Extracting Creative Juice

creative juiceA fine artist I am a fan of recently tweeted the following:

Just heard stress described as when a demand for change or adaptation is upon us and we lack the creative energy needed 2 rise 2 the demand. (@MetalwingDotCom)

It got me to thinking about whether this applied to the recent stressors in my life and I concluded that the tweet was poignant. Things that cause me stress generally require a high-level of creative energy or motivation and the idea of stepping up and tackling the obstacle is daunting.

A large majority of people can get by on a daily basis by going through the motions. For me, a regular work day doesn’t require adaptions or change. Somtimes I have meetings where I use a significant amount of brain power, but for the most part, I’m comfortable with what’s expected from me and confident in delivering what’s required. Great.

Conversely, there are days when I need to operate at a much higher level. Maybe I’m directing a video shoot, or pitching a VP on a change I’d like to implement to the web on a global scale. Presenting ideas to executives and getting optimal on-camera performances out of strangers is something slightly uncomfortable for me. These things require me to adapt and spend a lot of creative energy. I would like to have more of these days and less passive just-to-get-by days. The challenge is keeping the creative energy tank full.

Feeling empowered to make an impact means achieving sustained motivation and energized creativity. I have found there are things that I can do to help me conjure the feeling:

1- Exercising

A solid sweat from a run or getting your blood flowing by doing some weight training is a pretty surefire way to get your brain working optimally. Couple these with fueling your body properly and you’ve got a pretty solid formula for readiness. I’m mentally acute after playing hockey as well. Hockey is a game that demands quickness, strength and decision-making. All things that translate well into other aspects of life. I realize not everybody out there can skate (unfortunately) so choose your own poison.

2- Putting Things into Perspective

My dad died in 2008–when I was 26. I’m sure it sounds cliche, the one positive I took away from his death was the idea of living in the moment and embracing the idea of having one life to live. When I think about him and his life I get a feeling in my bones that’s difficult to put into words. I feel exhilarated. I feel a physical wave of positive energy run through my body. I feel in touch with the moment and happy to be alive and have influence on the world.

When you consider that a human life is finite, it makes the obstacles and things you need to do to improve your life seem very achievable. Thinking about my family is another way to lock things into perspective. I want to be the best and most successful person I can be for my wife and my child. My desire for the success of my entire family outweighs anything that would keep me from confronting challenges. Thinking of the people you’re living for and the people you want to make proud can help boost your energy.

3- Reading

I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but what I’ve found is that there are lots of very, very smart people out there and some of them are kind enough to share their thoughts about business and life. In 2011 I finally set up an RSS reader that collects news articles and blog posts from web sites filled with thought-provoking and insightful information that facilitates learning, personal growth and inspiration.  I’m not talking about cheesy quotes and motivational what-have-yous. I’m talking about concrete methods on improving my professional skills and personal habits. Knowledge is power.

4- Music

This one almost goes without explanation and I imagine most people can relate to this. I use music to motivate me when I work out. I listen to music while I work. Music can affect you in different ways at different times. My favorite time to feel inspiration from music is driving through the city at night. It could be that the city feels like the appropriate environment for hip-hop music or it could be that I also feel energized by cities filled with activity. Regardless of your preference, the messages in good music can be a source of motivation.

If you have any things you do to get in the zone and perform at your best? Let me know.

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