Joanie Connell hosts a Women Lead Radio interview with Natasha Kozaily, owner of Kalabash School of Music + the Arts. Not only does Natasha own the music and arts school, she also sings in a band and raises money for the International Rescue Committee, among other things.
Joanie asks Natasha about how she brings creativity to entrepreneurship. She says to her employees and students, “this is a place to dream.” Listen here.
Highly structured lives, busy schedules and constant communication mean that employees today have less of a propensity to be creative. We think we have to buy tools, refurnish offices, and hire consultants to help us be creative, when what we really need is a little old fashioned downtime.
Ironically, the innovation that has led us to this point is what’s stopping us from continuing. We need to get back to the basics to be creative.
Here are three forgotten ways to boost creativity.
Remember when you were a kid and you told your parents you were bored? What was their response? While today’s parents would hand over an iPhone to play with, the old-fashioned response would be something to the effect of “A little boredom will do you good.” It turns out they were right. A study by Mann and Cadman reported in the Creativity Research Journal shows that being bored can elicit divergent thinking — the generation of new and different ideas. In other words, boredom can lead to creativity.
Does this mean we should be bored at work if we want to innovate? Well, yes, at least sometimes. Forget increasing employee engagement and productivity for a moment. Perhaps you need to let your employees disengage and do nothing for a little while to harness their creativity. When we are too busy, we don’t have time to let our minds wander — and that is what creativity thrives on.
So when your boss comes in and catches you daydreaming, tell her you’re harnessing your creativity.
Stop distracting yourself with mindless chatter. Creativity requires time to think. When you direct your attention to e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, you’re not giving yourself time to think. Take a look at the creative people you know. Chances are, they are more reflective and less obsessed with what’s trending.
In fact, a study conducted by David Strayer suggests that unplugging and reconnecting with nature can increase creativity. Meditating can also lead to greater creativity. Creative film director David Lynch is a perfect example. If you’re more of a techie than a yogi, evidence is mounting that simply taking a break from Facebook can also lead to more creative and productive practices.
But don’t let the research sway you. Use your common sense to avoid distracting nonsense.
Creativity doesn’t happen on a schedule. Your creative inspiration may take hours, days, or weeks to occur. Scientists call this the creative “incubation period.” Contrary to popular belief, time pressures stifle creativity, according to Teresa Amabile, a leading creativity researcher. Amabile also says that too little pressure might lull people into inaction — reinforcing the notion that boredom at work is useful sometimes, but not all the time.
Patience is almost nonexistent in today’s work culture. It’s an old-fashioned concept developed much before the time of Instagram. But some things can’t be hurried. For true innovation to occur, we need to let connections within our brain occur and that can be at unpredictable moments. We need to have faith in ourselves and our employees that these moments will occur. Given time, they will.
When it comes to rushing your employees to innovate, give them a break—literally.
In sum, go ahead and disengage, stop responding to emails, and come back at some later unspecified time with a creative idea your boss will love (or something like that).
“Some business leaders have attempted to make work stimulating, fun, and educational for Millennials, but I’d like to suggest an alternative approach. Instead of preparing the workplace for them, prepare them for the workplace.“
A college education is important, but learning from real life experiences is more.
Fifty executives at a large pharmaceutical company went through an assessment center to help the company develop its talent pipeline. They were assessed on sixteen competencies, or success factors. “Technical expertise” (what you learn in college) was just one factor; being socially agile, building strategic relationships, influencing others, maintaining composure under pressure, and driving change were among the fifteen other critical factors that are not taught in college.
Here are nine real life factors that typically contribute to an employee’s success in a job.
Leadership, courage, and decision-making ability
Social agility, being a team player, and building relationships
Communication and influence
Creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurialism
Planning and execution
Facilitating and adapting to change; resilience
Drive for results
Self-awareness and self-development
Integrity and organizational values
How do we learn these skills, if not in college? By taking on responsibility, venturing into unchartered ground, and taking time out to reflect.
What are some actions that you are taking to develop these skills? I’d love to hear your comments.
The factor I’m learning the most on right now is communication and influence. I’ve broadened my reach to social networking. Learning how to communicate on the internet and how to be heard are two important skills that I certainly didn’t learn in college!
People often ask me why I wrote the book. The answer is I wrote Flying without a Helicopter because it needed to be written. Managers kept coming to me with frustrations about how to handle the new generation of workers. At the same time, many of them had 20-something kids moving back home because they couldn’t make it their own. The connection had to be made: raising children in overprotected and over-structured environments creates adults who rely on others to solve their problems and keep them happy. Ask anyone who’s been there and they will tell you it’s not a good place to be.
