A couple of years ago I noticed something while watching Mumford and Sons perform on the Grammys. Specifically it was the energy of their performance and the pure enjoyment they seemed to derive from it. Now it’s something I always watch for in live performances. It’s not always there, but when it is, it creates in me a desire to experience that joy of creativity and performance.
There was a time in my career which required me to rely heavily on creativity. Early on I moved from an Operations role to a Sales role. While I knew the products, I had no Sales training or experience. I wouldn’t get any for while either. I was just kind of thrown out there. So I made it up as I went. When I hit the road, it was just me and my customer. And it was exciting. Each call required subtle variations in my performance. In many ways I was on stage and using my creativity to succeed. And within that creativity I felt energized.
And I did feel like I had an audience. That audience provided feedback that was immediate and, often, direct. I was performing and their gestures, body language and other responses told me exactly how I was doing. I could use that feedback to gain better results on both that sales call, and the next. Over time I became very good at reading my audience and then very good at Sales.
But, over time, you know what you need to do and the creative demands on you to do it are less. I also got promoted and placed further away from the customer. Management requires its own kind of creativity but it certainly didn’t have the challenges or rewards of customer interaction. Eventually I found myself looking around asking: “where did the fun go?”
Now cycle forward a few years. I started to get back in touch with my inner geek, more as a matter of stress relief than anything else. First it was more comics, and then I discovered Heroclix. From Heroclix I got back into other games, including Dungeons and Dragons. One thing D and D encourages is role-play and I happened to have a DM who was really working to pull that from the players. The first step was creating my character and then his background. As I worked with this, I got really excited as the creative juices were flowing. Then I decided to run my own game, which required even more creative output. Finally, I started this blog. Suddenly I had regained the creative outputs I had lost. With that renewed creativity I felt that joy that had been gone for so long. It wasn’t work related, but work at least provided the financial foundation to feed my game habit.
So where do I go from here? At 45 the second phase of my life is beginning to unfold. I’m now faced with decisions about how I want to spend my next 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. The big question I ask myself is “where do I go from here?” What will drive what I do next? Do I pursue money, safety and security? Or do I step out of my comfort zone and try to find a way to earn a living in a way that lets me further tap creativity? Right now I have some ideas I’m working with. This blog is part of that. I plan to enjoy the ride and hope you do as well.