Skip to content

What is a “Highly Creative” Person, Anyway?

"Crayons Colliding" by Yours Truly
“Crayons Colliding” by Yours Truly

This morning, as I was forcing myself out of sleep fog, I read a great article from Huffington Post titled “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Click HERE to read it for yourself. I found myself relating to just about every “habit” or behavior as described in the article. What stuck out to me the most, however, is that scientists have been straying away from the left brain/right brain descriptor, and have, instead, begun to point us towards the creative part of the brain. This makes so much sense to me, particularly because I would argue that I am a creative who uses both sides of her brain.

Lately, I’ve been doing impromptu research on the creative person in general, in hopes of finding some answers for myself. I’ve found myself unleashing my curiosity more and more. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and really want to ground myself in my self-awareness. Or perhaps it’s because I’m practicing my creative freedom so often these days, that I want to make sure what I create has meaning. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’ve become apathetic with so many things and wonder why the hell I just don’t care about said things I used to have anxiety over. Yeah, it’s definitely the latter.

Part of unleashing creativity also means letting go of a lot of other things. The past year has been an incredible journey for me as an artist, a writer, and a business owner. I see how so many pieces of that journey connected in order to lead me to the here and now…to this very blog post, even.

As I’ve opened up my mind to this path and to self-discovery, I’ve, at times, felt like a child again: finding things I like and things I don’t. And even being honest about it all. If I don’t like something, I admit it AND I stop doing it. (Within reason, of course. I don’t like paying bills, but ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, huh?) And if I like something, I am making more room for it in my life.

When I think of change, evolution, and style, I’m constantly reminded of Madonna. What has made her such a huge success has been her willingness to reinvent herself–her style, her sound, her very persona. And yet, she has remained an artist throughout; the term “artist” being the most important label for her career. She’s brilliant, she’s genius, she’s creative.

And that’s what I strive to be. Creative. Or, rather, Highly Creative.

Though I readily label myself as creative, I have come to understand that in order to keep such a title, one must constantly re-evaluate, reinvent, and question–ALWAYS, always question. And when you ask so many damn questions, it can very well drive you mad. However, if you keep asking those questions, you eventually learn how to ask the right questions. Not the right questions for your parents, or your partner, or your teacher, but for YOU. It’s a very relative, organic process, I believe. If we stop asking questions, if we stop being curious about life, then we start to stifle our creative brain and resort to right brain/left brain–feeling that there is some piece missing.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” -Albert Einstein

If you are truly a “highly creative” person, then I would bet all money that you can resonate with this. But don’t be too impressed, I don’t have that much money. 😉

Ernest Hemingway once said, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Perhaps that holds some truth to it; even Wisdom Literature says that the more knowledge a person gains, the more she or he will feel burdened. But I do not think this has to be an absolute–especially for the intelligent creative person. Sure, there is the feeling of torment when us creatives cannot be devoted to the activities we prefer (writing, painting, reading, playing an instrument, building, etc.).

However, there is something to be said of the creative person who actively pursues their passions and talents. I am finding that the more time I devote to what I love to do–to write and to create in a variety of ways–the better I feel. The nicer I am to those around me. The quicker my mind is to grasp difficult concepts. I’m expanding the creative part of my brain, finding harmony between the right and left brains.

When I spent the past several years shying away from my true passions, perhaps under the influence of lies such as: “There is no money in being an artist unless one is really amazing,” or “One cannot make a career out of writing if she or he isn’t first properly trained,” I found myself becoming increasingly unhappy. And finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I abandoned everything that had to do with my routined and overly-busy life. At first, I was somewhat lost. But then, when I found my own rhythm and gave myself space and time to go through self-discovery, I was happier. Even when the balance of my bank account was something I should have been stressing about.

So now, how does this all connect? Well, I think it’s important to remember that not all us creatives are created equally. There are people like me who have both a penchant for organization and routine, as well as sometimes having a messy workspace and a horrible short-term memory. And there are people like my youngest sister who are amazingly talented in artistry and have no room in their minds for things unrelated to their craft. Creatives must be nurtured, but no one will nurture them until they nurture themselves–and demonstrate just how devoted to their passions they are.

