Lead a vivid life that does good

Tag: Creativity

How much do I get paid?

Pay Kids for inventionsAround our house we have duties that everyone has to do each week on rotation as a part of being in the family. Then there are the tasks like mowing the lawns which I can do for free, or the kids can do for money.

Of course the first question is “how much do I get paid?”

We are taught from an early age to value our time when we work. We are rewarded for the hours we put in, not the outcomes.

Which is weird, because as adults we know true success is not determined by how much we earn.

Success is defined by what we do.

What we learn.

What we create.



Who we help.



And how we shape the lives of people around us.

I’m not sure I want my kids to grow up with a ‘wage’ mentality. I would rather they have a ‘change’ mentality.

Maybe those of us with kids should start paying them for the hours they aren’t on devices or watching TV.

We could pay them to read, or exercise, or learn new stuff they don’t teach at school.

We could start offering to pay our kids when they are writing, or creating, or making art.

Better yet, we could pay our kids for each invention they make, regardless of how successful. Or fund any social project, no matter how short-lived.

I’m sure there will be a downside to all of this, but it must be better than just paying them to mow the lawns

How to create space to think

Unique physical spaces, can trigger amazing changes in how we think.As I open the door and step across the threshold, I’m struck by the sweet aroma of fresh coffee. The warmth inside contrasts the crisp air outside, as does the bustle and noise of a busy café. I glance around the café and take comfort from the fact I see no-one I know.

I slide into a booth and my mind is ready. I’ve reached my liminal space.

A space for thought and focus and creativity.

It’s not a space for a catch-up (I only ever go there alone). It’s not a space for surfing the web or being connected. It’s not even a space where I engage with anyone. It is a space for thinking through one big thing at a time. It is a space where I break down a problem and mapping out a solutions.

This space is a place for threshold thinking. Taking old thinking and crossing the threshold into something new (the word liminal means threshold, in psychology it’s where the word subliminal derives.)

The reason I call this café my liminal space, is because I use the space to both trick and trigger my brain. By only ever doing creative thought at this café, I’ve made it really easy to think there.

When I slide into the booth, unpack my notebook or surface, I’m no longer drawn to read my email, and have little desire for social media, not because of my fantastic discipline, but because I have an internal narrative for this space. I have solved big problems in this space. I have built resolve for personal disciplines in this space.

Unique physical spaces, can trigger amazing changes in how we think.

Over the years I’ve underestimated how incredibly important spaces are. Spaces, places, environments are important for setting the scene for physical, relational or mental outcomes.

Here’s some more ways we use spaces…

  • Dinner at the table: Causes our family to interact and engage more than we do on the couch watching TV.
  • Lunch at a café: Allows me to engage at a deeper personal level than I would in my office.
  • Walking meetings: Walking with people and chewing through big ideas provides for more open and reflective conversation.

And of course you can have negative spaces as well. Places where you are drawn away from who you want to be.

If you want to make some changes, sometimes you need to change your spaces.

What are your spaces? What outcomes do they drive in your life?

How to stop people thinking outside the box.

It's easier for people to think outside the box, when the box doesn’t exist.You know when you repaint a room a different colour, and the first coat of the new fresh paint doesn’t look quite as you expected. You’re pretty sure it will be OK, but until you get the rest of the paint on you won’t know.

Last week, with our annual conference looming and our strategy so fresh I wasn’t sure how it would look, I decided I needed some icons/logos for our strategy.

I wanted something different, risky and evocative that would help my team grasp these new ideas.

I wanted hip.

I wanted fresh.

So, I set up a gig on a marketing design platform, so that I could get something completely new.

And I waited the 3 days … with anticipation… excited… and when the gig finally arrived it looked exactly like something we would do 🙁 … (even had our logo in it!)

Not hip. Not evocative. Not fresh.

Not usable.

The designer had given me exactly what I asked for, but nothing like what I wanted.

And it was my fault!

In my desire to give a full brief of the work, I had included links to our website and current values. This quest to be helpful created a box. A frame in which he would work. And that frame along with his desire to please, forced his design into a small box.

That small box killed creativity.

We do this often as leaders.

Unknowingly, we over-define outcomes and rules and expectations. We frame tasks so strongly they force our team to work in boxes.

And then we wonder why people aren’t creative. Why they don’t think outside the box.

It’s easier for people to think outside the box, if the box doesn’t exist.


Two things you need to become innovative

Creative ExecutionYou have probably all worked with people at the creative extremes. At one end is the person who works really hard, executes like crazy then tells you “I’m not creative”. At the opposite end of the scale is the “ideas person” who constantly has ideas and never delivers on anything.

Leading these people can be vexing indeed. For the ‘executer’ you know they have a depth of knowledge that could dramatically improve your organisation, if only they took the time to be creative occasionally. And for the ‘ideas guy’, could they not stop talking and actually do something.

At Agoge two of our values are Execution and Be Creative. I’m realising that these two values are in constant battle with one another.

Being creative and execution are a paradox.

You can’t do both well at the same time. When you are in execution mode, work is about lists and priorities and completion. And when you are being creative the last thing you need to be thinking is to-do lists.

Creativity it turns out takes one thing… TIME.

Creativity requires that you take an extended break from executing.

Creativity requires leaders who are prepared to allow their team to stop executing so that they can be creative.

I desire for the organisations I lead to be innovative. Here is the formula:

Creativity + Execution = Innovation

As a leader this means I must be doing both and I must be constantly enabling my team to do the same.