Think creativity is just play-time fluff? Think again.
In a survey of 1,500 executives conducted by IBM in 2010, creativity was cited as the single most important factor for future success due to the ever increasing complexity of an increasingly interconnected world. From the C-Suite down to the factory line or the reception desk, every member of an organization needs to be tapped into their innate creative abilities.
People who exercise their creative abilities and potential at work typically like their job. The constant engagement and challenge provides a kind of freedom that creative types absolutely need.
But, we know that more than half of all workers don’t like their jobs. A lot of factors contribute to this, but in another survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management in 2011, only 42% of workers said that creativity and innovation were rewarded.
Hmm. Seems like there is a disconnect here. On one hand leaders say that creativity is the most important factor in achieving success. But, it seems leaders aren’t rewarding creativity. No wonder so many people would trade their current job for a new one.
“Creativity is not a fixed quantity, but rather a renewable resource that can be improved and nurtured by optimizing the environment that allows an individual’s creative potential to blossom.” From Inspiring a Generation to Create, Center for Childhood Creativity.
Let’s face it, the workplace has changed and it hasn’t. It has changed in that more and more organizations are employing part-timers, contract workers and freelancers while phasing out full-time jobs. It’s tough to implement part-time creativity (unless one is hired for a specific creative task like a designer or writer). The workplace has not changed in that most successful businesses rely upon tried and true systems to get the job done.
Tried and true systems don’t rely on creative thought or action. They simply need execution.
So, what is a worker to do?
Creative expression is a basic component of living a fulfilling, authentic life that you love to live. Most people desperately want to employ their creative abilities on the job. Evidently less than half of workers really are encouraged to do this. For the half that feel like zombies stuck in a rut walking on a treadmill, here are three choices you may want to consider:
Innovate as best as you can. While organizations depend upon reliable systems, just about every business is focused on performance. Can you find ways to make the system more efficient? Is there a way to tweak what you’re doing in order to make it more enjoyable while improving performance? Innovate if you can. If you’re not in a position that gives you much opportunity, consider the 2nd choice.
Design your own gig. Most of us can’t just quit if we’re not happy in our job. We have bills to pay, after all. But, according to a report done by University of Phoenix in 2014, 40% of workers want to start a business. If you aren’t happy where you are, consider designing your own gig. Every skill on the market can be freelanced. And there are thousands of service-oriented businesses that can be entered. Focus on something you want to do and then find people who need what you want to do. Simple concept, not necessarily easy. However, most people I know have something on the side. If your side gig finds some traction and a market, who knows, maybe your gig will become your main source of income and satisfaction.
Fulfill creative expression outside the workplace. There are a lot of actors and artists that sling coffee and wait on tables. Conversely, I know high level executives who turn financial deals during the day, but pick up a paintbrush at night and on the weekends. Remember Richard Gere in the movie Shall We Dance? He was a corporate attorney whose train passed by a dance studio on his commute home. One night he got a shot of courage and got off the train. He began dancing in secret. Every day on that train the tension within him grew – something was missing. He didn’t want to leave his well-paying day job – he just wanted to dance. His life became richer and more fulfilling – especially so after his wife discovered his secret passion.
So…what’s your art? If you don’t care about income and just want to give freedom to your creative voice, what are you waiting for? Get off the train!