How can a manager predict the lifecycle of a creative hire? What can be done to keep creativity flowing on the team every day?
Creatives often burn out. They can even go over a cliff from which there is no return, negating the relevance of past performance that managers relied upon during the hiring process.
The Star Wars movie franchise is the perfect example of creative burnout. The original film is still considered by many to be the greatest science-fiction movie of all time. A young and hungry George Lucas wrote the script, directed it, and his team repeatedly created technologies that did not previously exist to solve for desired creative outcomes.
In his second film, Empire Strikes Back, the magic continued. The rich philosophy of The Force touched us deeply and made us believe that we were more than just crude physical matter. Through discipline and self-awareness we could achieve true power.
Then came the disappointing prequels that seemed to be more about special effects than substance. What happened George? Where did it all go?
Producing a steady stream of unique creative assets is not easy. If you are a content manager like me, you are responsible for producing thousands of words each week, finding or designing images, and serving everything in an aesthetically appealing manner.
Below are five fascinating articles that explore the psychology of creativity and creative burnout. They also provide actionable advice to extend employee creativity indefinitely:
Let’s start by exploring why we burnout. Why do we sometimes grow bored, uninspired and lose our energy? Sophia interviews coaches Val Nelson and Beth Buelow for further insights and ideas on how to reignite creativity.
Beth describes her experience of burnout, as “an emotional aspect of not having access to my usual coping mechanisms, then there’s a physical aspect of diminished energy and inability to focus.” Val shares that our distractions may be a clue that we are fading. Social media is a way of masking the symptoms of burnout: “It’s like having coffee when what you need is sleep.”
We need to take a look at what we are doing and evaluate our tasks by how exciting they are for us. Then we can step away from our work to refresh or reassess how we do what we do. “Sometimes we can become attached to the way we do things and forget that there might be other approaches,” says Beth.
Where does the wisdom come from that makes creativity possible?
Dr. Dossey collects thoughts from the world’s greatest scientists and writers to address “Source”. This is where we get the ingredients to formulate a new idea, compose a piece of music, or paint a beautiful masterpiece. Creative thoughts are not self-generated, they are essentially received and expressed from a place greater than our individual selves. Remember to give your creative process space and downtime, as these thoughts are most readily accessed through meditation, reverie, and dreams.
Ok, let’s get down to brass tacks:
1) Stay curious and ask questions. Others may do things a certain way because of tradition not optimization.
2) Get started! The number one most important element in creating anything is to actually create it.
3) Always believe in your own abilities to get it done.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
4) Don’t ever do anything that would compromise your integrity.
5) Don’t wait for the perfect idea. Get going and keep moving!
Imagination can’t be forced, the mind needs downtime to spark innovative thought. Turning inward for that inspiration is called a brain blink. Alison suggests finding the time to allow for this process amidst a whirlwind of tasks. Here are some pieces of her advice for creating a culture of creativity:
1) Bring y0ur whole self to work every day, and have faith in your unique perspective and abilities to solve problems.
2) Use the whiteboard wall. The mind is a horrible place for thinking, so get your ideas out there!
3) Diversify your team. With different backgrounds comes varying ways to approach a problem.
You’re sitting there flipping between your to-do list and your Facebook feed. Can’t…seem…to…start…(sigh). Sujan offers these tips to get moving again:
1) Go for a run, lift weights, or do some yoga to get the blood pumping and endorphins moving through your system.
2) Create an inspiration file of things that get you thinking in a new way. When you run out of juice, just open the file to kickstart your process.
3) You might have to hit the reset button and move in an entirely new direction. (Warning: this is a last resort. Try the other advice first.)
Creativity can be expressed in endless ways, from directing the greatest science-fiction film to finding a more efficient design for a bit of software code. When we get into a rut or confine ourselves to a particular outcome, creativity cannot be accessed. But when we give ourselves enough space and time, we can pull drops of inspiration from the infinite river of ideas that is always flowing around us.