Monthly Archives: January 2014

The “Killing of Creativity”


When you were a child in school there were certain teachers that fostered an environment where individuality and creativity could flourish while others stifled individuality and wanted every student to act and behave in the same way.  The same goes for the corporate world. There are organization can create an environment in which creativity can be enhanced, there are others that can stifle and kill creativity. So how can you be a business that encourages creativity? Is it through rewards, punishments, bonuses… or is it something deeper and more personal? Perhaps it’s finding employees who love their jobs because they enjoy the job itself and not because the pay is good. If someone loves what they do then they will do it well.

The “labour of love aspect” discussed by Nobel Laureate, Arthur Schawlow, is highly intrinsic in nature. People will be most creative when they are motivated by intrinsically interesting aspects of the work itself such as interest, enjoyment, challenge and satisfaction rather than reward structures which are extrinsic incentives. You are most creative when you are doing something you enjoy and not when you have to do it or are doing it simply to get a paid.

So let’s understand ways that businesses can crush creativity. Teresa M. Amabile lists six ways of killing creativity. These six factors when imposed can affect creativity in a negative manner and undermine the process of creative thinking.

  1. Expected evaluation: Creative people do not operate well under the fear of evaluation of their performance. Under such evaluation system, they would be more concerned as to how their work will be evaluated and their concentration is on the expectation of the evaluator. Creative people cannot work creatively under such restrictions. They must get the feeling that they are working for themselves rather than for someone else.
  2. Surveillance: People who are conscious of being watched as they are working will be less creative. Lack of surveillance does not necessarily mean that creative people are not accountable for their performance, but surveillance does cast a suspicious eye and this kills creativity. Creative people, even if they are being watched, should not be made conscious of it.
  3. Reward: Monetary and other rewards may be useful incentives to get people to work, but they almost never act as motivators. People who find themselves working primarily for a tangible reward will become less creative. Highly creative people are more interested in self recognition and satisfaction rather than outside recognition or other tangible benefits.
  4. Competition: People who feel themselves to be in direct threatening competition with others in their work will be less creative. The creative thinker would be more interested in matching the competitor in order to alleviate any threat from him for his position and this will limit the freedom to explore new areas.
  5. Restricted choice: The creative people must be free to think their own ways of handling situations and solving problems. The freedom of how to do work is the most important feature of environment that support high creativity. People who are restricted in their choices in how to do a task are less creative. This restriction of choices may be the most destructive factor in creativity.
  6. Extrinsic orientation: All those people who are led to think about all the extrinsic reasons for doing what they are doing are less creative. These extrinsic reasons range from extra financial incentives to status, medals, recognition or promotion. Highly creative people have more of intrinsic reasons in doing what they are doing. They want to be involved in their work because it brings them joy and happiness.

If you want your business to thrive you need to look at how you motivate your staff and the tools you used to encourage productivity. If you look for creative people who are good at what they do and love what they do then you’ll find the creativity they can bring to your company will be far greater than the initial expectation you had about the position. Check out this TedxAtlanta talk by Teresa Amabile who talks about the “crisis of disengagement” occurring in the workplace today.


Top 10 Tips to Stay Motivated as an Entrepreneur

UnmotivatedRecently I’ve been feeling a little unmotivated. I absolutely love being an entrepreneur – the freedom of being my own boss and making my own decisions is amazing. I’d say most of the time I am super motivated to work, create and inspire. Then there are those times where I’ve finished a major project or two and there is nothing pressing on the horizon that I feel unmotivated. The lull between projects and the ‘what to do next?’ can be a challenge.

I am in this period right now – I just finished two major projects, it’s a slow time of year and I’m not sure what to do next at the moment – I’m feeling a little unmotivated. So I turned to social media where I tweeted “I’m curious about what other ‪#entrepreneurs do to stay motivated in their businesses?

I was legitimately curious what other entrepreneurs did to stay motivated. Looking for support and inspiration. But instead, one of the first tweets I got back was: “IRL ‪#Entrepreneurs who need help staying motivated need to change careers & choose something they’d do for free if they could.”

kick me when I'm downI was floored! I could not disagree more! (And thanks for the support lady! Talk about kicking a person when they are down!) I absolutely love what I do and I would do it for free – that is if I had a money tree in the back yard so I could feed my children. I am passionate about what I do. I feel like I make a difference in the world and what I do matters. I love the freedom I have, I love being my own boss and setting my own hours. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I need some motivation to move on to the next project.

