Tag Archives: Creativity

Find Your Focus with Printable Coloring Pages

Do The Work

Are you looking for a way to relax and refocus?  To be more mindful?  To fan your creative spark?

Here’s a crazy idea… coloring.

Yep, like we did when we were kids.  It’s super easy and surprisingly satisfying.

Curious to try?

I’ve created a PDF of 3 coloring pages that I will be including in my new Productivity Journal.  I’d love for you to try them and let me know what you think.

Click here to download:  The Management Maven Coloring Pages

Happy coloring!

 

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The why behind my August break.

reflection #augustbreak2014

Bay Ocean Spit, OR

This month, I’m sharing a photo each day as part of The August Break, 2014.  Today’s prompt is “Reflection“, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts around this challenge.

First and foremost, I’d just like to take more interesting photos.  I’ve always appreciated good photography but I’ve never invested much energy into learning how to do it myself.  No time like the present, right?

I’m also always looking to give myself a creative boost and focusing on images instead of words seems a good way to engage my brain in a new way.  And I like the structure of a daily prompt that forces me to look at the world with a more specific eye.

This has already been a super busy summer and it isn’t slowing down this month.  A beach trip with the New York family is just around the corner, which means lots of fun but limited writing time.  (Confession ~ I actually took the photo above on our beach trip last summer but I just love the way the herons are reflected in the water, don’t you?)

And finally, if I’m being honest, I am also super distracted because my son is starting preschool in 3 weeks.  Okay, it’s only 2 days per week, for 4 hours, but…my BABY…(sob) …in PRESCHOOL…(sob)…ALONE…(sob)   So I think I’ll be using my writing practice to work through all of THAT offline.  You’re welcome.

 

theaugustbreak_peach

 

How about you?  Have you participated in a blogging or other creative challenge?  I’d love to hear about your experience.

 

Let’s get creative.

Paint brushes by Futurilla

I think a lot about creativity – where it comes from, how to use it – because I’ve found that it’s all too easy to get stuck in a mental rut, particularly when it comes to our jobs.

Doing things the same way you’ve always done them isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But it is limiting.  And kinda boring.

So here are a few prompts to get you thinking creatively about management challenges.  I urge you to spend some time letting your mind play with these ideas.

Change your perspective.  Use your imagination.  See what happens.


Size matters.

What if…your organization doubled its current square footage? (office space, manufacturing floor, whatever)  What do you do with the space?

Now cut your current space in half.  How do you adapt?


Find your superheroes.

What if…one person in your organization has a new product idea that will revolutionize your industry?  But you don’t know who they are.  And they don’t know what they have.

How do you find this person and capitalize on their idea?


“And the Oscar goes to…”

What if…your organization receives a prestigious industry award for excellence and you’re asked to represent your organization at the award ceremony.

Who do you thank in your acceptance speech?  Why?


Observe and report.

What if…you were a consultant (secret agent, space alien) visiting your organization for the first time.  It’s an average workday and you’re free to observe and interact with the staff.

What do you see?  How do you explain your findings to the people who sent you?


 

Need a creative jump start?  I love these books from Keri Smith:

          

 

(Photo by Futurilla via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

 

Opening the door to creative possibilities.

yes and no by abhi

I’m always intrigued when I find the same idea popping up in two totally different contexts.  It makes me think the universe is saying,  Hey.  Seriously.  Think about this.

This happened to me with the phrase “Yes, and…”.

The concept comes from improvisational theater and the rule is, when asked a question or given a suggestion, you must reply with “Yes, and…”.

I read the idea first in Parents magazine as a means of playing more creatively with your kids, and then found the concept again in Dan Pink‘s book on sales, To Sell is Human.

Here’s the thing:

Using ” Yes, and…” opens the door to creative possibilities. 

It forces you to use your imagination and encourages participation.

And it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

In trying to incorporate this idea into my own life, it has made me aware of how often I use the phrase “Yes, but…”.

Where “Yes, and…” opens the door, responding with “Yes, but…” closes it.  It negates what the other person said and effectively shuts down the conversation.

Consider this:

A team member comes to you with an interesting but unexpected professional development opportunity.  How do you respond?

Yes, but it’s not in the budget.”
or
Yes, and we can review the budget to see if there are any extra funds available.”

See the difference??

