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Achieving Success Through Creativity

confidence boyOn our journey to success we have two choices. We can work hard and be miserable. Or we could work hard and have fun. Most people would like to pick the latter route but instead go with the former. Why? Because most people believe that hard work and being miserable go hand and hand. I’m happy to report that doesn’t have to be true.

Yes, hard work is hard. Think about working out at a gym. Your heartrate increases, you pant, you sweat. Think about doing yard work. Again, you’re doing physical labor that makes you tired. But you also feel exhilirated when done. You’ve accomplished what you planned to do. You’ve implemented each step of your plan required to reach you goal. That feels good. So there’s two types of feeling good, the pure physicality of working your body and the mental aspect of working through your plan.

Now let’s take a step back to before the creation of your plan. There were many decisions that went into developing this specific plan. Let’s say you were raking leaves in your backyard. An apparently simple task. Here are some of the decisions you’ll need to make. Will you give yourself a deadline to complete the job? Will you use plastic or paper bags? Will you ask you kids to help? How many breaks will you take? Will you rake them into one big pile or many smaller ones? Will you let your kids jump in the pile or piles before bagging? What do you do with the stray rocks or branches you find?

The way you resolve these “problems” will determine how your plan develops. Even for a simple goal like ridding your backyard of leaves, there are numerous plans that you can follow. Which one you choose will determine the specific path you take in reaching your goal. There isn’t necessarily one path to your goal that is the best. There may be many of equal value. But it’s best that you choose one and then stay on it so as not to waste time and effort jumping back and forth.

When we speak about options, alternative paths and multiple approaches we enter the realm of creativity. This is an area which many people misunderstand as being the sole province of artists, writers and designers, or “creatives.” This idea could not be further from the truth. Many people see the output of creative individuals, like paintings, scultpture and books, and convince themselves that they could never do it this themselves. And then unfortunately they stop themselves from even trying. They forget to look at all the effort and years which the creatives spent honing their craft. They ignore the fact that an artist’s work did not just pop into existence one day. Let’s not forget that the road to success depends on making an attempt. And then we need to keep at it.

Another false assumption that people have regarding creative production is that the path of the creativity is straight and points directly to a masterpiece. Not true. A prime reason why an artist, or anyone for that matter, is successful is because they are not afraid to try multiple approaches. When they reach a dead end, they turn around and try a different route. But they don’t waste the time it took traveling towards the dead end. They realize that that effort was a learning process and use their new found knowledge to take them closer to the dream; even if they don’t yet know how to get there. The bottom line is that creatives are creative because they never give up, are flexible in their approach and are consistently learning.

These are the traits of creative people. And the good news…you can be one of them simply by cultivating a creative mindset. You may not be an artistic or a writer or an architect. You may be an accountant or a banker or a carpenter. Whatever your profession may be, you can benefit by being more creative. The key is to develop a mindset that allows you to come up with more than one idea. You don’t stop at that first thought. You record it and go for another one and then another. Soon you’ll have a collection of ideas. Only then are you ready to compare the ideas, retain the good ones and then combine them into an even better one. It’ll form the basis for your path for your plan of action. Follow the plan and you’ll be on your way to achieving your goal. In other words, you’ll be more likely to achieve success by beginning your journey with a creative mindset.

I’m not going to promise that you won’t encounter bumps, roadblocks and dead ends along the way. Those obstacles are a given, though I will leave you with this thought…by being creative your road to success can be an enjoyable learning process. Remember that reaching your success takes time, so you might as well have some fun on your way there.

© 2014 Seth Greenwald