“I don’t have musical talent.”
“I’m always late.”
“I can’t do math.”
Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense and nonsense.
You can generate brand-new ideas. You can play instruments, make pictures, discipline your schedule, manage intricate formulas. You just have to want to, enough so you’ll invest the time and attention you need to make it all happen.
You can do what you put your mind to. You can’t do something you’ve decided not to try.
That summarizes this business of talents and skills.
Creativity, for example. We all are rich in creative potential, but actual creativity exists only in practice. You have to create. You DO creative stuff. If you don’t act, you can’t create. Creativity occurs when you produce something no one has seen before.
How do you do that?
You think about it, and you work at it. We have the ability to seriously seek, find, study and implement new ideas and practices.
You just have to want to do it, really want to do it. When you do, much of what you turn out is disappointing or unproductive. So what? Sticking with it produces those results that glow and shine . . . and far more than just make up for it. When you say “hard-won,” that is what you mean.
Take it seriously. It is a definable behavior that some people achieve with greater ease and excellence, but everyone can develop. It’s mandatory if you really want to get somewhere in life.
You manage it. This business takes time and effort.
OK, how do you manage creativity?
You know, there are people who do that. They get paid for being creative. They go to work every day to be creative. They are able to do it because they know what it takes – and they do what it requires.
It takes patience and fortitude. You have to manage your behavior with purpose. You define the tasks, and then you do them.
That is counter to our conventional perception of creativity. We have this vague, occasional impression that some people are just bathed in a constant, bubbling life of original ideas and fortunate concepts.
Some people might effervesce that way on occasion, but it’s neither possible nor necessary most of the time for most of us.
You and I exercise our creativity when we search for a mislaid glove or shoe. We do it when we keep working to open a jar with a stuck top. We do it when we devote ourselves to composing an appealing argument to convince our boss and co-workers to change a failing policy.
It is a constant in Project Management, and in any other activity that isn’t fully controlled by predesigned formulations – if such a controlled activity actually exists.
There are rewards across the board for consciously adding creativity to our personal toolkits.
In relationships, for example – an important example. Marriages tend to settle into comfortable grooves, for understandable reasons. So do job situations, neighborhood connections, friendships. Years of shared circumstances encourage habituated behaviors that fade into unexamined routine over time.
What happens, then, when there is a helpful new idea, an unexpected expression of appreciation or a tiny, thoughtful gift, an impulsive helping hand? The pleasant surprise produces a fresh burst of affection and a strengthening of the productive relationship.
That truth is especially pertinent in the pressured atmosphere of a project, or in the well-worn burdens on the job. People like working with people they like. They find themselves eager to help those who help them, and who show respect to them.
Creativity is essential in any serious attempt to improve one’s life or build a new career, and that is when the concept of management is important. You establish specific goals and make action plans to achieve them. You set up schedules and ways to track progress.
The very act of setting and developing goals is creative. A goal is a goal because it’s a thing or a state of being that you don’t have, but want to get. It doesn’t yet exist, so it has to be imagined so you can figure out how to get there. That takes creativity.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Daydreaming can be a big help. So can broadly focused research.
To make the dreams come true, you really need to write them down, then expand the process into action planning. You can do that on less than one sheet of paper:
An example would be goals for problems to be solved, such as overcoming procrastination in doing home maintenance/repairs; delay in taking that online self-improvement course; then the separate parts and pieces of activities necessary to get there and dates when progress will be measured along with the metrics of the measurements.
You need creativity to put this together, and then ensure follow-through.
You haven’t done those things before because you didn’t have time. And you haven’t had time because your devotion to routine has been using up all those hours and minutes.
When you succeed in visualizing how pleasurable and valuable success will be, you’ve created the drive. Now it’s a minor discipline to invoke persistent focus, driven by confidence and determination (or, if you’re short of confidence, you can make it with just determination).
The implementation process goes from decision to planning, then action to discipline, determination to awareness to persistence. All of it is up to you and me, not some gift we have nothing to do with. It’s personal behavior we have everything to do with.