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Why we are scared of Creativity in Business

Scared of Business Creativity image by Matthew BroomheadThere are quite a few ideas that I share in this article so would it be ok if you stick with it and maybe re-read it the following day to see which parts resonant with you at this time of your career…

In the privileged part of the world where we live, our job in the connection economy is to change people for the better so their lives are genuinely improved. Whatever or however that is done.

Therefore is it possible to encourage someone to go and take action just by reading an article?

Is it really possible to get across that we have all the resources available to us if only we’d refocus on what could work, instead of what hasn’t worked in the past?

Am I Talented?

Everyone would agree that most of us are talented in some form. If asked whether we would like to unlock our talents and creativity then the majority would eagerly put their hands up and declare “yes please”.

So why are so many of us happy with just doing unfulfilling and unremarkable work? Daily doing just enough work so we are not sacked and being paid just enough so we don’t leave.

As Seth Godin said “no one is a commodity if they don’t want to be“.

Let’s be open about the real reason why we are not more creative, expressing our talents and making a significant change.

We are scared. We are fearful of what might happen.

When I mention the word creativity then some people typically think about the arts or dance etc. These obviously have creative elements to them, but so can any job.

It can be difficult to express creativity because it’s been drummed into us that we should only do what has been done before and be replaceable parts of a system. Doing something new has been seen as bad, because it will stop the industrial “production line” from working as it did. (My use of “Production line” applies as much to the service sector as traditional manufacturing).

Being scared is a normal reaction

In Dr Steve Peters book The Chimp Paradox he uses the brilliant metaphor of us all having three quite separate parts of our brain. (If you’re not aware of him then he’s the guy that Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy basically said was instrumental in their Olympic Gold success).

The three metaphorical parts are:

  • Human
  • Computer
  • Chimp

One of the main roles of the Chimp part is to look out for danger whether physical or exclusion from the troop which would lead to potential isolation. When it perceives danger, (which is often) whether it is real, like a cricket ball zooming towards your head or not real danger, such as having to publicly speak at your children’s school concert, then it will default to one of three emotional states:

  • Freeze – I’m sure you’ve seen wild life programmes where threatened creatures play dead and completely freeze. As creatures of Mother Nature we do the same. When fearful we rarely physically freeze, but psychologically we stop. We can’t make important decisions and we try to keep things the same by maintaining the status quo.
  • Fight – This is self-explanatory.
  • Flight – We run away from a challenge or confrontation.

Understanding why we behave like we do can be very helpful. How this can cause us difficulties is that the Chimp part is five times stronger than the Human part of the brain, which is more objective. So our initial reactions are usually determined by the Chimp.

Hence we are wired to be fearful and scared as it keeps us safe and ensures longevity of the species. This was incredibly beneficial when we lived in troops inside caves. But that is not useful today when the marketplace demand is constantly changing and we have to be more creative and try new things.

I heard someone say “you can never fully get rid of the fear, but maybe you can learn to dance with it”.

If we start to understand fear and how to manage it enough so we can develop our talents and creativity, then what is the next stage?

Going…going… gone

A man I respect told me this simple question to ask ourselves, but it is really hard to honestly answer…

“Would they miss you if you were gone?”

Whatever “missed” means and whomever “they” are, is completely dependent on your situation.

Would it be ok if you take a moment to consider that rather uncomfortable question?

In the work that you currently do and the change you are trying to make, then would the people you serve (clients/customers/service users) miss you if you suddenly stopped tomorrow?

If the answer is, “probably not they’d just find someone else“, then firstly well done for being honest. Secondly, what could you start doing today that would make you more valuable and therefore more missed if you were no longer there.

What is your uniqueness?

Uniqueness comes in different forms and part of it can be trust.

What is Trust?

According to Charles Feltman (author of The Thin Book of Trust) Trust in the workplace is defined as
Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions. Whatever you choose to make vulnerable to the other’s actions, you do so because you believe their actions will support it or, at the very least, will not harm it. Some people tend to extend trust to others easily and with little or no evidence. They only withdraw their trust it if is betrayed. Others believe that people must earn their trust by demonstrating trustworthiness.

As we understand the fear of putting ourselves out there; creating something worth commenting on; building trust with those we serve; then as inevitable as day following night, there will be those that wish to criticise your work.

How do we deal with the external critic?

Brene brown (the author, researcher and story teller) has spoken about how Theodore Roosevelt’s quote below regarding the critic, changed her life and made her bolder.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

It is interesting how much time and effort we put into trying to please those that don’t really matter. The only real critics apart from ourselves should be those we love and care about their opinions of us and those that have stood in the arena where you are playing and therefore their opinion has some meaning.

What will it really take for you to evolve your talents?

I’ll leave the last words to Marianne Williamson (I have slightly edited it to make it shorter)…
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Enjoy your day because you decided today to do something to make things a little better for those you serve.

Matthew Broomhead
“Raising the level of Business Skills in Britain”
Creator of Broomhead Business Channel

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