As the Huffington Post article explains, “highly creative” people are those who daydream often, observe just about everything, look for new challenges and experiences, are deep thinkers, and strategize. Without such habits, a highly creative person will begin to deteriorate. I know I did. I decayed for eight years until I couldn’t take it anymore. Either I had to make a choice to accept my lot in life and find some kind of contentment elsewhere, OR make a choice to start from scratch and follow my heart.

Following one’s heart is a very, VERY scary decision sometimes, but not following one’s heart…well, I think that’s even more scary.

If you are a creative person, and you’re already following your dreams and passions, then bravo! That is awesome. But if you’re a creative person who feels stifled and unsure…maybe you know you want a change but feel scared, or don’t know where to start: do some soul-searching and ask yourself: “What do I REALLY want?” Be honest with yourself–it might be surprising. Don’t believe that happiness and creativity are destined for someone else. And stop trying to talk yourself out of taking a risk.

I wish there was a magic formula for risk-taking that always ended in success, but there’s not. However, if you’re doing something that makes you happy, then that’s success in its own right. Nurture yourself, nurture your craft, and reach out to those who support what you want to do. Beautiful and lasting creations take time to build, so build carefully and passionately.

A Plethora of FREE Resources

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

If you’ve ever watched The Three Amigos, then you can appreciate the word “plethora” in this post’s title. Here’s a clip for your enjoyment, before I share a plethora of resources with you:

Click HERE for the definition of plethora if you still don’t know what it means.

And now, for the best part: FREE resources! Who doesn’t like free? If you’re an Evernote user, or just use the Internet (insert sarcastic giggle here), then this is for you.

I am an avid Evernote user, and I’ve created a public notebook chock full of great resources–just for you! If you’re looking for business, entrepreneur, writing, SEO, or marketing advice, then this is definitely something you’ll want to check out. During the month of February, I had several friends and colleagues ask me for advice about social media strategy, among other topics. And for each person, I directed her or him to my special, FREE RESOURCES public notebook.

Access the notebook by clicking HERE.

It’s super easy to use. If you already have Evernote, simply “join” the notebook. If you do not use Evernote, that’s cool. You’ll turn over to the bright side soon. In the meantime, you can view the notebook without registering for an account. 

I hope you find these resources helpful and useful. I’m constantly collecting great articles, etc., with all of you in mind, and add something new every week. So, take advantage of the FREE advice and strategy input.

You’re welcome.

7K0A9984

Don’t Make a Resolution; Set Some Goals

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I’m not a big fan of making resolutions, but I am a big fan of setting goals. And a new year is the perfect time to do so. Resolutions are typically outcome based, whereas goals can help us change behavior and habits in order to reach them. Thus, goals can help to create better behavior. (Plus, barely anyone keeps a resolution anyway.)

First World Probs Resolutions 

There are, of course, many ways to set goals, but keeping it simple is a good idea. In my attempt to keep things simple while also trying to be clever, I’ve come up with an easy way to set healthy and achievable goals—both for individuals and businesses: The HELA Way. (I hope that at least elicited a chuckle.)

7K0A0223 

Here’s how I break down The HELA Way:

 

  • Health
  • Education
  • Love
  • Actualization (Spirit & Self)

 

It’s been a habit of mine, every new year, to set 4-5 achievable goals, by using wisdom literature as my guide. The categories in which I develop goals are universal: physical, knowledge, relationships, and spiritual/self-growth. Keeping to this particular pattern has helped me to reach my goals just about every year. Plus, I am constantly reassessing and measuring my progress.

 

Here’s an explanation of what The HELA Way means, and how you can apply it in your own life:

 

H is for HEALTH. If you don’t have your health, you can have everything else in the world and still be miserable. Health truly is everything. What goal can you set for your health in 2014? What do you currently do for your physical well-being that can simply be improved upon?

 

For example, if you work out twice a week, see if you can add one more day to your regimen. One more day a week adds up to 52 more days of working out during the year. Or perhaps you don’t work out but know you need to move your body more. What would it look like for you to start walking for 10 minutes a day, 2 times a week?

 

Physical well-being is crucial to being creative and productive, but you don’t need to be a body builder to achieve good health. Again, keep it simple and build upon new habits.

