Most of us wouldn't think of doing "good" work as hurting us. But in a recent conversation between Michael Bungay Stanier and David Allen on GTD Connect (subscription only) Michael made this point loud and clear. Based on a previous description by Designer Milton Glaser, Michael asserts that in our lives we are only ever doing three kinds of work:
- Bad work
- Good work
- Great work
Michael believes that you will only ever do more "great" work if you can endeavor to remove some "good" work from your life. This idea resonated with me as I believe that the characteristics of great work are fundamentally different from good, in particular I believe great work requires either a challenge or learning in order to give you a feeling of achievement and satisfaction. And I also believe that great work requires imagination and creativity. Good work can benefit from it as well, but for great work it's a necessity.
In our careers we often get caught up in the mundane or the routine, in work that is neither challenging or a learning experience. But I believe that the key to turning this around is to taking some of the good work you do and focus on using your creativity to make it great. Challenge yourself, stretch yourself to make your work into a creative environment. It will make all the difference for yourself in your career, as well as in your enjoyment of your life.
In particular I have found that the more creative I was at work the more I enjoyed myself. Quite often it led to success, but not always! But despite any failures it has always created indirect benefits that I never considered beforehand. I think it is tough to be creative in our everyday work. And unfortunately many companies seem to pay lip service to wanting people who "think outside the box" (See Kathy Sierra for more). I also think that a lack of tools to really evaluate someone's creativity is a set back for companies in the hiring process.
Have you have had an opportunity to be creative at work and have had that backfire on you? Or had it be wildly successful? Would you like to share that story? I would be more than interested in hearing about stories of creativity at work as it seems to be a topic that many readers are really interested in.
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