What is the main message and who should read it?
The main message of the book is that parents need to let kids develop independence and resilience to make it in the real world. The book is for parents, managers, educators, and youth themselves. It focuses on developing resilience, independence, creativity, and communication skills and is written from the perspective of the workplace.
What is a book release celebration?
The Book Release Celebration is a party to celebrate the completion of the book and thank everyone who helped make it happen. There will be live music and a photography exhibit, as well as food, wine, and beer. Of course, there will be books for sale, as well as signing, but the main focus of the evening is to have fun. There will be raffles for door prizes throughout the evening. The event is free, but, to reduce waste, we are asking people to bring a cup for wine or beer or support Kill the Cup by purchasing a reusable cup for only $5. Please join us at 3rd Space on Friday, January 23rd, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for an enjoyable evening with a celebratory vibe. RSVP on Face Book or contact us at Flexible Work Solutions.
What is a social media book launch?
A social media book launch can be many things, but in this instance it is an intense week of promoting the book across social media platforms and online stores. There will be many blogs, articles, and book reviews shared throughout the week, and many promotions will be offered to encourage book sales, shares, tweets, blogs, and so on. It is definitely a week to stay tuned for chances to win prizes, get deals on books, coaching and speaking engagements, and learn useful ways to build resilience, creativity and other workplace skills.
My husband said to me one day, “Do you know what I love about you?” My heart beat a little faster as I fluffed my hair and stood up a little straighter. “You get things done.” He finished.
I tried not to let my disappointment show. “I get things done? Seriously? That’s your compliment?” The conversation in my head began. But, I reflected for a moment. “It is true, I do get things done.” I reconciled and simply said “Thanks.”
One of the things that differentiates people who get things done from people who don’t is that they actually DO it. It’s as simple as that. They don’t sit around and worry about it. They don’t think of all the things that can go wrong. They don’t rouse up all the reasons why they can’t do it. They just do it.
WHAT’S THE SECRET TO GETTING THINGS DONE?
The first steps and the last steps are the hardest. What stops many people is taking action in the first place. Another stumbling block is lack of follow through. We talk about these in business language as being “results oriented” and having “execution skills.” You can talk all day about getting results and you can brainstorm ideas on how to get good results, but if you don’t execute, it won’t happen. Likewise, if you don’t follow through till the very last step, you won’t get the results either.
I just finished a book and people often say to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’m impressed that you actually did it.” And that’s the secret. I just did it. I wanted to write a book, I took the first steps, and continued on, followed through till the very end and now it’s out there. I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t. Getting things done rarely is. I ran into many stumbling blocks along the way, but I didn’t let them stop me because I wanted to get it done. I’ll also admit that following through till the end has been excruciating at times, but work always is. In fact, I write about that in my book.
Engineers are great at figuring out what might go wrong. But the good ones don’t worry about it; they prepare for it, work around it, or fix it or sometimes just live with the fact that nothing’s ever perfect. In other words, it’s okay to recognize potential obstacles, but worrying about them does no good. “Problem solving” is another skill we talk about in the workplace as being critical to success—in any job. As the complexity of the task grows, so does the number of problems. Expecting problems and working through them, not only require creativity, but also resilience. But what they don’t need is worrying and fretting and gloom and doom.
GETTING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS DONE
Making a commitment to getting something done is a good first step, but then you need to take action. For example, making a resolution to get fit requires you to exercise. Sometimes the hardest step is to make it out the door to the gym, the jogging path, or wherever. But if you commit to getting out the door, no matter how tired or unmotivated you are, you will find that you’ve actually gotten something done. You made it there. The next step is easy because you’re already on a roll.
Keeping up with your resolutions can be tricky. You may get busy or frustrated with your fitness plan after a couple of months, but don’t give up. Remember, the difference between people who get things done and those who don’t is that they just DO it.
This blog is actually a vlog about my new book. Spend 2 1/2 minutes watching this short video interview and help me come up with a new title for the book.
I’ll have more information on the book available soon. If you have suggestions for a catchy title, I’d love your ideas. The current working title is “Lessons from the Workplace: What Parents and Schools Are Missing.”
I recently posted a guest blog at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego on the issue of risk mitigation. The blog uses the recent chaos that ensued after the snowfall in the South as an example for thinking about mitigating risk in companies. Click on this link to read the blog. It will inspire you to ask the right questions beforehand, to be prepared and not caught totally off guard when unexpected things happen at your company.