 

E is for EDUCATION. Improving our minds should always be a priority, and there are many ways to do so. Do you read every day? I’m not talking about emails, either. I’m talking about reading a short article that is relevant to your field. Whether you’re a writer, marketing director, or construction contractor, you should be reading something each day—or at least each week—that will teach you something new about your field. It doesn’t have to be someone’s dissertation; it can be something short and sweet like a blog post. 🙂

 

L is for LOVE. “All you need is love”—and a host of other things. Ha. But seriously, having love in our lives is a grand and necessary thing. Having love in our lives is mostly provided through building good relationships with others. In 2014, choose at least ONE relationship that is important to you, and assess some areas, which you can work on to improve it. Remember: it’s not about you, but about how you can give to others—even if you sometimes may not receive anything in return.

 

Click HERE and HERE to read articles on the importance of love in our lives.

7K0A0619 

A is for ACTUALIZATION—spirit and self. I personally believe that we should all have something outside of ourselves in order to find harmony in our lives. For me, it’s my spiritual beliefs that keep me grounded. For you, it may be something else. But we cannot look to ourselves for all the answers. It just doesn’t work. What kind of spiritual goal can you set for this year?

 

Self-actualization is the other part of the acronym, and by this term, I simply mean self-improvement. I do not personally believe that we will ever “arrive” in this life, which is why it is incredibly important to do self-checks—and often. What is one goal you can set for yourself this year; one goal that will help shape you into a better person?

 

The goal can be something as simple as getting into the habit of rejecting negative thoughts—a goal that is actually harder than it sounds, but is worth doing. Think of something simple but effective. Something that you’ll be proud of at the end of the year.

 

Other Goals to Consider

 

Many of my clients are writers, and I encourage them to set writing goals. Perhaps it’s a daily word goal, or finishing a novel they’ve been working on for the past two years.

 

For business owners, The HELA Way goal-setting guide can also be useful. LOVE can have to do with customer/client engagement goals. EDUCATION can be for owners and their employees—improving everyone’s knowledge about a service or product, etc. You get the idea.

IMG_3310 

Goals are not just “things” to be set up in January and then revisited December 31st. Setting daily, monthly, and quarterly goals is ALWAYS a good thing! Happy goal setting and Happy New Year!

IMG_1877

Arguments for Using Synonyms

A few weeks ago, I hosted a good friend, author Robin Woods, on my blog. She provided us all with a very helpful, organized chart of synonyms for “said” and “walk.” Click HERE to read the post and download the cool chart.

For the most part, many people received the FREE guide with high levels of gratitude. In fact, it has been my most viewed post this year. But there were also a surprising number of naysayers and I feel the need to provide a rebuttal.

In all the informal and formal training I’ve had in the English language (heck, Spanish, too!), I have been taught to avoid word repetition. Hence, the writing exercises we love to hate: exercises with synonyms.

Of course there are exceptions—there always are, right? But in the past two decades, as my writing grew from something I was “good at” to my passionate pursuit and career, I’ve noticed that I appropriately edit out repeats in my writing or become annoyed as a reader when I spot word repetition.

One of the best writing teachers I ever had was my twelfth grade English teacher. Not only was he snarky and witty, but he was a damn good teacher. I remember a particular assignment for a book report. We had just finished reading C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce (an all-time favorite), and were told to write a two page, analytical paper. The length made it sound all too easy.

Upon bringing the first draft back to class, our teacher announced that we would be editing the paper—tearing it apart would have been a better description—in order to identify any words that had been trampled to death through the horrible habit of replication. Being an eighteen-year-old-know-it-all, I thought Please…this’ll be easy. I’m a good writer. But that morning, I was devastated to see my own red pen at war with the crisp white paper and black letters in my “awesome” essay.

247486941993359037_qmzGczGP_cImage via Some eCards.

We weren’t even allowed to repeat the same verb! You have an “is” already? Well then cross out the one in the next sentence, because it’s not allowed. Not only did we use more dynamic verbs, but we also learned how to rearrange sentence structure in order to improve the flow of our prose. Once a few peer editors, and myself, combed through my paper, it was stellar. I mean…one of the best papers I had ever written in high school. And the language wasn’t “flowery” by any means. It simply read well and expressed my thoughts more succinctly than I could have imagined.

