communication channels work within the business. One thing that can trip up any start-up is when people don’t relay vital information; there was something that someone really should have told you and it just “slipped their mind” – and now you’re paying the cost. Sometimes people are afraid to tell you things; tell them you really need to know. Conversely, you want people taking care of things and not dumping all the problems on your desk. So there is a balance.

Motivation & “Giving Up”

Why do start-ups fail? What is the primary reason? Someone gave up, that’s what! “Failure” only means someone quit. A lack of motivation is underneath countless failures in business and anything else you care to mention. “Motivation” is a commodity. With it you can prosper. Without it you don’t stand a chance. Hire people that are motivated. Strengthen motivation by aligning vision, communication and action.

Realize that you cannot fail. You can only quit. Don’t give up. Make your dreams a reality!

 

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