Why “No” Is Extremely Creative


“Saying ‘no’ has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.” – Kevin Ashton

Battleship Creativity

This past week I was having a conversation with some of my creative coworkers, Amy and Michael. They were having a conversation about what it’s like to narrow down a point of a talk we have to support creatively.

There’s two ways you can face a system like this. You can complain that you never know what you have to support till the last minute OR you can take action. As Michael was explaining what we can do (the second option) I said, it’s like playing Battleship!

Sometimes you have to zero in on your creative content. You know it’s out there in the big, blue expanse of your mind (or someone else’s). Sometimes you just need to start shooting. Start with small, cheap ammunition. Ideas, questions, examples, that way you don’t waste the good stuff. Once you hear that ping of contact, start unloading the big stuff. That’s when you start developing, prototyping, getting others opinions.

When you have the opportunity to help support others ideas, make sure you do the work to understand exactly where they are. Play a little game of Battleship Creativity.

Change Someone’s World Today

Isn’t it crazy what believing in someone can do? Sometimes I wonder why we don’t believe in people more, why we don’t give them the opportunity to succeed. I really think it’s because we’ve been treated the same way. We haven’t been believed in. BUT, what if we decided to encourage one person today? What could start because of that?

Here’s a few simple ideas on how to encourage someone today,

1) Write them a card. We often forget the impact of sitting down and taking a couple minutes to write a card to someone. Yeah, text is nice, email is quick, but an analog card is something a little more tangible. A little more thought went into it.

2) Get creative with a drink. Does that person you want to encourage love coffee? Get them a drink and leave a little note on it. Short, simple, tasty.

3) Publicly praise them in front of peers. I firmly believe nothing is more powerful and empowering then being recognized, for a specific task, in front of peers. If you keep it to general you run the risk of patronizing the person. If you clearly communicate what they did great at, you’ve empowered them to do it again!

Whose world will you change today?

1 Idea, Infinite Variations

Ever think you are stuck in a rut creatively? Feel like you are boxed in with what you can or are able to do? Then watch this…

(You’ll want to watch the whole thing)

This is just one song with a lot of creative approaches to it. What’s that one thing you are tired of doing but have to keep doing? Pick that thing up, turn it around, ask some questions. How would someone else do this? What’s something unique about it that I haven’t capitalized on? Shake things up a little bit and see what you find.

It won’t work every time but that one time it does, it will be awesome.

(HT: Carlos)

Seek Understanding

On Monday I tweeted out and posted this question on my Facebook page. I was doing some thinking about conversations that I was in and how sometimes I try to make sure my point is made. I’m finding that’s not always the best route to go. Check out my thought below.

It generated a couple interesting comments and lots of “Likes”. So it got me thinking, if people agree about this why doesn’t it happen more? So I thought I’d share three ways that I try to seek understanding in hopes that it might be useful for you too.

1) Ask Questions – This probably seems pretty obvious but it’s the most unused way of seeking understanding. It’s always easy to respond in a conversation with what you think. It’s not as easy, and somewhat humbling, to ask a question. Ask what they meant. Ask them why they think that. The best part of asking questions is that it means we are (should be) listening.

2) Put Yourself in their Shoes – Most times in arguments/debates we are only thinking about our context. “How will the conversation effect me?” I have had some of the biggest ah-ha moments when I’ve taken a second to think about their context. Or, the problem they are dealing with. Sometimes it can be as simple as someone having a bad day and it comes out in your in conversation. Disarm this possibility by asking questions about them at the beginning of the conversation.

3) Work Towards The Same Goal –  Often times we are representing our point in a conversation. What we think is right. There is an aspect of conversation where it’s important to get that out. But then we get to a point where it becomes personal. That’s when we need to shift our focus. Once we reach that point we should be making sure both sides are working towards the same goal. It saves a lot of time, energy, and emotional baggage. If you feel a conversation is going the wrong way bring everyone back around to the same goal with a simple reminder of what the discussion should be working towards.

There are a couple ways that I try to use when having a conversation. Try to remember to shift the focus from you and think through the lens of the person you are working with. 

WCA Global Leadership Summit – Day 2

Coming at you a few days after the Leadership Summit has ended are my takeaways on day two! The second day was just a challenging as the first. I was certainly tired at the end of the day but filled up by what the speakers had to say. I’m just going to give you two takeaways I had from day 2 but if you’d like more of a comprehensive overview check  Justin Wise’s Blog, the LeadershipFreak Blog, or Scott Williams Blog. You can check out my day one recap here. 