That ingenious assignment made me a better writer and editor. But it also cursed me with an eye that now catches repetition and becomes easily irritated. And I know…we ALL are guilty of this writing crime and sometimes I’m just lazy and don’t care. However, when writing something that you want to be great, be careful with what you repeat.

I will sheepishly admit that my most repeated word is “was.” Ugh. Still trying to work on that one.

IMG_0178
My mug shot for overuse of “was.”

Recently, I read a good, short article on Create Space about such practices. Click HERE to read it. I think the example she gives is awesome.

So what exactly did those Negative Nellies say about my blog post on synonyms? Oh, you know, things like…

“It’s inadvisable to use synonyms for said.”

“Why would it be necessary to say it in another way if a character ‘said’ it?”

They even quoted Elmore Leonard (God rest his soul) at me: “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character, the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. “

Les Edgerton, in his book Hooked: write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go, also has something to say about dialogue tags. He argues: “Especially avoid using adverbial qualifiers for dialogue tags; instead, stick to said for almost all of your tags.” (pg. 31)

And yeah, I get it. I really do.

But may I ask this: what if my character is about to face certain death if she is heard aloud? Wouldn’t the reader want to read this:

“I can’t do this without you, Geoffrey. You have to show me what to do,” she whispered as they crouched behind a couch, waiting for the sound of footsteps to dissolve.

Instead of:

“I can’t do this without you, Geoffrey. You have to show me what to do,” she said as they crouched behind a couch, waiting for the sound of footsteps to dissolve.

I don’t know…maybe I’m thinking too much like a screenwriter, eager to show my reader what is happening in every aspect that I can. I want you to know that my character is whispering—not just saying something—but whispering it. Or pleading something. Or replying to the question that was just asked. Maybe she’s even breathing a statement, indicating that she is so tired or anxious about something, she can barely speak.

This is NOT necessary in every case and can certainly deter from the story if overdone. But my argument is that using “said” every time should not be an absolute. There is creative freedom to be had by all of us crazy writers.

crazy workImage via Some eCards.

Personally, when I read fiction that draws me in, it typically doesn’t have “said” repeated often, and the writer uses feeling words that describe how something is being said. Everyone is different, but that’s what I like and what flows best—to me.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, Merlin, by Stephen R. Lawhead. Though “said” is used more often than not throughout the book’s conversations—in the proper way, of course—this passage contains other dialogue tags that are appropriate and do not deter from the story.

We rode on a pace or so, and then I reined up. “Pelleas, listen carefully to me now. You have found me and brought me back to the world of men, and I thank you for that. But it is in my mind that you will soon curse the day you begged my service. You will wish, perhaps, that you had never wasted a day in search for me.”

“Forgive me, my lord, but your own heart will prove traitor before I do,” he swore. And I knew he meant it with all that was in him.

“What I have to do will earn no man’s thanks,” I warned him. “It could be that before I am through I will be despised from one end of this island to the other, with every hand raised against me and those who stand with me.”

“Let others make their choice; I have made mine, my Lord Merlin.”

He was in earnest, and now that I knew he understood how hard it would be, I knew I could trust him with both our lives. “So be it,” I said. “May God reward your faith, my friend.”

See? Only ONE “said” in that and I think Lawhead’s writing is brilliant! Honestly, though, what kind of writer would I be if I weren’t willing to hear every side? I’m curious to know thoughts that you have about using synonyms for “said” and synonyms in general. Be nice, but speak your mind. Let’s have it!

Until next time…

Cheers!

Special Guest: Braxton A. Cosby Shares His Writing Endeavors

I am so honored and thrilled to play host today to Dr. Braxton A. Cosby. You’ve heard of his uncle–the beloved Bill Cosby–and Dr. Cosby, like his uncle, seeks to make the world a better place through his experience and influence. His latest adventures include writing Young Adult fiction. ProtoStar, book #1 of his Star-Crossed Saga is due out next year. Check it out on Goodreads by clicking HERE. And coming soon–VERY soon–is his novel The School of Ministry: The Windgate. Below, Cosby explains just what this book is about, and gives us some insights into his writing process and goals as an author.

