Feared Things First

Feared Things First

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.””~ Thomas A. Edison

Feared Things First

Nothing is worse than when a black hole develops in your mind. A creative exhaustion that sucks even bad ideas into a disparaging singularity that makes you wonder if you’ll ever hatch another original thought. You’ve been at this point often enough to know that despair, despondence, and creative meltdown isn’t far over the horizon. How do you put the cork in the black hole?

As counterintuitive as this sounds, immediately stop your present project and do something you hate. Balance your checkbook, pay bills, clean out the gutters, get cracking on that pivot table, or whatever activity you loathe doing more than anything else in the world. That sounds like a terrible idea. Why would anyone do something they hate as a cure for stymied inspiration?

Your mind is designed to shield you from unpleasantness. When you are in the midst of something you can’t possibly stand to do, your thoughts will wander to more enjoyable endeavors. Unless your focus is strong enough to resist playing the “I’d rather be doing x, y, or z” game, your attention will invariably fall upon the things you love to do. Suddenly, that black-hole cork you desperately tried to find earlier will come wafting to the forefront of your creative process.

While this method might sound like a Jedi mind trick, you’re leveraging your brain’s defenses to your benefit. Everyone’s mind works differently, so this might not work for you. However, there is some trigger that snaps you out of the doldrums. The next time you have an “A-ha!” moment, take a minute to note what was happening around you when brilliance struck. Were you cooking? Was there a song on the radio? Cataloging these stimuli will help you understand your unique creative processes for the next time you can’t think of a single thing.

Consider this …

1. When was your last “A-ha!” moment?

2. What were you doing immediately before this moment?

3. Take a moment to identify a few of your “least favorite things” that require your attention.

4. Start every day doing the feared thing first, but keep an inspiration notepad close at hand.

 

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

Ruthless Prioritization

“Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list.”~ Patti Digh

Ruthless Prioritization

Fresh out of a department head meeting your head is spinning. This was the rare brainstorming session that set you on fire with ten solid initiatives that would dramatically improve your operations. You fly back to your desk and go back over your meeting notes to start the planning process. Halfway through the list, like a cream pie in the face, you are slapped with the brutal reality. All the ideas are gold and require working with other departments, but all ten initiatives aren’t feasible. You might be able to pull of two of the ideas, and you’re going to have to cast eight potential diamonds in the trash can.

You’ve been placed in the unenviable position of saying no. In this situation, no is not a word that crosses our lips. We’re the hard chargers who never say die of the business world, so there must be a way, right? No, there’s not. There comes a time when possibilities are infinite enough you must make a choice not to do all the good things for your business you can. You must pick the best things for your business. Steve Jobs was faced with this conundrum when he returned to Apple in 1997. At the time, Apple’s product offerings were nearing the point of unmanageability. Jobs wanted to focus the company’s attention on four products—a portable and desktop product for the consumer and professional markets. To achieve that goal, Steve Jobs had to say a lot of nos. Tat’s what good leaders do. They triage. They prioritize. They say, “no,” when saying “yes” would be a lot easier and certainly more palatable. 

We must abandon the belief that saying no means giving up. Saying no when prioritizing is a tool, not an excuse. Somewhere in the process there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the prudent use of the word no will save greater heartache in the future. And, it just might enable the “yes” that changes the world.

Consider this …

1. What are all of the potential “yesses” you’re being faced with currently?

2. Look back over your life and career. Where have you experienced temporary setbacks, yet reigned triumphant in the end? What inspired you to keep going? From where did this inspiration come?

3. Which of those projects or initiatives have the greatest potential for positive impact and which ones must you say “no” to, for now?

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Top Performer’s Field Guide..)

 

 

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