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Are you looking for ways to infuse more creativity to your work?

As a start-up founder and blogger, I know I am. So I was really excited to attend one of the Summer Brand Camp’s pre-conference sessions, “The Art and Soul of Work”, which was presented by Doug Shaw.

Doug started the session by reminding us that we are all artists. Some of us may express our art through different mediums since we all have different gifts. Nevertheless, we are all artists.

We often shame the creativity out of each other. Think about it: when was the last time you were at a meeting and someone dismissed an idea out of hand? Sadly, this happens frequently in many corporate environments. Here are some ways to challenge naysayers and instill more creativity into your work and life.

Overcome Fear
Doug reminded us to start small, and to “draw for the bin.” In other words, start with small steps, do some brainstorming, and don’t be afraid to rip up your initial efforts and start over.

Although it’s human for us to judge each other, the hard truth is that we’re often our own worse critics. You have to overcome that self-judgment, insecurity, and fear in order to start creating.

doug1Getting started is often the most difficult part of the creative process. I learned that the hard way when I first launched my business. For me, writing is a gift and it comes quite naturally and easily. My social media consultant encouraged me to start blogging. Nevertheless, the first time I hit “publish” on a LinkedIn blog it was terrifying. I started with a short blog about old school ways to hire hourly employees. Once I overcame my initial fear, I got bolder. Blog 2 attracted the attention of a LinkedIn editor. Blog 3 got picked up by Industry Week. Just seven short months after I started blogging, I was named by the LinkUp blog as one of the top 10 people to follow on LinkedIn to give your career an edge.

It’s amazing to see the doors that start to open once you walk through your fears and unleash your creativity.

Ebb and Flow
Sometimes you have to adjust the creative dials to suit your environment. Resources can be plentiful, scarce, or somewhere in the middle.

Doug noted that necessity is the mother of creation. Ebb and flow your efforts depending on your resources. If you have a lot of resources and a supportive culture, you can really go for massive creativity and change. If resources are scarce, and the culture’s not ready for massive change, you’ll need to break down the process into smaller segments.

Ebbing and flowing depending on resources really strikes home for me as a start-up founder. Like many start-ups, we adhere to a lean development philosophy. We listen closely to our customers (resources) and release system enhancements (small steps towards major upgrades) according to feedback and demand.

Show Your Work
It’s important to get feedback and to iterate throughout the creative process. Doug told us that our network is smart, and that we can draw a lot of inspiration from them. This is true regardless of whether you have a strong external network or if you’re working on a project with coworkers from your company.

dougWhen I first considered launching HR Virtuoso I met with the most technical recruiters in my network. I also spoke with some of the most frustrated job seekers I could find. I outlined my vision and asked them for feedback. The result is a mobile recruiting platform built by and for recruiters, with the candidate experience at the forefront.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was doing was what Doug calls “working out loud”. Of course, there’s a hashtag for that (#WOL) and there’s even an international #WOLweek in November.

Be Adaptive
When we change jobs, we usually miss the people more than the work. Doug maintains that the soul of work is assuredly about getting to know each other better. But it’s not about the work or the people: It’s about both. If you’re at a great place to work, you’ll miss both the people and the work when you leave. And, if you’re going to do good work over time, you really need to know what makes your colleagues tick.

What makes us enjoy the work? Going back to our creative sides, work is more enjoyable when it’s collaborative and coactive. It’s also more fun to work with a leadership team that’s dynamic and plays to people’s strengths.

The next time you hold a planning session, make sure you co-create it instead of mandating it. Plans that are built collectively enjoy greater buy-in – and a higher likelihood that people will follow them.

The one constant in our lives is change. Experimentation helps us find new solutions to complex problems and our changing world. As the virtuoso Cole Porter wrote:

Be curious
Though interfering friends may frown
Get furious
At each attempt to hold you down
If this advice you’ll only employ
The future can offer you infinite joy
And merriment

One of the most rewarding things about working at HR Virtuoso is the ability to partner with clients on their hourly recruiting efforts. We’re staffing their companies, but we’re also experimenting with grassroots recruiting efforts, different technology plug-ins, and with recruiting branding messages.

Are you experimenting with your processes and technology? Even small changes can reap big rewards.

Give Yourself a Break
During Summer Brand Camp, Joni Doolin reminded us that brain scientists believe that our exposure to constant connectivity is actually killing parts of our brains. So, pick up pencils, shut down your laptops, and start connecting. Connect with others, but most importantly, connect with yourself and tap into your creativity. You’ll find that it truly is the art and soul of your work – and your life.