Thursday, January 01, 2015

Creation, creativity, and finding you balance

Few people will read to the bottom, because I warn you this will be long. I'll share my perspective on life, revealing the crazy to some and simply annoying others. But I'll do it anyway.

"Do not go gentle into that good night" If you're not familiar with this poem by Dylan Thomas, give it a read. It's about challenging life despite the fact that you know how your story will end. All of our stories end. But the middle, that's what we need to write!

As a company we know where we want to end up; new ideas yielding new products and new business opportunities. But I believe we can't start there. To create is to begin, and those things are endings. So first we must create no matter what it is. But where to begin? I believe it begins with embracing who we are, embracing that there is no 'work Joel" and "outside of work Joel," but only Joel. Over the years I've lost my way at times. I've tried isolating one aspect of my life from another: Compartmentalization. But to embrace yourself, who you are, and how you fit in, is to accept all of you and understand how it is all related. And as you stop fighting the compartmentalization fight, and accepting who you are, and in turn realize that others are drawn to the whole you, not just the "work" you, you become more ready to share your ideas and creativity, things you might not be inclined to share because they are thoughts deep from within, vulnerable and bound as much to emotion as to intellect. 

My defining characteristic is not intelligence. It is endurance, and it is stubborness which I guess is much the same thing. Ultra distance events are as much a pig-headed refusal to stop despite the obvious indications you should, as they are a demonstration of some physical prowess. I used to be very creative, but that has waned some over the years. I'm hopeful it can return, but for now I can witness my daughter's endless vision. Indeed it is that which has prompted me to write this novella!

Creativity comes from not going gently, from focusing on the process and creating anything without evaluating its merit before you bring the idea into being. "Standards" and "Proven Practices" are the enemy of creation. They have their place afterwards, but not before or during. 

Are we a technology company or a company that uses technology? Do we do what we do to make money or is money just a biproduct of what inspires us? I love simple, plain, easy to understand visuals which scream the truth.


This is the most basic chart imaginable. Anyone at our company could design this. But it speaks volumes as to the story of my year. I look at it and see not just the story of my running, but the story of my work year.

We want to foster creativity. We need to. Let's begin by throwing the doors wide open. Let's challenge our co-workers to show us who they are outside of work using the tools we use at work. No winners of losers. Maybe someone creates a graphic ranking Premier League soccer players. Or Cricket. Maybe a map with marker points sitting on all the conferences they've attended, or bars they've visited! Or a chart showing the number of words typed in any sort of essay, over time. Or a word document, an essay, because we are writers and teachers as well, not just technologists.

You're right. This is extra to your normal work day, but if you've gotten this far do you see the point? Once you've embraced yourself and your life, when does the day end?

Throw the spaghetti. Take a chance. Release the crazy! Nothing out of bounds if it truly reveals who you are. We'll get to the ultimate goal of creating something great, challenging the status quo, if we can first embrace full selves and "rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Warm regards and a Happy New Year,

Joel