Dr. Cosby and I connected on Twitter–isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? Therefore, through some messaging, I have the awesome privilege of reading and reviewing an ARC of The Windgate, and will post as soon as I’m finished with it. But now, without further ado, I’ll hand you all over to Dr. Cosby so you can find out more about him through an interview we conducted via e-mail:

BraxtonBIO: Dr. Braxton A. Cosby received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami and has been an experienced clinician for over 12 years. He is also a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. He currently co-hosts a weekly radio show with Jamie Dukes on Atlanta’s own 1380 WAOK called “Ask The Fat Doctors” where they discuss current events and matters of health and wellness. Braxton (A.K.A. the FatDoc) runs his own blog called “Cosby’s Corner”, where he dishes on almost everything from books and movies, to fitness and sports. He also models, acts, and is an award-winning Young Adult author.

Interview

TH: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

BC: Well, admittedly, my knack for storytelling is definitely in the genes. My Uncle has been doing stand-up for years where he shares his tales of fatherhood and family. My stories probably parallel his in some aspects because the focus is on values of accountability and the importance of making the right choices and accepting the consequences.

TH: What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

BC: I think it is so important for people to share their culture with everyone. There is such a big world out there, with communities of people that can be appreciated from various aspects. Storytelling is a great way to share that with others. I try to write stories that have people everyone can relate to in some way beyond color and ethnicity. The focuses of my books are to pull people in to the personalities of the characters and the hope is that people will identify with them in some way or another.

TH: What does your writing process “look” like? How do you get your ideas and inspiration? 

BC: I start with an outline and I brainstorm ideas that I think would be interesting to the story and see if they fit. The characters have to fit, the setting has to make sense, and the ending has to be engaging. If it all works, then I start to piece it together and make it flow from beginning to end. Moving things around as I write has become a practice that although slightly painful at first, is much appreciated once it is executed and smoothed out.

TH: What is the genre in which you write and why did you choose it?

BC: I love Young Adult. I have to admit that I still envy young folks. The more that I am around them I appreciate the essence of being young. The responsibilities are less, the feeling of invincibility is there and the lack of cynicism is daunting. I love the way our young people today are so accepting of each other’s differences. It’s not perfect, but overall, they are so much less serious as generations past. I think that’s why they can lose themselves in books so easily. The pitch to them is ridiculously less nerve-racking as speaking to adults.

SOM Book cover 720 x 480 Centered grey JPEGcompressedTH: You live a busy life. How long did it take to finish The School of Ministry: The Windgate and did you ever strike a balance between writing and all your other commitments? 

BC: Wow. It is kind of crazy. I do have the gift of “Stick-to-it-ness” and that’s what helps me stay focused. SOM probably took 3 months to complete the first rough draft (one that I thought was the final draft). Then, the much needed editing process: probably another 2 months.

Navigating the schedule is something that has become an artwork. I have so many plates spinning at once that I wonder how I get through it all. But I just add things as necessary and let God sort out what needs to go. Who knows what task or project is going to be the next big thing.

TH: Can you briefly tell us what the book and the series are about?

BC: It’s the spiritual successor of The Harry Potter Series, in a nutshell. Orphan Ziv, trying to find the meaning of life, is recruited by a secret society when his lifelong friend and crush goes missing. They ask him to join them in their quest to hunt down evil and protect the weak, promising to help him find his friend.

Along the way, he learns that he has gifts and talents of his own that must be perfected if he is to both survive and find the things he is looking for: love and the truth. There’s a wonderful triple love triangle that evolves, awesome action scenes, and comical dialogue throughout the book. Even though the story is told through Ziv’s perspective, the development of the other characters in the story is what I’m the most proud of.

TH: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?  

BC: Tell a fresh, new story, that hadn’t been told before. Also, give young people something that was sleek and unique, that incorporates spirituality as being both real and cool. I think I came close.

TH: How does your book relate to your spiritual practice?

BC: Believing as much as possible; without always having the visual proof that there is a plan in place that is directing your life. Sometimes road maps are best left at home and that voice that speaks to you at the times when you most feel discouraged could ultimately be the only directive you’ll ever receive. Life is tough, but the decision to Choose is the most essential component of our fate.

