If you love something you’re good at, you’ll never have to work again. – Sir Ken Robinson
As a kid, my answer to the question, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” was often representative of my current interests. I loved to draw, so Artist was frequently an answer. Around third grade I attempted to sound more ambitious with Veterinarian. That is, until I learned that vet medicine was more about cleaning teeth and shots and surgeries, and less about cuddling the animals until they felt better. (If it’d been about the latter, I would’ve been the Doogie Howser of vets.)
So… why aren’t more of us firemen and artists and vets and astronauts? Maybe the education to get to where we wanted to go was prohibitively expensive; maybe we were told that we weren’t strong enough, weren’t good enough, weren’t capable enough to have that dream career we wanted when we were five. Or life, in its mysterious ways, simply took us on a different path. Even if the jobs we find ourselves employed in look far different from what we originally sought, there’s nothing standing in the way of us loving the work we do, except ourselves.
The joy is in how we choose to look at it. If there are tasks that feel like an energy vampire, what’s stopping us from viewing it as a vampire**, and our swift, efficient focus will be the stake that ends its reign of terror. Or maybe we’re held captive by an evil ogre** who won’t let us move on to more fun parts of our job until we finish up the TPS reports… It’s not always easy. Sometimes jobs can feel so small it’s hard to feel like there’s room for any creativity. But think of dreams… Even the largest skull on the planet seems a terribly small place to hold the worlds that exist in our dreams. You don’t need a lot of space for imagination.
If your job is like a concrete block, inflexible and heavy, without room for creativity or heart… then what’s keeping you there? If you’re unable to find a small crack for your imagination to enter and grow, if your ability to express your creative self is stifled and starved, then you’re not able to make full use of your wonderful, amazing brain. You’ll need to change something: your outlook or your job. There is no reason I can fathom that justifies daily unhappiness, or to feel hopeless about our ability to be creative wherever we’re at in life.
What’s the difference between creativity and imagination? As Sir Ken put it at the Co-Op THiNK11 Conference: The difference between the two is that to be creative you have to do something. (#1 Think/imagine. #2 DO.) If you’re not passionate about your work, do something that brings your passion inside your work-place. Or start the journey that leads you to something you both love and are good at. It’s worth overcoming your fears for.
When I think about it, I’m a trainer at a (wonderful!) credit union, and yet… I’m also an artist. It’s not in the way I would have originally defined the term, or even how others may define the term, but I’m sure it’s in ways that are truer to who I am as a person. The art I create is inspired by the people I love and the work that I do. I’m lucky to be part of a great team of inspiring people that works together to advance the CU Movement.
That’s not work, that’s fun. 🙂
**Welcome to my world! It’s a happy place. The villains are concepts, not people.