To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas. There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”
If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading. Reading can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.
I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management. Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective. Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.
Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:
- HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
- Leading Change, by John Kotter
- Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
- Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
- The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes
Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration. Here are some of my favorites.
- Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
- The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
- The Decameron, Giovanni Boccacio
- A Separate Peace, John Knowles
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
- 1984, George Orwell
- Animal Farm, George Orwell
- Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
What are some of your favorite novels? I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.
It is easy to get lost in the grind of our day to day to professional and personal lives. As we grind it out, it easy to lose site of how much progress we’ve made. This week we spent three days as a leadership team working on our budget initiatives for 2018. It was an invigorating, discussing spurring event that was really productive.
This was my fourth year attending and my third year presenting. The first year I presented, it wasn’t pretty. They beat me up pretty good. Thankfully, each year has gone progressively better than the last year. This year I presented on two days to a much larger audience than I’d been accustomed to, but it went very well. As I look back on my previous budget experiences and compare to this year’s presentation, I can see how far I have come.
While I’ve made some great progress towards my professional goals, my fitlife goals too a backseat to Twizzlers, Snickers, and catered meals. When I got home tonight and my treadmill and TRX were glaring at me. I went for a quick run on the treadmill before dinner.
My treadmill and I got reacquainted before a great dinner with friends. My TRX, however, is looking a little neglected. Tomorrow I will be getting back on the wagon eating right. There are times that we deviate from our health goals and that’s gonna happen. We can’t let it derail us completely. There is no quick way to success be it professional or personal. There is no elevator to take us to the top floor only hard work and persistence.
Wisdom Wednesdays are back and today our quote comes from famous 19th century, Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen. Two hundred years later, his words have not lost their veracity. As you go about your Wednesday, remember our actions will always speak louder than our words.
It’s my first Friday back at work since heading overseas on vacation. Wishing everyone a wonderfully productive Friday followed by a carefree and fun weekend!
As a coffee fiend, I have to have my daily Dunkin. After two weeks away from work, I went back for my first day dunkin in hand. My morning cup of Dunkin was a welcome change from the extremely expensive lattes we were drinking in Norway. I don’t know what it says about my coffee habit. However, my Dunkin crew was relieved to see me back at the store. Since I hadn’t been in the store for over two weeks, they became worried about me. I’m definitely a coffee over tea girl and I run on it. Thank god for coffee otherwise I would have probably fallen asleep by 9:00 am courtesy of jet lag.
As we get older, leave college, get a job, get married, etc, we quickly settle into our routine. When life happens it is easy to lose our creativity. We become so busy that the creative outlets of our your get pushed aside. Here’s the problem with all of that. Our creative outlets be it writing, photography, painting or singing not only relieve stress, but they stoke the creative fire of our minds. Even creative outlets, like painting for me, that are sources of painful reminders of art class failures can stoke that creative fire while healing the soul.
When we let our creative self go dormant, our thinking becomes constrained. We get stuck in the rut of life and the rat race. The issues is you don’t know what has been lost until it has been rediscovered. As a matter of dealing with grief, I started this blog and began writing again. The consequence is the way I think and approach the world is changing. It is broadening with my creative outlets and I’m finding myself thinking more creatively and productively about the challenges I face at work or home.
Note about the pictures: I picked the pictures of Jake for this post because of the creative composition of both poses. I took the the featured image was on Mt. Ulricken in Bergen during this trip. Jake’s best friend took the photo on the stairs in Venice. The painting was my second attempt at paint and sip with Debbie and family. I redid the Eifle Tower about 80 times, but it still looks like a rocket ship. I took the last photo while on the boat in Flam.
What is it about human nature that when something newer comes along, we tend to abandon our older toys or belongings in favor of the newer, shinier toy? It would be okay if this was limited to inanimate objects, but this behavior is most egregiously displayed between people. Sophocles paints a much more eloquent picture of this phenomenon in his play Women of Trachis writing “the eyes of men love to pluck the blossoms, from the faded flowers they turn away.” How is that we’re so quick to turn on those that have been loyal in favor of people that are new to our lives or our organization? And does it have to be this way?
The obvious, but not so easy answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we learned anything from the movie Toy Story, and I think we all did, it is that the new and old can co-exist peacefully and productively. When a new person comes into our organization or lives, we want them to feel integrated and a part of the team. In hiring a new person, it is important to hire someone that can integrate into your team as this will alleviate many potential problems.
In the corporate world, solving this issue comes down to leadership. Leaders can integrate new members into the team making them feel important without neglecting or negating the accomplishments of existing team members. One easy to do this is by highlighting the special skillsets and expertise each team member brings to the table and while clearly defining each party’s role in the organization. This will help ensure new team members can integrate into the team without causing existing team members to think their being replaced.
In our personal lives, the onus is on us to make sure we do not neglect our friendships. Life gets busy and relationships evolve, but we can always make time to nurture our friendships be it a call, a text, a Facebook message just to say hi. There may be finite room in your house to store stuff, but there is no cap on many people we can have in our lives.
One of my favorite songs growing up was the Scorpions Winds of Change, this power ballad by a rock band best known for heavy rock anthems became the soundtrack for the end of the Cold War and the reunification of East and West Germany. The song is inextricably linked to that seismic shift in our world, but I think of it often when a major change is coming down the pike. After all, the only constant in life is constant change.
Change is tough, even when it is a change for the better. In order to be effective at change management, you need to embrace that change is inevitable and change is good. One of the things that is toughest about change is that you cannot control it. You can, however, control your reaction to change. I love the Thomas Monson quote of controlling the wind. You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
Ultimately, if the winds change course and you refuse to adjust your sails, you will be blown off your course. If, however, you adjust your sails to the changes in winds, you can maintain your course. Be flexible in your path and understand that change and obstacles are a part of the journey. Focus on your end game, set sail, adjust your sails when needed and you will find success.
This Monday morning is a bit rough.
In the office for one day, out for the July 4th holiday and back in the office for a short week of fun.
While it is easy to celebrate that the end of our work week in near, bring focus to today’s work and strive to be your best as the weekend draws closer.