TH: What are your thoughts on writing a book series and what will we see from you in your literary future?

BC: Love it or leave it. It is a huge endeavor because you are always thinking ahead as you write. Do I save this for part three, or put it in part two? How do I introduce this character, and can I kill off this one here? Wait a minute, that’s one of the main focuses of part five! It can be kind of crazy. But once you structure the thing, there is nothing that has been more rewarding in my professional career.

SOM has five planned books, while The Star-Crossed Saga (coming in early 2014) is a trilogy. I will be adding short books in between to give more background on characters and settings to keep readers interested. I have a lot of plans for each series. 

TH: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

BC: Some of the toughest criticism is when people make statements about your work without offering objective examples. I don’t mind the comments, but show me in the work where it is so that I can possibly make it better. Nobody’s perfect and I’d like to make something that is my best effort. In the midst of the criticism, hopefully I can find some positive takeaways that can make the stories better and me a better writer. 

Best compliment: A recent reviewer said that SOM was fresh and new; they hope they can have the opportunity to review the next installment. That’s exactly what I want people to get from it. 

TH: What is your favorite book and why?

BC: The Hunger Games. I’ve only read the first two because I am trying to follow as close to the movies as I can. Suzanne Collins is a literary “beast”. Her writing is magnificent!

TH: How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

BC: Prayer from my grandmother, love from my mother, support from my wife, and a whole heck of a lot of perseverance. Life is not easy by any haul and I know that I’ve earned my way to the point I am today. I love what I do.

TH: What advice can you offer to aspiring and/or struggling writers?

BC: Find a story, don’t re-write one. Believe in what you have come up with and choose a path to publication. Don’t let it choose you. You have to decide why you are writing in the first place. Beyond the money and fame lies the true essence of a story that will move minds and hearts.

TH: Anything else you would like to share?

BC: Thank you for the interview Tamar, and for those who have connected with me: I hope you enjoy everything I’m giving to the world today.

 

Find Dr. Braxton A. Cosby at these sites:

Series website: www.theschoolofministry.com

Twitter: @Cosbykid_Fatdoc

Website: www.braxtoncosby.com

Blog: www.cosbyscorner.com

Life’s Too Short to Hate your Job

Today and tomorrow, I am attending an amazing (satellite) conference called The Global Leadership Summit, hosted by the Willow Creek Association. This is my fourth time attending and personally, I believe the conference gets better each year. Today, for example, I was able to hear the tried and true wisdom of General Colin Powell, Bill Hybels, Bob Goff, and Mark Burnett–to name a few. However, my favorite speaker is and shall remain Patrick Lencioni.

If you don’t know about Mr. Lencioni, he is the founder and president of The Table Group, as well as a best-selling author of business/leadership books. Earlier this year, I finished his amazing book The Advantage, which is about what it takes to build and run a healthy organization. And health is just the beginning of a great organization. In this post, I’d specifically like to share what Lencioni spoke about at this year’s conference.

You see…healthy organizations go deeper than the operations of any company and the satisfaction of any customer. Yes, the leader shapes and drives a business culture, but the employees are at the heart of the cause. They help sustain the vision. And sadly, many Americans and other people around the world today are disengaged in their work, don’t know what the vision of their company is, and would describe their job as mundane or perhaps miserable. Too often leaders are not engaging with their employees, and on a larger scale, many companies are not engaging with their followers/customers. It’s a disease in business that needs to be wiped out.

7K0A0986

Job misery is exactly what Lencioni spoke about. He said there are three things that cause job misery: Anonymity, Irrelevance, and a term he made up–“Immeasurement“.

As he stated about anonymity, “No one likes to be anonymous”, especially employees. Perhaps you may feel that way about your job–or maybe, as a manager, you have yet to take interest in your employees. Sure, we all need to pay our bills and make rent, but wouldn’t it be much more pleasant to make your paycheck while enjoying the work? Wouldn’t it be nice to work at a place that cares about your well being just as much as your productivity?

So his takeaway from avoiding anonymity: “Take interest in your employees [or even your followers] and [remember] good people don’t leave jobs where they’re known.”

