Starting your own business is a bold move. Those who’ve taken the leap of the faith know the feeling of wanting to give up all too well. Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coast of highs and lows. At low points, there are too many times where we ask ourselves “What the hell am I doing?”. I have experienced this time and time again with my entrepreneurial journey and I’ve found a few ways to really master stress management. If the feeling of overwhelm feels like it’s too much try these six these to keep your blood pressure down.
2.) Do Anything BUT Work– And don’t think about work either. It’s easier said than done and some may disagree with me, but I’ve found that when I am so overwhelmed with failure, walking away for a short while is the best thing to do. If I continue to work when I’m spiraling down mentally, I make poor business decisions, I become inefficient, and I won’t make the most productive use of my time. Take this time to hang out with friends, catch up with family, and just have fun. The work isn’t going anywhere. It will be waiting right there when you get back. Trust me.
3.) Pray, Meditate, Release– Like the saying goes, “When it Rains it Pours”. Two prospective clients fell through, you keep hearing “no”, you just received bad news in a personal matter—all happening simultaneously. When you start feeling like you are the unluckiest person in the world, chances are you need a mental adjustment to break those negative thought patterns. While we are not in control of everything in our lives, I am a firm believer that we are in control of more than we think (insert any Law of Attraction quote here). When your business has put you under a lot of stress and fills your mind with negativity, you won’t get a positive outcome. I’m not saying to be in denial that you are feeling negative emotions. The key is to let it go. Negativity is inevitable. Embrace the emotion, admit there’s a problem, and move on as quickly as you can. Yell, cry, run five miles – do whatever works for you. Find some sort of (healthy) release and do it.
4.) Be Honest with Yourself– The greatest disservice anyone can do to their own progress is lie to themselves. During this break, take time to clear all the clutter in your head and be completely honest with yourself. I mean brutally honest. When you feel like you’ve done all you can and you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself this question: “Did I REALLY do all I could do to get the results I wanted?” Chances are the answer is – “No”. Most likely you didn’t exhaust all possibilities, you weren’t consistent, and/or you didn’t follow the formula you set for yourself.
5.) Ask for Help– This is the perfect time to get another pair of hands, a fresh new mind, or another perspective in the mix to help you do and see things you are unable to grasp. The Entrepreneurial path can sometimes be a lonely one. Most people will never understand why you chose that path, which leaves you feeling like you have to figure out everything on your own. You’re not alone. Join a mastermind group, get a mentor, hire an intern. Do whatever you can do to take some of the burden off of your shoulders. It will change your life.
6.) Re-strategize– Trial and error (there will be a lot of both) will be the only way to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. If something you’re doing isn’t working, try something else. During your break take time to come up with a new plan. At the very least make some adjustments to your current one, and then put it into action.
Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century British Prime Minister, once said, “Man is only great when he acts from passion.”
For today’s aspiring entrepreneur, exploring avenues of creativity to find your passion is likely the quickest route to increase your chances of launching a successful business. Where to start? Here, with five exercises to help you uncover your passion.
“It’s amazing how disconnected we become to the things that brought us the most joy in favor of what’s practical,” says Rob Levit, an Annapolis, Md.-based creativity expert, speaker and business consultant.
Levit suggests making a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it.
“Research shows that there is much to be discovered in play, even as adults,” Levit says.
Revisit some of the positive activities, foods and events of childhood. Levit suggests asking yourself these questions to get started: What can be translated and added into your life now? How can those past experiences shape your career choices now?
Start by taking a large poster board, put the words “New Business” in the center and create a collage of images, sayings, articles, poems and other inspirations, suggests Michael Michalko, a creativity expert based in Rochester, N.Y., and Naples, Fla., and author of creativity books and tools, including ThinkPak (Ten Speed Press, 2006).
“The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of your intention — who you want to become or what you want to create — your awareness and passion will grow,” Michalko says.
As your board evolves and becomes more focused, you will begin to recognize what is missing and imagine ways to fill the blanks and realize your vision.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Study people who have been successful in the area you want to pursue.
For example, during the recession, many people shied away from the real estate market because they thought it was a dead end. Levit believes that’s the perfect time to jump in — when most others are bailing out — because no matter the business, there are people who are successful in it. Study them, figure out how and why they are able to remain successful when everyone else is folding and then set up structures to emulate them.