The first takeaway I had was from Patrick Lencioni. You have probably heard of him, but if not just google him and buy one of his books. Anyone will do, they are all great. He was talking about organizational health and how it’s the trump factor in what makes one business more successful then another.

One of the main themes of organizational health is clarity. It’s extremely important to be clear on job roles, core purpose, core values, strategy, and what’s most important right now. After you do that, you need to over communicate that clarity. Then you need to reinforce that clarity.

My challenge for myself is to evaluate the areas I may be under clarifying things. Once I have those figured out I need to over communciate that to make sure me and those around me are all aligned on the same page.

The second takeaway was from Mario Vega. He gave a great talk (in Spanish) on integrity. Very challenging. This quote in particular stuck out to me.

When a person engages in dishonest living they reveal their lack of character.

My challenge for myself? I need to make sure I build in people around me to let me know if I’m living and leading out of integrity. I also need to do some honest self check-ups on the condition of my heart and motives out of which I act.

There are a couple of my takeaways & action steps, how about you? What have you been learning lately? 

(Photo Props)

WCA Global Leadership Summit – Day 1

Yesterday I attended the first day of the Global Leadership Summit. It was a great and challenging day. I was blown away by the openness and humility of the leaders that shared on that stage. I thought about doing a recap post on the highlights from each session but here are so many other great bloggers who’ve done that way better than me. So if you are wanting more of a recap of what someone said check out Justin Wise’s Blog, the LeadershipFreak Blog, or Scott Williams Blog.

What I’d really love to share with you today are the two takeaways that I hope to turn into action steps from day one.

Bill Hybels had so many great things he taught on in 4 or 5 mini “teachings”. The lesson that hit home most was the lesson on Self-Leadership. He started it off by saying, “You are the most difficult person you will ever lead.” You know what…I agree with that.

Bill talked about a 6×6 strategy he uses to focus his energy on the right projects. He’ll take 6 projects and focus just on them to get them done in 6 weeks. He said he’s had tremendous results from it. But, at the core of this is where I’d like to create an action step.

Bill said that leaders aren’t called to respond, they are called to move things ahead. That right there is my first challenge/takeaway. As a leader, what am I moving ahead? At work? In my relationships? In my marriage? My next step is to determine things to move ahead in those areas.

The second takeaway came from Craig Groeschel. He talked on bridging the generational gap. It was challenging and inspiring.

He challenged my generation on two things. Don’t have an entitled mindset (because we do) and show honor to those before us.

The action step for me in this is to be actively seeking out ways for me to honor those who went before me. That includes my grandparents and parents, current and past leaders, and really anyone who has significantly impacted my life.

Those are two challenges I’m taking away from day 1 and super excited for what I’ll learn today! Feel free to follow along on Twitter for thoughts from the conference.

(Photo Props)

What Are You Doing?

Well hello! It’s been a while that I’ve been able to push some content out here on the blog. But that’s yesterday, today is a new day. And this is a new post!

A couple weeks ago I came across this tweet in my Twitter feed from a friend Tim Schraeder. Tim usually has quality tweet material and this tweet is no different.


This tweet pretty much sums up the past few months of my life. I’ve been in a cycle of adding more (or getting more added) to my plate on a weekly basis. Which is pretty cool because I’ve been learning a lot! The other side of that coin though is that my attention starts to get pulled in different ways. Many different ways. Then all of the sudden I’m finding that I can’t do EVERYTHING well anymore.

So what are the options? Two things come to mind. One, I can keep control of everything and keep trying to do it my way and the way I think is right. The problem with this is eventually the quality of these “tasks” will start to drop drastically. I can’t do it all.

The other option? Give it away…Not like pass the responsibility off give it away, but empower, train, and equip someone to do the job who can do it, and hopefully do it better than me!

This can be a very foreign concept to Type A, controlling personalities; but it’s the only viable, sustainable option. If I’m leading well, I need to be training others to do the work. Like Tim quoted in the tweet above, my job is turning more into a role of making sure the work gets done, not necessarily doing it all.

One last thought. Some people can view this as the easy route. Thinking, “You are just telling people what to do.” And it probably might look like that from the outside. But I’m learning it’s harder (and just as much work) to lead and influence people to do a task then it is just to do it yourself.

So the question I leave you with today. What are you doing to empower others to do the work? What opportunity is someone missing out on because YOU are doing it? 

(Photo Props)

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