Conforming to a corporate culture is often an integral part of successful career growth. As workers and contributors to a business, we have to speak the language and innately know a company, in order to achieve both personal and professional goals. Yet, how much of our creative and true selves do we lose in the process?
In interesting question was posed in this recent post, Creativity with a small c:
“Most children display highly creative thinking before going to school but gradually lose this creativity as they progress through schooling. You can imagine pretty much the same kind of process occurring as young, enthusiastic recruits proceed up the corporate ladder. How creative are they likely to be once they’ve reached the top?”
How do we hang on to our creativity as we continue on the corporate climb? Here are 3 tips that may help:
1. Take Downtime
Use your weekends, take vacations, and sleep. Time away from work is as important as work in shaping your thought process and honing your creativity. Despite the (often feverish) pace of the workplace, we need space to allow for creative and innovative thoughts to surface. One of the best things I do for my writing, and my job at the Chamber is to take a break and unplug. I tackle work with a new ferocity and perspective after I’m recharged. If not, my mind body, and spirit are miserable without enough rest, my productivity suffers, and my output is not high quality after weeks of burnout.
This past weekend, we took a short weekend trip to Montreal, and then spent a day in the park, sitting around, sipping beverages and just hanging out. I came back to work today with a changed perspective and a fresh ideas about the tasks was tackling. Rest is good.
2. Be Brave, Be Different
Seek out diverse thoughts. Rather than reading the same books, watching the same movies, and consuming the same media as everyone around you, take a risk on other types of information. Seek independent thought: foreign films, classic or rare books, subversive museums, new galleries and unknown theater productions. These different ideas develop not only your mind, but also your way of thinking and your approach to the world at large.
Coupled with downtime, seeking out diverse thought helps your brain recharge, and conceptualize information in a new way.
Processing new knowledge and perspectives, forces our personal development, which bleeds over to our work. Mark Zuckerberg captured this idea when he said, “In terms of doing work and in terms of learning and evolving as a person, you just grow more when you get more people’s perspectives [ ].”
Picture a staff meeting where everyone is talking about the same topic, and looking to connect with each other. Connection is magical; so is change. Imagine participating in the conversation on a new level, shedding light on an interesting subject, or raising an issue that is not often talked about. It’s scary, but vitally crucial to growth – both yours and everyone else’s.
3. Find Expressive Outlets
Create. Whatever form that expression takes as it pours out of you, engage in personal expression. Make time to reach within, and get your ideas out somewhere.
We can feel stifled and overtly structured by our routines; our lives take so much managing to run smoothly and continue to become more complex the further along we get. It’s important to find a space where you can say what you need to, when you need to, without a filter. The liberty of freeing up your thoughts can be a crucial element to your growth as an employee.
Going a step further and documenting your expression, sometimes produces new brainstorms or solutions to problems you have been pondering. Three months ago due to a friend’s urging, I started the practice of Morning Pages. They allow me to get my thoughts, concerns and worries out in one place, so my mind is free and clear to tackle the day. It’s been an act of discipline getting into the practice, as so many other distractions demand my time (mainly the temptation of staying in my warm bed.) Through consistent practice, I’ve found it’s the unbridled time where I can create freely, coupled with rest and the seeking of new ideas, that allow to me round out my thoughts, and process the world around me.
Taking time for yourself through rest, acts of creativity and the exploration of new and different ideas and perspectives, produces a different kind of employee, who approaches their work in a unique way. Everyone can be stressed, overworked, over caffeinated, too plugged in, chaotic, and tired. Instead, what if we were our best selves: centered, balanced, rested, in touch, welcoming of new perspectives and innovative?
The best employee is a happy, well-centered and rested employee. Cook, take photos, rest, make beats, travel, snap pictures, groom dogs, write poetry. Sleep. Make art. Grow. Your employer (and the world at-large) will benefit from your bliss.
About the Author: Melanie Axman began providing career guidance several years ago when she accidentally inherited 13 disgruntled interns who all needed help telling the story of their accomplishments. Since that time, she has worked with numerous clients and celebrated their resounding success. Contact Melanie on Twitter, Facebook and check out her blog.