Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 4, no. 6
Applying a Creative Model to Managing your Career
|This issues discusses some of the ways in which the application of what is known about the creative process can help job seekers and career changers move forward in the context of a more dynamic and complex world of work.|
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Learning from The Creative Process
Recently, I have been re-reading “The Path of Least Resistance” by Robert Fritz. In this book (subtitled: Learning to become the creative force in your own life), Fritz takes what he has learned about the creative process as a composer and artist and describes how it can be applied to careers and personal lives.
Although first published in 1984, these ideas are still relevant. If you would want to be more proactive about your work and your life, I recommend taking a look at this book. Below is one idea that might be helpful in your career.
Problem Solving as an Approach to Work and Life
In Fritz’s view, most of us live and work by responding to external circumstances. The predominant focus of education and professional training is on solving problems. Sometimes we respond by taking steps to avoid problems. Sometimes our efforts are directed towards trying to change the circumstances that are causing the problems.
Applying The Creative Process
Although solving problems often leads to success, Fritz argues that it is limited because we are constrained by what we already know. A better approach is to apply the creative process or “take action to have something come into being”. This allows us to discover things that we don’t yet know.
Use Familiar Methods?
Say, for example, you are thinking about making a change in your work. What do you do? Most job seekers do what is most familiar. You begin to engage in job search activities. You look to see what is available. You browse through open positions online. Maybe you update your resume and online profiles. If you’re serious, you may add job search tasks to your calendar to be sure that you make time for them. The advantage of this approach is that if you are responding to a particular job opening the steps are clear. You know what to do. But over time, if you get negative or no responses, it is easy to lose motivation and momentum.
Why We Don’t Ask Question #1: What do I Want?
How often do you stop to ask what you want? According to Fritz, this should be first question. It seems simple, but of course the answer is far from simple. Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you know, but you believe that what you want is unrealistic. There are many reasons why asking this question is not that common.
According to Fritz, asking what you want should not be contingent on whether you know what you want, or even if whether you believe that what you want is possible. The benefits of asking what you want is that it allows you to shift from an approach that is constrained by how you perceive the circumstances to taking a fresh approach. Rather than trying to figure out the way through a maze that already exists, you seek to create your own path.
Begin with An Idea and Test It
In Fritz’s view, even if you don’t yet know what you want, you can begin with an idea of the result you want to achieve. Once you have this idea, you can look at where you are now and begin to take steps in the direction of your desired result. A simple example might be that a job seeker connects with companies that are of interest even though there are no open positions.
Create your Own Structure
The disadvantage is that this approach involves more unknowns. Unless you have some idea of what you want, you may get lost in the process. You need to have a purpose and to create your own structure. An analogy might be a scientist conducting a series of test experiments or an artist working on proofs or prototypes. You are not just doing things randomly.
Although the specific result is not known, each step is purposeful. The process is deliberate whether or not you get the result you anticipate. This makes it easier to maintain momentum. The design of each action is informed by the outcomes of the previous action. Does this model seem relevant to managing your career?
Comments & Questions
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