I am a creative type, yet I spent most of my career in big businesses that were not about creativity. I found the people to be smart, motivated, and committed and I appreciated left brain analytical processes and those that were good at fast action. I also found it was not a good fit for me. It took me twenty+ years to admit this. While I was empowered, smart and successful, I was also deeply conditioned to crave stability and security. I chose environments that gave me more pay, status, and gave me that sense of stability. I got consumed by the trance of success, letting my ego be in the driver’s seat. Not the true me or authentic self, but that little voice inside that says you need to make more money, go for the promotion. That voice had the keys and I let it drive and take me wherever it wanted to go, asleep at the wheel.
Many years later it is easy to see. I was an undercover creative type navigating the quagmire of the corporate world and I got a bit lost. Let me share an example. When younger I had a decent sense of direction, i.e. I could find my way around places. In my last corporate job, I travelled a lot, mostly US based, but to different locations and office buildings each time. Even when I visited a place I had been before, I would inevitably get lost. EVERY TIME. My internal compass was shut down. My brain was scrambled and my body on high alert, I was out of alignment. About a year after I left the corporate world, I was coaching at a large leadership conference in a high-rise hotel. My room was on a high-level floor. I rode the elevator down for the first time, got off and knew exactly which way to go AND was correct. I remember it as an aha moment, as this was the first time I had experienced “going the right way” in over seven years. I had not realized how off kilter I had been.
Fifteen years of working for myself as a consultant, coach, writer, mom, and volunteer has helped me get back into alignment with the creative side of myself. There are days I lose my focus, direction, and clarity. I then know it is time to step back and see where the “interference” is coming from that is monkeying with my internal compass.
Often, one or more of the following are creating interference:
- I have let go of the wheel, i.e. my ego is driving
- I have said YES to too much, NO to too little, and am finding my energies scattered
- I am working from a sense of obligation vs. inspiration
- I am not doing enough “creative” work and too much “drudge” work
When I get out of alignment, it is key to my professional success to find ways to re-engage with what inspires me. I find that one small action towards something that is inspiring to me makes a difference. Once I do that, things begin to shift back into alignment.
Here are a few examples of actions:
- Reflect (then act upon) how you are or could be of service to someone other than a boss
- Say no to a request, and/or get something off your plate that you don not love working on
- Take a longer lunch and chat with a friend or read something you want to v. feel you “should”
- Get involved in a small thing that tickles your creative side or inspires you
- Listen, dance and/or sing to your favorite song
- Get out some colored pencils/crayons/markers and color a nice picture
- Plan an outing to one of your favorite places
- Pretend you are “caught up” for 5 minutes and just soak up that feeling
- Take a nap or if time is short, take 3 nice deep belly breaths
- Eat a small favorite treat (can you say chocolate?)
- Write a note (not a text or e-mail) appreciating/showing gratitude or thanks for someone then mail it!
If you relate to being out of alignment, I wonder if what you are doing at work is aligned with who you really are? Is there something at work creating interference for you? You may not need not a life overhaul like I did yet taking a step towards something that matters can jumpstart inspiration and move you back towards alignment. I encourage you to try it and see where it leads you today.