Reclaim Your Creative Confidence and Fear of the First Step

First-StepsWho hasn’t sat staring at a blank computer screen, unable to take the first step on a project? As noted in the HBR (12/12) article “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence” by authors Tom Kelley and David Kelley:

“Creative efforts are hardest at the beginning. The writer faces the blank page; the teacher, the start of school; businesspeople, the first day of a new project. In a broader sense, we’re also talking about fear of charting a new path or breaking out of your predictable workflow.”

Many of us are productive once a project is defined and moving forward, but how do we create something out of nothing?

Authors K&K suggest a number of strategies, including giving yourself a “crazy deadline.” This is an idea we’ve started implementing at Intertech, which I first heard about from Drive author and business smart guy Daniel Pink in the context of commissioned versus non-commissioned work.

The idea is called “FedEx Day” and it revolves around giving employees 24 hours to have total control over what they work on, who they work with and how they do the work. It’s all about encouraging creativity and out-of-the-box thinking on an incredibly tight deadline (it absolutely, positively has to be delivered within 24 hours!).

Last year, our first FedEx Day, resulted in a framework/blueprint for our soon-to-be-released new Intertech website. Don’t laugh, but this has been a goal for the past decade!  Like the fabled cobbler whose children have no shoes because he’s too busy making shoes for everyone else, our website had become out-of-date and patched together. Our consultants loathed the site. Now we are on the cusp of having something they will enjoy working on and being associated with.

Other FedEx projects have led to a video called “the Intertech Experience,” which demonstrates what it’s like to attend one of our classes (watch out Mr. Spielberg!) and another group has re-thought how we manage our courseware.

The essence of this concept, of course, is “Just Do It!” If you have read my book “Building a Winning Business”, you know that I dedicated a chapter to the importance of moving ahead and not getting stuck: “It’s better to move and get things done than to let organizational rigor mortis set in as you search in vain for perfection” were my words of wisdom. But all kidding aside, getting stuff done means we have to push aside inertia. If we can do that, creativity has a much greater chance of coming forward as well.

Next time: Fear of Losing Control