Fair warning…I’m an addict. Did a hit as I rolled off to sleep. And another seconds after opening my eyes.
Heroine, ice, booze. Not my thing.
Chocolate, crack, X. Nope.
My drug of choice—Creation.
Can’t get it out of my head. Pearl S. Buck wrote:
“The truly creative mind in any field is…[a] delicate organism [with] the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.”
So, I create…everything.
Companies, businesses, books, products, services, images, ads, interiors, brands, paintings, music, websites, speeches, lives and lifestyles. It’s central to what makes me come alive. This is the thing that drops me into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called the “Flow” state. It cultivates within me a sense of effortlessness, absorption, even in the midst of intense work.
It’s my Flow State DNA.
Put me in a setting defined largely by operations, slow-growth, minutiae, day-to-day t-crossing and i-dotting, though, and I melt faster than a fudge-pop on the hood of a ’57 Chevy on an August afternoon in Austin.
Creation fuels me, operations sucks the life out of me.
Not that operations is “bad.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with operations. I know people who love nothing more than to be cooped up all day long, breaking down, refining and implementing operating tasks. I have friends who’d gladly proofread 10 hours a day. It’s like manna from typo heaven.
The world is filled with Checklist Charlies. And, no doubt, any viable venture needs operations freaks as much as it needs creative madmen (or women). Two sides of a coin.
So, challenge number one is to find your Flow State DNA.
Look back into your past and recall the activities, processes, tasks and settings, whether at play or at work that:
- Allowed yo to work toward a clear goal with a well-defined process .
- Cultivated deep-concentration
- Allowed you to lose your sense of self-consciousness
- Created an altered sense of time
- Provided for ongoing, direct feedback
- Was highly-challenging, but doable
- Gave you control over the means, and
- Was deeply meaningful or intrinsically rewarding, by the very nature of doing it
These are the things, big picture and small that make you come alive. For me, it wasn’t so much content based, but rather the opportunity create.
The more present these qualities are in anything you do, the more fulfilling and effortless the adventure. The less present, the more burdenson the journey.
Now, we get to challenge number two:
What do you do when you end up in a scenario that asks or even requires you to work without a single element of flow? That “violates” your Flow State DNA and makes you engage in the very processes that are not only devoid of flow, but outright empty you out?
Being pigeonholed into processes that violates your Flow State DNA sucks.
Avoiding this very scenario is one of the reasons I’ve become an entrepreneur. Because being in charge affords me control over what tasks, activities and processes I keep for myself and what I hand off.
The moment I have the chance, I delegate, partner or outsource those processes. I’ve even gone into the hole financially to be able to pay other people to do them. Because handing off what you hate and are not great at accomplishes two massively important things.
One, it gives you more time to do what you’re really good at, which not only makes you happy, it takes greatest advantage of what you do best. It maximizes your “asset value” within any organization. And, two, it places the things that equate to personal drudgery (a/k/a Flow State DNA violations) in the hands of people who’ll do them waaay better than you.
Of course, there’s one big exception to this.
And, that’s when you’re in “start-up” mode or “financial triage” mode.
There is almost always a phase in every new project, venture, idea where resources are tight and the concept hasn’t proven itself on a level that would justify the cost of bringing in others to do the things that suck for you. Or, as we’re seeing in the economy now, even existing ventures can drop back into this place when dealing with limited resources and a lot of work to be done. And, yes, for a short time, that will mean you may have to do things you’d rather not do.
Know what they are, do them as diligently as possible and work your ass off to get to that place where you’ve got the resources (or the political juice) to hand them over or source them out to people who will do them way better than you.
The bigger message is…know what big picture processes make you come alive.
And, know what processes crush your spirit. Find or create opportunities to build your life, your ventures, your career around the big picture processes that make each day as breathtaking as possible. Build around your Flow State DNA. Then, find people who’s DNA vibe deeply with the other side of your “process” coin and tap them to do what they do best.
As always, just thinking out loud.
What do you think?
What processes make you come alive?
And, which suck the life out of you?
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