In regards to irrelevance: A good leader will “help people figure out what their relevance is.” People need to know that they matter–that what they do matters.

The takeaway from this lesson: “Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment.”

Finally, “immeasurement“: “People need feedback.” As a manager, do you allow your employees to assess themselves? Do you give them tools that empower them and help them become better? Are you helping them see both the quantitative AND qualitative results? As an employee, how do you measure that you’re doing a good job?

Takeaway: “Money is a satisfier.” Money, as I stated before, plays a role in our jobs, but it’s not enough to make us completely fulfilled. How, then, can you measure your success and satisfaction in your vocation? Being known, having reason and purpose in your work, and being able to measure appropriate results, are all driving factors for job satisfaction.

7K0A0223

I recently read an article from Gallup Business Journal about job disengagement. The argument was that disengagement in one’s job is worse than having no job. They did a study on Germans, who still uphold their impeccable and historical work ethic, and found that though 7 out of 10 Germans would still work even if they didn’t have to, most Germans would rather be without a job than work for a horrible manager. Click HERE to read the full article. They would rather turn away from their inherent culture of working hard–no matter what–and be happily jobless than hopeless in employment. I don’t know about you, but that speaks VOLUMES to me.

Another article I read from The Gallup Blog about “10 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience” lists items that are centered around employees first. Click HERE to read. 10 out of 10 (!) suggestions for improving the customer experience are ALL focused on the employees BEFORE looking outward to clientele and the general masses. That says something. Gallup gets it, just like Patrick Lencioni does: If you have happily engaged employees who know what they’re doing and feel good about it, your business is going to thrive, your customers will be happy and likely to recommend you, and you’ll become a better leader. Not a micro-manager, not a dictator, and not some idiot boss.

7K0A0597

So here’s my challenge to both sides of the coin: Leaders, are you helping your employees and/or subordinates engage in their work–in the organization? And employees, are you happy with where you’re at–do you enjoy going in to work every day? Do you know what you’re doing, what’s expected of you? Do you feel valued?

As leaders, it’s our job to not waste time by having unhappy, unproductive employees. And we need to take responsibility for job engagement trickling downward into our organization. Employees learn from us–from our example. Are we engaged in the work? Are we happy? Are we able to measure success and help our people do the same?

As employees, it’s our job to help further the vision and growth of our company. And if we just can’t picture ourselves doing that, or we dread the work, our boss, our peers…why stay? Why live with a miserable job, day in and day out? Is there something that you feel compelled to do, to lead, to begin, to change?

Let me put it this way: What if you woke up tomorrow and found out you only had 30 days left to live? Would you change the life you’re now living–would you continue to go in to work–or would you do something else?

IMG_3289

That very question is something I’ve been asking myself lately–not just about my job, but about everything in general. What would I change if I knew my final days were upon me? I know it can be overwhelming, but like the title of this post states: Life is too short to hate [insert applicable phrase here].

So as we seek to become better leaders, workers, spouses, friends, parents, sisters, brothers, etc., may we be bold enough to have the courage to leap into something greater, if that’s where we are being pushed.

Writer Resource: Synonyms for “Said” and “Walk”

Today I have a special guest and good friend, Robin Woods, sharing some great writing tips. And rather than type out paragraph after paragraph to convey this awesome resource, Robin has compiled an excellent chart, available for YOU to download for FREE! Woohoo! I am so excited about this chart, because Robin is very organized. Therefore, I encouraged her to put her process to paper to help other writers. As a seasoned English teacher and author, this lady knows her stuff. I hope that you will find this resource extremely useful.

Also, just wanted to say that you’ll want to stay tuned for THIS Wednesday because Robin will be back on my blog, sharing the beautiful cover for her up-and-coming book Allure–part of “The Watchers” series. Plus, it’s her birthday that day, and I’m sure you’re eager to wish her a happy one. 🙂 Until then, have fun with the chart!

Click the chart to download in PDF format.
Click the chart to download in PDF format.

If you’re eager to learn more about Robin and simply can’t wait until Wednesday, check her out at these places:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Robin-Woods/e/B009H8V62C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinwoodsfiction
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RWoodsFiction
Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5390266.Robin_Woods