Try using “Yes, and…” and observe how your personal and professional interactions can be enhanced simply by your choice of phrase.

 

Originally posted July 1, 2013

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

(Photo by *_Abhi_* via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Have you found your voice?

Singing to the Sunrise by Don McCullough

If you are a writer, blogger or creative of just about any sort, you’ve probably thought a lot about your “voice”.  You’ve worked hard to develop a unique style that expresses how you see the world.  You’ve figured out how to tell your story, as only you can tell it.

If you’re a manager, or aspiring to be one, you may not be as comfortable with this idea.  You’re not an “artist”.  You’re focused on organizing, planning, measuring performance.  Not on finding your “voice”, right?

But here’s why your voice matters:  It’s how we share our worldview.  How we reach people and connect them to our passion and our mission.  Our voice is why people follow us, even as situations change.  Because our worldview resonates with them.  And that’s a valuable component of leadership, isn’t it?

The connection between voice and worldview clicked for me as I read Jeff Goins on creating value as a writer.  Here’s how Goins describes a worldview:

“A paradigm.  A perspective.  A code of ethics.  It’s how we live our lives, whether we recognize it or not.  This is what sets a person’s voice apart from the rest of the noise vying for our attention: not what they say, but how they say it.”

Let me share some elements of my worldview that influence my voice as a manager:

  • Job satisfaction stems from meeting the basic human need for autonomy, purpose and growth.
  • Our environment matters.  The quality and character of our workspaces impact how we do our jobs
  • Systems need creativity to avoid becoming stagnate and stifling.  Creativity needs systems and structure in order to have a meaningful impact.

Now think about your own career.  What links all your different positions together?  All your assorted tasks?  All the decisions you make?  Your unique background and experiences have given you a unique worldview.  Your voice is how you share it.

 

(Photo by Don McCullough via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Has your routine become a rut?

Carousel by Dominic Alves

Today I went out to lunch.

With my 2 year old.

For no reason.

It wasn’t a special occasion.  I wasn’t meeting a friend to “catch up”.  I just decided to stop at a restaurant before finishing our errands.  This may not sound that outlandish to some, but for me, it was something of a first.  See, I’m a person of routines.  I like my schedules.  I like having a plan.  And with a kid, this has served me well.  He and I know what to expect of each other.

And it works from a professional perspective, too.  I believe consistent work habits are crucial to accomplishing large tasks.  And a set routine frees one’s mind for important decisions and complex problem solving.

But being efficient only matters if you’re accomplishing something worthwhile.  Something meaningful.  Routines and habits are only half the battle.  You also need inspiration.

You need to mix it up.

Try something new.

Do things that remind you that life isn’t just a series of tasks to be checked off a list.

 

(Photo by Dominic Alves via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Get in the Mood: Creating a Manager’s Inspiration Board

radiant quote 2

I’ve always loved inspiration boards.  As a teenager, I covered my bedroom walls with layers of Benetton ads and poignant hair-band lyrics.  (Just like every night has its dawn…every rose has its thorn.)

These days, my inspirations have changed but I still like to look up from a tough problem, or lean back after a difficult call, and see the things that inspire me…as a manager, as a writer and as a mom.

Ann Friedman suggests that our teenage bedroom and locker decorating has evolved into the current popularity of Pinterest and Tumblr.  And while I like those mediums, I’m inherently more tactile.  And lazy.  I need my inspirations to be accessible without requiring the foresight to open my web browser.  So I recommend having the things that inspire you as a manager on an actual board (or cube wall or clipboard or whatever you’ve got).

With all that in mind, here are some ideas for creating a Manager’s Inspiration Board.

Inspiring or motivational quotes – The one above from John Butler Yeats is a favorite reminder to myself to keep finding new challenges.

Your dream workspace – Designers use mood boards to capture the atmosphere or feeling they want to create in a new space.  You can do this, too, with clippings, fabrics and color swatches.

Elements of your management philosophy – What management truths do you hold to be self-evident?

Your personal, and/or your company’s, mission statement – Ideally, these two things are in harmonious synergy.

Symbols of why your job matters to you – Maybe this is a picture of the people you serve.   Or your smiling team after a productive retreat.   Or your kids.

Ideas to revisit – Include a place to capture all your brilliant, but not really applicable at the moment, ideas.

 

How about you?  What things are on your inspiration board?