“If you want to be creative, create a rigorous and formal plan,” Levit says. “It’s not the plan that is creative; it’s the process that you go through that opens up so many possibilities.”
A lot of people wait until they have an extensive business plan written down, along with angel investors wanting to throw cash at them — and their ideas never see the light of day, according to Cath Duncan, a Calgary, Canada-based creativity expert and life coach who works with entrepreneurs and other professionals.
She recommends doing what you enjoy — even if you haven’t yet figured out how to monetize it. Test what it might be like to work in an area you’re passionate about, build your business network and ask for feedback that will help you develop and refine a business plan.
It’s a way to not only show the value you would bring, but you can also get testimonials that will help launch your business when you’re ready to make it official.
“Perhaps most importantly, though, it’ll shift you out of paralysis and fear,” Cath says, “and the joy of seeing the difference your contribution makes will fuel your creativity.”
While it might feel uncomfortable to step outside of business mode, the mind sometimes needs a rest from such bottom-line thinking, says Levit, who has recently taken up Japanese haiku, a form of poetry. Maybe for you, it will be creative writing, painting, running or even gardening.
After you take a mental vacation indulging in something you’re passionate about, Levit suggests coming back to a journal and writing down any business ideas that come to mind.
“You’ll be amazed at how refreshed your ideas are,” he says. “Looking at beautiful things – art and nature – creates connections that we often neglect to notice. Notice them capture, them in writing and use them.”
Author: Lisa Girard
Many of us have watched DJ Khaled’s “journey of more success” on Snapchat. Every day he walks us through his routine, and drops “major keys” of information on how he achieved success. He’s pretty entertaining, and if you need another reason to follow him Complex compiled his antics here. With that being said, there are some things that factor into DJ Khaled’s Snapchat success that he’s not saying. Even if you’re not a DJ that shamelessly promotes himself, there are still plenty of valuable lessons that any creative entrepreneur can take away:
Snapchat is quickly turning into the go-to social medium (and still growing). Khaled was smart enough to see the potential early on and take advantage of gaining attention without competing with the clutter you’ll find on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. He also used the platform in an innovative way that can’t really be done on other social mediums: he shows the “boring” day-to-day stuff that wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining elsewhere. Before Snapchat, social media was typically used to highlight the interesting things people do, and give a false perception that everyone’s lives were more exciting than they actually were in real life. You won’t see too much bottle poppin’ and groupie love on Khaled’s snapchat. 80% of his snaps are of him eating and watering his plants. Yep. Social media is taking a turn in the right direction, starting with Khaled.
To succeed in anything, repetition is crucial. Khaled pretty much does the same thing every time you watch his snaps. He eats his turkey bacon, egg whites, wheat toast, and drinks water every morning. He waters his plants and talks to “LION!”. Chef D prepares him a lunch that is enough to feed a family of 10, and then he goes jet skiing. In between all of these daily rituals, he gives positive reinforcement and motivation. Doing the same thing every day, at the same time every day turns into a system that is almost fail-proof if you stick to it. In terms of marketing, repetition is vital to getting your message out and building a strong following. He also repeats certain signature phrases over and over that continue to go viral.
“Walk with me on the journey to the path of more success” is the first thing you hear DJ Khaled say before he starts his day. Snapchat is the perfect platform to “tell a story” and he has mastered it. If you’re trying to promote yourself on Snapchat, the best way to use it is to show progression. Any good story has four basic parts: Introduction, Build Up, Climax, and Resolution. If you’re trying to use Snapchat to promote yourself, be sure to give thought to your snap, and try to keep that structure in mind. If you’re randomly snapping selfies, your cat, and your lunch, it will probably only be entertaining to your closest friends.
Khaled does an amazing job of connecting personally with his fans, and letting them into what he’s like outside of his job. If you’re trying to brand yourself, you’ll have a hard time connecting with a potential fan or customer if you’re not letting them in (even if only in a small way) to who you are as a person. Decades ago, creatives could market themselves separately without giving away too much information on their personal lives. Those days are gone. It’s a little nerve racking for introverts who want to keep to themselves, but I actually like that people are not blindly buying into things anymore without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. Customers and fans want to know who they are giving their money to, so if you’re not showing your face every now and then you’re going to have a hard time running a business.
