When was the last time you purposefully pruned your life (and project list) so that you had the time, focus and energy you needed for your most important work? Doing this on a regular basis is difficult, because each pruned idea and project feels like you’re abandoning a child, but this kind of ruthless dedication to energy management is what’s required in order to sustain over the long-term. On today's episode we share four quick questions to help evaluate a project for potential prune-ability.
Discipline is sometimes perceived as a “dirty word” because it’s interpreted as pushing through the muck, doing the unenjoyable activities first, and forgoing the chocolate cake for the steamed broccoli. However, I think this is a gross misunderstanding of the word. Discipline simply means making an agreement with yourself, and keeping it. On this episode, we share three reasons why creative pros often struggle with discipline, and what to do about it.
Lynda Barry once said "The key to eternal happiness is low overhead and no debt.” (h/t Austin Kleon) However, this doesn't just mean financial overhead. There are other kinds of overhead that we accumulate that can suffocate our abilty to do the creative work we're capable of. On this episode, we share three areas where we can accumulate overhead and a few challenges for streamlining and similifying.
What’s the greatest barrier to brilliant work? Is it fear? Lack of time or resources? Confusion? All of these contribute to one degree or another. I’ve written a ton about each of them, (including a full chapter in The Accidental Creative.) However, there’s one word that I think better stands as the bastion of mediocrity in many workplaces: adequacy. On this episode we discuss a few causes of the normalization of adequacy in the workplace and how to counter them.
A culture of blame can erode trust and cause creative teams to do sub-par work. It can easily infiltrate your organization and client interactions and begin to eat away at your ability to produce great work. On this episode we share four signs that a culture of blame is beginning to affect you and your team, and some practical things you can do to prevent it.
Self-awareness is a valuable asset if you want to lead well, create effectively, and live a good life. However, many people move through life reactively without a clear framework for how they're wired and what truly drives them. On this episode, Ian Morgan Cron shares insights from his book The Road Back To You, gives an overview of how the Enneagram framework can help you identify what drives you, and offers tips for applying that self-knowledge to life and work.
If you solve problems for a living (which most of us do), then ideas are critical to your effectiveness. But how do you increase the odds that you'll have the right idea just when you need it? On this episode, Allen Gannet will help us better understand the dynamics of creating under pressure with insights from his new book The Creative Curve.
Are you comparing your in-process work with the absolute best thing ever created in your industry? How about this one... have you ever had a manager express disappointment that you only over-delivered a little instead of a lot? If so, you might be experiencing something called Expectation Escalation, and it is probably preventing you from taking risks, experimenting, and iterating your way toward brilliance. On this episode, we discuss how it affects you and what to do about it.
Have you ever had a sense that things just aren't adding up? Your brain is sending a signal that there's a gap between what you're doing and why you think you're doing it. That's a dynamic I call dissonance, and it can quickly rob you of your ability to engage fully and freely in your creative work. On this episode, we dive into a few of its sources and how they affect you.
When you think of the word "coach", what image comes to mind? Someone standing on the sideline barking orders at everyone? The master strategist standing in an empty room with a whiteboard full of plans? How about this one: the great listener? On today's show, Michael Bungay Stanier returns to share additional insights from his international smash hit book The Coaching Habit. We talk about misunderstandings people often have about coaching, and how we can coach our peers and even our managers to help them unleash their best work every day.
Over time, this pressure to produce every day can cause us to fossilize around bad habits. We get into a rhythm – the bad kind – that causes us to move mindlessly through our days without much thought for our process. On this episode we share five places where you might be experiencing “fossilization”, and some remedies for dealing with them.
Is passion important? Surely. Is it the most important factor in doing great work? I have my doubts. Some of the most effective contributors throughout time have been marked by two characteristics: they were (a) reluctant, but (b) resolved. They saw the great task before them, but they were determined to surmount obstacles because they recognized an opportunity and felt the urgency of the moment. Do not be dulled, friends. Do not allow the lull of comfort to cause you to abdicate your contribution. Stay sharp. Keep your edges. Nothing – NOTHING – is worth giving up the most precious thing you have to offer.
A time chunk is simply a dedicated amount of time, an hour or two if possible, to immerse yourself in the important, but not urgent work on your plate. Rather than relying on the non-time-committal nature of a task list, time chunks ensure that you will spend a certain amount of focused effort making progress each week. You know that interruptions or other distractions won’t get in the way, because you’ve built a bulwark against them.
On this episode, we share 6 simple rules for establishing (and keeping) time chunks on your calendar so that you make progress on your critical creative work.
In many ways, the quality of your work is defined by the questions you ask. Those who ask the best questions ultimately get closest to the heart of the situation, and in many cases ultimately win. However, you are also defined by the questions that you choose to avoid. If you run away from important questions because they're uncomfortable to address, then you might compromise your body of work and never fully achieve your potential.
No matter how talented and driven you are, sooner or later you're bound to feel stuck. When you'e at a standstill, the worst thing you can do is to keep staring at the problem and digging yourself deeper into a rut. On this episode, Todd Henry shares 25 simple, but effective questions to help you get out of your creative rut and get moving on your work.
If you want to accomplish much of anything, you need to focus. You have a finite amount of attention to allocate to problems that matter. However, many creative pros struggle with questions about what they should focus on, when they should focus on it, and whether the thing they're doing is even the right thing. On this episode, Todd Henry shares three questions you can ask each week to help you allocate your finite attention in the best places, and get more of the right things done.
Do you have a framework for making larger decisions about your life, your career, and your work? How do you decide what you're trying to do with your life? In this episode, I address a question from a listener about how to make decisions about the larger questions of life and career.
When you hear the story of the founding of a business, you often get the sanitized version. You only hear the high points. However, it's often in failure that the biggest lessons are learned. Today's guest Kristen Hadeed founded Student Maid several years ago, but the early days weren't always so smooth. She's just published a book called Permission To Screw Up in which she chronicles some of the lessons learned as an entrepreneur and a boss, and on today's show she shares some of the hightlights.
You're a pro. You do the work even when you don't feel like it. Still, you can't discount the value of inspiration. Without it, your work might begin to ring hollow. How do you protect the fire so that you can stay engaged and motivated to do your best work? That's the question Scott Mautz is here to answer with tips from his new book Find The Fire.
You have an idea inside of you that could change the very world around you. And, many people allow those ideas to die on the vine because they lack the courage to take the first step, or the community around them to support their efforts. Today's guest, Nilofer Merchant, has just released a book called The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Ideas Mighty Enough To Dent The World, and she shares stories of people who have taken their idea from hunch to impact and changed the world in the process.