A couple of weeks ago a young high school student asked me to speak about "my passion" at his class. I've been reflecting on this assignment ever since. Is it even possible to follow my passion as an adult? Have I left it behind with youthful dreams of Opera houses and Broadway musicals? What is my passion now?
This question matters. It matters that I have to think about passion, that I don't just know - immediately - that I'm doing what I was born to do. It matters if I slowly allow my gifts to slip away.
Take a look, for instance, at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's brilliant work on Flow. A person is in "Flow" when her work is so challenging, so enriching, that nothing else seems to matter - at least for that moment. Perhaps Warren Beatty was thinking of Flow when he said: "You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play."
Tomorrow, I want to wake up and focus first on that which brings me to Flow. The discovery of research. The pure joy of learning something new. The excitement of finishing something I care about. Let me declare Wednesdays my Flow days.
How about you? What brings you to Flow?
To learn more about Professor Csikszentmihaly's work:
Happy Flow Day!
During the last few weeks, I have focused my R&D efforts on a new program on Innovative Leadership. Developing this program has been an interesting ride, as I tried to "connect the dots" between topics such as systems thinking, adaptive leadership, innovation, creativity, and personality. I know - quite a smorgasbord. In fact, one of the toughest parts of the development process has been to use such complexity to build a rich program - but then to simplify the content for best possible results.
Here are a few "lessons learned' from this process:
In other words: Building an "innovative organization" is hardly possible if one only focuses on "individual creativity" workshops. These workshops, however, can still be useful. For instance, we're including in ours a review of a participant's unique path to creativity - his or her talents, personality traits, values, and expertise. One could also use workshops to support the development of innovation related competencies such as relationship building, information sharing, and making connections.
The last competency - making connections - brings me back to the main topic of this blog. It's impossible to be efficient if we constantly branch out of our areas of expertise. Thing is - making connections is at the heart of innovation. Amazing ideas come from the "odd bridges" that we build between our fields and others', between the immediate, the practical, and the "I'm not sure how on earth I'll use this" pieces of information.
So here are two questions to readers of this blog:
1. How much time do you dedicate to "impractical" or "out of your area of expertise" topics?
2. Once you "branch out" into different areas, how do you then bring yourself back and... make it simple?
(1) de Sousa, F., Pellissier, R., & Monteiro, I. (2012). Creativity, innovation, and collaborative organizations. International Journal Of Organizational Innovation, 5(1), 26-64.
About the Author
Dr. Cris Wildermuth is an Assistant Professor at Drake University, where she coordinates and teaches at the Master of Science in Leadership Development.