Spreading positivity is not only great for business but more importantly will allow you to sleep better at night. Khaled’s simple-yet-optimistic messages have caught on like wildfire and everyone is tuning in. I have to admit, there are times where I have been way more productive after watching DJ Khaled’s snaps. So don’t be negative. Don’t play yourself.
I expend a huge amount of my time and energy writing books and articles and working to keep my company innovative. I’ve developed an obsession with some of history’s most creative minds in the hope that I might learn some tricks to expand my own creative productivity.
Some of the things I’ve learned are more useful than others, and some are simply too weird to try.
Steve Jobs, for example, routinely sat on toilets, dangling his bare feet in the water while he came up with new ideas, and Yoshiro Nakamatsu (inventor of the floppy disc) would dive deep under water until his brain was deprived of oxygen, then write his ideas on an underwater sticky pad.
Weird ideas aside, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of the habits of some of history’s most creative minds. There’s enough commonality between different people that I’ve distilled their habits into strategies that anyone can follow.
Six of these strategies stand out because they have the power to change the way you think about creativity. Give them a try, and you’ll reach new levels of creative productivity.
Not all creative minds are morning people. Franz Kafka routinely stayed up all night writing, and William Styron (author of Sophie’s Choice, among other best sellers) woke up at noon every day and considered his “morning” routine to be staying in bed for another hour to think.
However, early risers make up the clear majority of creative thinkers. The list of creative early risers ranges from Benjamin Franklin to Howard Schultz to Ernest Hemmingway, though they didn’t all wake up early for the same reasons. Ben Franklin woke up early to plan out his day, while Schultz uses the time to send motivational emails to his employees. For many creative people, waking up early is a way to avoid distractions. Ernest Hemingway woke up at 5 a.m. every day to begin writing. He said, “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool and cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”
The trick to making getting up early stick is to do it every day and avoid naps—no matter how tired you feel. Eventually, you will start going to bed earlier to make up for the lost sleep. This can make for a couple of groggy days at first, but you’ll adjust quickly, and before you know it, you’ll join the ranks of creative early risers.
There’s plenty of evidence pointing to the benefits of exercise for creativity. Feeling good physically gets you in the right mood to focus and be productive. Exercise also forces you to have disconnected time (it’s tough to text or email while working out), and this allows you to reflect on whatever it is you’re working on. In a Stanford study, 90% of people were more creative after they exercised.
It’s no surprise that so many creative and successful people built exercise into their daily routines. Kurt Vonnegut took walks into the nearby town, swam laps, and did push-ups and sit-ups, Richard Branson runs every morning, and composers Beethoven and Tchaikovsky both walked daily.
It’s a common misconception that in order to be creative, one must live life on a whim with no structure and no sense of need to do anything, but the habits of highly successful and creative people suggest otherwise. In fact, most creative minds schedule their days rigorously. Psychologist William James described the impact of a schedule on creativity, saying that only by having a schedule can we “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.”
Creativity flourishes when you’re creating for yourself and no one else. Creativity becomes more difficult when your livelihood depends upon what you create (and you begin to think too much about what your audience will think of your product). Perhaps this is why so many successful and creative people held on to their day jobs. Many of them, like Stephen King, who was a schoolteacher, produced their breakout (and, in King’s case, what many consider his very best) work while they still held a 9 to 5.
Day jobs provide more than the much-needed financial security to create freely. They also add structure to your day that can make your creative time a wonderful release. The list of successful, creative minds who kept their day jobs is a long one. Some notable individuals include Jacob Arabo, who started designing his own jewelry while working in a jewelry shop; William Faulkner, who worked in a power plant while writing As I Lay Dying; and musician Philip Glass, who worked as a plumber.
A lot of people work in only one place, believing it’s practically impossible for them to get anything done anywhere else. Staying in one place is actually a crutch; studies show that changing environments is beneficial to productivity and creativity. E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, said it well: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” The same is true for any type of creative work. If you keep waiting until you are in the perfect place at the ideal time, the time will never come.
