Much of the work we do at Axialent is organizational culture change. It is complex work to align the people strategy to the business strategy. An equally important aspiration for us is having people express their true selves at work. I often say to a room full of leaders as we start a program “Your life clock does not go on pause when you go to work”. I say this because I believe that there is no distinction between life and work, your work days are clearly days of your precious life. A part of expressing oneself includes fun and creativity. You might remember that back when you were a child, there were games that you loved to play. Perhaps time passed easily and you were focused and committed to simply playing. I would say in those moments: You were having FUN! Often something happens when we become adults. For some reason, we stop playing and we assume games are for kids and work is a very serious business, pun intended. We also get messages that direct us to “be a certain way” and gradually start bringing less and less of ourselves fully to our work. I have often seen leaders who are humorous, warm and compelling ON BREAKS and quite dry and serious during the program or when they are presenting in front of the group. Now, don’t think I’m saying that we should eat candy all day and be silly or hyper at the office, but we can attain a certain lightness of spirit that comes when you decide to have a mindset of make things fun and commit to being fully yourself ON and OFF stage. Another thing that comes much easier to us as children is being creative. Stepping outside of comfort zones and trying something new just comes naturally to children. When we get older, we become more set in our ways and habitual. Really reflecting on how you are doing what you are doing takes intention and practice. This awareness gives you an opportunity to be more creative in your approach. Imagine what would be possible for you if you were to develop a mindset that gives you openness to taking risks and a talent for creativity simply by being more fully yourself?
Here’s a challenge for you.
– Take a look at what is in your calendar for this week. Think about what you can do to bring more FUN into each activity no matter how routine.
– Take time to reflect on who you are at your best (who are you with your best friend, your child, your pet, your partner) and compare that to who you are when you interact with your colleagues, when you are making a presentation, even the way you compose an email or lead a conference call. What is the opportunity for you to close the gap between your “work self” and your “real self”?
To increase your creativity mindset, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone on these three levels: Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally.
Physically Step Out of The BOX:
• Arrange meeting activities around movement. Instead of meeting for lunch or coffee, meet for a walk, a bike ride, a friendly game of tennis or invite a colleague or client to try something new with you (a new activity, sport, Zumba, pilates, etc.)
• Take your work team on a walk and picnic (with healthy foods of course). There is nothing like fresh air to simulate creative ideas and solutions. There is also something about getting out of the office!
• Sign up for a charity walk or fun run in your area. Your company may even be willing to sponsor such an event. It is great fun and great marketing.
• Find work activities that you can do AWAY from your computer and away from your desk so you can be more focused and more creative.
• Think of some of your childhood games you enjoyed and invite them back into your life (if you loved the trampoline, get a rebounder for your office, ride your bike to work a few days a week, etc.)
Mentally Step Out of the BOX:
• Read the latest books and literature outside of your industry and/or a subject you really interested in to simulate your mind and get new ideas.
• Take a course you have always wanted to on a subject that supports your work or improves your skills in new areas. It is a great opportunity to learn something new and network with like-minded people.
• Attend the WWW University. The internet has a plethora of information and can be a huge resource to you (a TED talk a day, anyone?). Research innovative ways to work on the issues you are dealing with at work.
• Try Sudoko or Crosswords for mental stimulation.
Emotionally Step Out of the BOX:
• Share your career dreams and aspirations with someone you don’t know well (dare to inspire them).
• Share your triumphs and fears with your partner or best friend (dare to be vulnerable).
• Write down very specifically your one, five and ten year vision for your career (dare to claim what you want).
• Find someone every day to acknowledge (dare to express gratitude).
When things in the office seem stuffy, serious or political, use your newfound knowledge and sense of play to lighten the mood and improve everyone’s experience. Lightness and fun is contagious and before you know it you’re whole team will be in on the game of being fully themselves.