Tag: motivation


Dare to Aspire: Working at the Intersection of Creativity and Ambition

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

As creatives, we’re always working toward to the next great thing — the next project, the next pitch, the next award. But with our packed schedules and competitive industry, it’s easy to get to caught up in the day-to-day of meetings, deadlines, and output, that we often aren’t able to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we really aspiring to?”

Recently, we completed a new show open for E!’s hit series, “Fashion Police,” and found ourselves focusing on the aspirational nature of fashion for the open’s theme. The fashion industry is driven by an unabashedly honest mandate to be aspirational. As much for designers and brands as for the consumers they create for. Aspiration, along with motivation and inspiration, is a key part of the trifecta that’s essential for any company to grow, but it’s not where we usually place our emphasis in our industry.

As brand marketers and designers, we operate at the intersection of business and creative, equally influenced by both industries. In the business world, the focus is on a very outward, but down-reaching goal of how to increase motivation from interactive programs and books to motivational speakers. In the creative world, we put so much emphasis on where we get our inward inspiration, via conferences and award shows, design annuals and publications. Both have their place, certainly, but without the key ingredient of the forward-thinking key of aspiration, we’re losing an opportunity to focus on long-term change.

We focus so much on motivating employees and inspiring good ideas, but do we really focus on our own aspirations for our company? Maybe we should take a cue from that industry and as entrepreneur Curt Hanke puts it, be a little more “naked with our ambitions.”

But to really be sure we’re incorporating aspiration into our company’s mandate, it’s important to understand how motivation, inspiration and aspiration differ. Motivation is a complex driver that governs much of our life, especially our basic needs. It can be summarised as “the desire to do things.” It can be biological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I’m hungry and need to eat.”) or psychological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because it was due last week, and I don’t want to get fired.”) Within this context, aspiration can be seen as a “long term hope” or “goal.” Your aspirations can motivate you to work hard and get things done to achieve your further reaching goals (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I want to start working on the idea that will make me the next Leo Burnett.”). While inspiration is a sometimes fleeting injection of some higher reaching creative that we’re trying to make accessible on our own level, budget, time or talent-wise.

Aspiration is about raising the bar from within. That’s why it’s important to revisit your aspirations on a regular basis, whether for your career or your company. And, by keeping your aspirations as goals at the forefront of your company’s mission and feeling proud enough to share them with your partners, employees and collaborators, you’re essentially broadcasting your confidence in your own brand. So, even if our wardrobes haven’t changed much since the ‘90s, maybe we should all aspire a little to be more like the fashion industry and reach a little higher.


Don’t Put It Off: 6 Tips for Combating Procrastination

Image courtesy of http://www.whywesuffer.com/

Image courtesy of http://www.whywesuffer.com/

Procrastination can easily be excused as being fueled by our busy lives — but overly-booked schedules, meetings running long and unscheduled check-ins can only explain so much. And time management tools can only help so much. To really address the issue, we need to look deeper than just how much is on our plates. If we really examine what tasks and issues we’re consistently not facing, it’s usually rooted in a deeper issue. While poor time management contributes to the problem, an inability to face fears and manage emotions is really the root of the problem. More than anything, procrastination is about the fear of losing, the fear of guilt, and the fear of making a mistake.

In fact, procrastinators are often so driven by the fear of failure or of not meeting their self-set standards of perfection, that they’d rather be perceived as lacking effort than lacking ability. It’s a self-defeating cycle because they tend to believe deep down that they can’t do the task successfully or don’t deserve the positive outcome that can result.

Combine this with findings that indicate procrastination shares a strong genetic link with impulsivity, and it can start to feel like the issue is out of our hands, but by recognizing when we’re starting to procrastinate and implementing some hard-learned tactics, we can combat this destructive habit.

Break It Down Into Smaller Steps

Even renaming your To Do list can help. Intimidated over the implementing and planning you have to do? Try breaking the task down into more manageable, concrete verbs instead of big, abstract objectives. Or try breaking up the task into smaller segments and doing one a day, for example.

Enforce Deadlines

Set and enforce personal deadlines. As noted above, chopping up tasks into smaller pieces can make the work seem more manageable, but setting deadlines for yourself can improve your ability to complete the task.

Reward Yourself

Rewards — however big or small — can be a great motivator to get stuff done. If we can train our brains to see task completion as a positive experience rather than an overwhelming one, then we can really work toward reducing procrastination. So reward — rather than punish — yourself for achieving a task or goal.

Forgive Yourself

It’s easy to become weighed down by self-doubt before even starting a project, so much so that it becomes even more difficult to begin. But, studies have found that one of the keys to breaking the procrastination cycle is to forgive yourself for past failures or guilt. Otherwise, you’re likely to go down an endless cycle of shame.

Face The Fear

Fear holds us back in many ways, but in business, perhaps none is so strong as the fear of failure. But we’ve seen time and time again that successful people make more mistakes than others. They just never give up hope or stop trying new things. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and take action.

Start Now

Ultimately, there’s really no trick to short-circuit your brain. Sometimes, you just have to roll up your sleeves, dig in and get started. Once you take that first step, you’ll be surprised at how much easier the next one is.