Steve Jobs started Apple in his mom’s garage, and JK Rowling wrote the first ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin on a train. When you have a creative idea, don’t wait—put it into action as soon as you can. Recording that spark of creativity may very well be the foundation of something great.
As long as your heart is still beating, you have the ability to come up with new ideas and execute them. They may not always be great ones, but the greatest enemy of creativity is inactivity.
Author Jodi Picoult summarized creative blocks perfectly: “I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it—when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Picoult’s comment describes all creative activity—the only way to stay creative is to keep moving forward.
In my experience, you must get intentional about your creativity if you want it to flourish. Give these six strategies a try to see what they can do for you.
Author: Travis Bradberry
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.
Product development, web design, free-style rapping, writing, cooking, art, music, to the way you make your bed in the morning, what are we talking about here?
From forward-thinking tech-product managers such as Ryan Hoover, to the barista who serves your coffee art, we all have creativity within us. Here’s a hit list of 14 things nobody told you about being creative:
If you want to be creative, do it. Forget the prejudice that creativity is saved for the select few. With a willingness to learn and desire to start, you can be creative. So get going.
Art is theft. — Pablo Picasso
Actually, I took the concept for this column’s title from the book, Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon. My title was his subtitle, and became the inspiration to write this piece. How’s that for meta?
This is seen in all disciplines, with blaring examples surfacing in hip hop. How many times have you heard your favorite rapper’s chorus, sound byte or voice in another rapper’s song?
Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” From web design, writing, music, to cooking, there are endless examples of creatives “borrowing from one another.”
Speaking of rap: This study shows brain scans of freestyle rappers with the goal to understand the neuroscience behind the skill.
“We think what we see is a relaxation of ‘executive functions’ to allow more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur that might be the hallmark of creativity,” says Allen Braun, a neuroscientist at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md.
In layman’s terms, the rappers were able to remove themselves from the logical thinking that happens in their brains so that the creative side could come through. Mind — blown.
There are endless research studies that have been shown that creativity is a learned behavior. One of my favorite studies was done by George Land.
In 1968, Land tested the creativity of 1,600 children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15. The results were astounding.
“What we have concluded,” Land wrote, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
Wow.This should give us even more reason to go against societal norms.
Here are some ways to improve it: experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.
Last week I wrote a column about different activities that allow my entrepreneurial brain to be more creative.
Latent inhibition is a person’s ability to ignore irrelevant information in the world, an important skill in navigating such a complex place. However, people with low latent inhibition, such as those with ADHD, have less of a filter, and are more likely to notice seemingly irrelevant information around them. You could say their logic force is constantly subdued. As a result, they are more likely to make unexpected connections.
One idea can create a domino effect. In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes that “creativity happens when seemingly unrelated existing ideas collide to form new ideas.”
Creativity is a muscle that can be developed with constant exercise and healthy habits.
Combining their research about creativity, Tony Schwartz and Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson found that, “it’s possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest … it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work.”
Most of my personal creativity comes from the world around me. The moment I try to “get in the zone” and start getting creative is typically the moment where I feel the creative block. Exploring the world eyes wide open will give you the creative fodder you need.
Everything you see is a creation. Whether you believe in a master creator or in evolution, it is all still creation. I can go off on a tangent, but rather am going to provide you a relevant Steve Jobs quote:
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact — everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. Shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it vs. make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.
Have you looked outside recently? The world is full of awe, from the smallest of insects to the endless expanse that is the universe. Everything about nature is beautiful. There’s no better inspiration.
Creativity takes work, time and energy. Being creative is a lifestyle choice.
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. — Dr. Seuss
I document everything. I have notebooks and jot down ideas. I use Keynote to sketch out product visions. I use Google docs and have endless drafts for articles, books and all of my writings (published and trashed). I save websites I like, I mock up stuff all of the time and am constantly taking notes about everything.
Van Gogh, Thoreau and Edgar Allen Poe were all ahead of their time. Who’s to say you aren’t?
Create what you want, write what you want to read, build what you want to use, cook what you want to eat and share it with the world. If the world responds positively — cool. If not, who cares? At least you’re doing what you enjoy. Maybe the future will appreciate you, and maybe not. Learn how to be creative for you.
Author: Andrew Medal
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.