If I had an entrepreneur come to me and say they were unmotivated right now I would offer advice on how to be re-energized. Tips that others do to rally and feel inspired. I would certainly not make them feel that they are wrong feeling unmotivated and they should therefor change their careers!

So, for all of you entrepreneurs out there who may be going through a slump know you are not alone! 99% of us feel that way at one time or another. It’s a phase and it will pass. It’s when it doesn’t pass that you may need to reconsider your options. But for now just know it’s okay! We all feel that way sometimes! So I turned to FaceBook where I have many entrepreneurial friends for advice on what they do when they are not feeling overly motivated.

Here are the top ten things you can do when you are not feeling motivated in your business:

  1. Join a Mastermind Group.
    I often find it inspiring talking to other entrepreneurs. It can be very motivating hearing what things they are up to and even just getting support from them can be motivating.
  2. Take a break and step back for a short time.
    Sometimes just taking a break can be re-energizing in and of itself. Go for a walk, swim, grocery shop etc. It can give you some nice perspective and fresh thinking.
    “Taking a break is needed sometimes to stay motivated if that makes sense. It’s something my husband tells me to do quite regularly. When we work for ourselves we need to do it all and can get quite burnt out. When you remove yourself every now then the ideas start to flow better and motivation returns.”
  3. Keep a full and structured schedule.
    If you have big breaks in the day it can be hard to stay motivated. One entrepreneur said if she has a chunk of time throughout the day then she schedules a walk. Sometimes scheduling your time each day keeps your focus. Knowing that you are going to answer emails from 9-10 and then work on a major project from 10-12 then lunch from 12-1 and research from 1-3… etc. This structure can help keep you focused and motivated.
  4. Attend a conference.
    This is a great way to be motivated and network with other entrepreneurs. I love conferences because I often learn from the speakers and feel inspired. I also love the connections that you can make. A great way to network!
  5. Plan a lunch with a friend.
    This is part of stepping way for a bit. I know when I’m home during the day it can be lonely. I don’t have the office cooler to chat with others throughout the day. My office cooler is FaceBook and Twitter. It’s sometimes nice getting away and chatting with a face-to-face live human being! I often come back refreshed.
  6. Take a mid-week fun day. (spa, golf, hiking, etc)
    I love taking a break on a Wednesday and going for a massage. For some reason it just feels very decadent. This is a perk of being your own boss and setting your own hours. I know if I was still in an office job that I couldn’t do this as easily. That is inspiration enough 😉
  7. Exercise.
    Getting your blood flowing and releasing nice endorphins can get you feeling motivated again!
  8. Keep social.
    This is a big one for entrepreneurs. It’s hard working from home all day long and not having as much human interaction. I’ve also found that socializing with other entrepreneurs is different than socializing with friends. You can vent to other entrepreneurs about the difficulties you are facing and they will ‘get it’ because they are going though the same thing. Try attending a tweet-up where you can meet other like minded people face-to-face.
  9. Plan a holiday.
    Sometimes just getting away from it all can be refreshing. We all need to step away and have some relaxing time. When you work from home it’s extra hard because the lines between work and home life are very blurred.  Getting away from home and work can do your psyche wonders.
  10. Remind yourself why.
    Why you are doing what you’re doing? Was it to stay at home with your kids, make your own money, make a difference in the world, set your own schedule. Whatever it is you had a reason for becoming an entrepreneur.

Just know it’s okay to feel the way you are feeling. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. We feel down if we are down. We feel stressed if we are unmotivated. We need to realize that most of us feel this way at some time or another and that’s okay. You don’t need to do a reevaluation on your life’s goals or your career choice. It happens. It’s life. The biggest thing I have heard from all the entrepreneurs I’ve talked to is to take time to step away. Whatever form that is that makes you happiest and refreshes you. Just know it’s okay to feel the way you are feeling!

This too shall pass!