Articles, Blog

7 ways to be more practical (I’m too creative & I’m too open minded – I want be more grounded)

October 10, 2019


What’s up everybody, what do people like
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson have in common? Well, they’re known to be
very creative and they have a lot of output of new ideas. However, when you
think about it, there’s only actually a few things that come to mind, even though
they’re known to create a lot of other products. Well, the reason is because of
all the many things they’ve experimented with, only a few actually stick, and today
I will be talking about things that creative people struggle with. Do people
tell you that you have a lot of great ideas, you’re really creative, but when it
comes to implementing these ideas, there’s something that’s kind of missing.
If so, this video is for you. Here’s the truth, no matter how good your idea is, it
still needs to be implemented. Ideas are, execution is the game. Did you know that
raising a lot of capital doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will
take off? A recent study by CB insights found that there’s a lot of companies
that raise a lot of capital based on a great idea, but they almost always
struggle with growth afterwards, and this is now what they call the foie gras’ing of
startups. We got a lot of examples of this in the business world.
Before Facebook, there was Friendster, there was myspace, and if you’re from my
generation, you had Asian Avenue. Also, before Uber, there was Taxi Magic, and
Steve Jobs was actually not the first one to come up with the graphic user
interface that we all use today. It was actually made by Xerox, but Steve Jobs
took it and applied it to the Apple platform, also the iPod was not the
first mp3 player, there were lots of mp3 players before iPod really took off. At
the end of the day, all of these new renditions out executed their
predecessors. One major reason why people can’t execute is because they lacked
focus and they can’t hone in on that single money-making task. Coaches often
call this a shiny diamond syndrome, where people often jump from one idea to
another. A coach of mine once told me, be careful not to be busy picking up
diamonds and forget to make jewelry. If you feel like you have the afore
mentioned shiny diamond syndrome, then this video is for you. In this video, I’m
going to give you seven tips on how to lower your creativity a little bit and
focus on execution. If you don’t think the lack of execution describes you, then
check out the video I made last week that talks about how you can increase your
creativity so that you can come up with new ideas, and if you think you have a
good balance between both being creative and implementing, then really, watch both
videos because both videos will give you an understanding of both ends of a
creativity continuum. Before I get to the solutions, I want to talk a bit about
what psychology tells us is the source of our creativity. Now creativity is
largely moderated by something called trait openness in our Big Five
personality traits, and this is mostly in our dopaminergic system, so the amount of
dopamine is basically the amount of energy that we have to explore new ideas.
For example, have you ever gone on a learning spree where you find a great
idea online and you start click click and you click everywhere, you
open a whole bunch of tabs, you read all about it, and you read on and read on after a while you feel eventually burnt
out because you spent so much energy learning but you kind of just wanna,
maybe it’s time to just slow down a little bit and stick with the tried and
true. According to the Big Five personality traits, personality is on a
continuum. On one end of the continuum you have what we call the Explorers, and
these are people who have a lot of natural energy to go and learn new
things. On the other end of a continuum you have what we call the preservers, and
preservers are people who prefer to stick with the tried and true. On the
middle, you have what we call the moderates, and the moderates are people
who like to strike a good balance between novelty and tradition. Now to be
very clear, I’m not saying that explorers can’t do preserver things and that
preservers can’t do explorer things, it’s just that they don’t have the natural
energy to do too much of the other end of the spectrum, and if you’re in the
middle then you have a good balance but you can’t do too much of both sides, so
there really are a lot of pros and cons to where you are situated on the
continuum, and one thing I want to add is that trait conscientiousness regulates
our ability to focus or to multitask, and this has a lot of implications upon
our trait openness because if you’re able to focus and you’re also an
explorer, that’s actually a pretty rare combination and it’s also a pretty
strong competition because you can have new ideas and you can also focus on the
task at hand. In the future, I’m going to be making a video about trait
conscientiousness, so if you haven’t done so already, please subscribe and click
the notification bell so that when the video does come out, you’ll get to see it.
Now that aside, here are the seven ways to tone down
your creativity and help you get better at executing. Tip number one, develop
short-term lists to help you focus. Now these lists can be done on a variety of
things, they can be put on apps they can be put on a calendar, they
can be put on a post-it note and you just gotta scratch
things out one at a time, whatever you get done, but the key point is having a
list can help you focus. Now, if you haven’t done so already, check out James
Clear’s book called “Atomic Habits” because it teaches you how to track your habits
and also how to put systems in place to increase your conscientiousness
so that you can remain focused on the tasks at hand. Now one thing I really
like about James Clears book is that in there he talks about different ways to
track your habits so one good thing that he talks about tracking is having a
physical calendar placed in your room somewhere prominent is a great idea
because nothing really motivates us more than seeing things actually crossed out
in front of you, is like I got it done today, so over time once you see weeks
crossed out, months crossed out, it actually creates a very strong sense of
accomplishment and it actually becomes a part of your identity, it becomes who you
are because you are able to do these things consistently. So one great tip for
helping you focus is to use these short-term lists and actually track them,
and this brings me to my second point, limit the amount of projects you commit
to so that you can reach a sense of closure. One thing about people who are
high in trait openness is that they like to embrace new ideas and try new things
out, so one way to get rid of this type of mental clutter is to actually
organize yourself, and in this case I highly recommend something called the
Eisenhower matrix. On the Eisenhower matrix you have
two axes, one axis is what is important and the other axis is what is urgent. Now
for something that is urgent and important, you need to do it immediately,
right, for something that is in the quadrant of urgent but not important
then you need to delegate it, for something that is important but not
urgent, you need to schedule a time to get that done, and for something that is
not urgent and not important, why are you even doing it? One very effective way of
organizing your mental clutter is to have that short-term list that you have
on the previous tip and map it out on these four quadrants, and once you do
that, you start realizing hey there’s a bunch of stuff that I actually don’t
need to do, there’s a bunch of stuff that I should get someone else to do and
that my time should be spent primarily doing the things that are important and
urgent. Now one thing that I personally do with the Eisenhower matrix is that I
write all my tasks on post-it notes, and once I put it put on a post-it note, I
slap it on different parts of the Eisenhower matrix, some things may be
more important than the others so having posted those that are tactile, actually
there and sticking on a wall is a good way to organize your thoughts, and also
when you get the task done you get to peel it off the wall, and the sense of
satisfaction of having things that were on your wall and then you get to peel it
off is pretty awesome. Now the third tip that I have is to
commit to the idea of depth over breadth. Now one thing that we do in businesses
is that we help people solve their problems, before committing into something, share your idea, test it out on different people, and see what their response is,
because at the end of the day, businesses are about solving people’s problems,
you really need to identify the pain points of other people or businesses to
really provide value for them. Otherwise, having a lot of new ideas and fancy
ideas, if you cannot deliver and execute on them, really does nobody any good,
which brings me to my fourth point, which is to write your idea down in a way that
is visual, so that you can explain the processes, the connections,
how one thing relates to another, and we call this crystallizing your
ideas, and one thing that’s really helpful is that once you start writing
these ideas down and drawing it out, you start realizing that there are some gaps
and unforeseen things that you had when you originally conceptualize the idea.
There may be gaps that you didn’t know until you draw it out, you really wouldn’t
know that it was there, and so if you’re a new business owner, definitely write
down your business plan and map out what your plans are in the next year or two
because this will help you be a lot more practical and have a pie in the sky idea
that you can’t eat on the ground. The fifth tip that I have is to find a coach
or a mentor who is moderate in trait openness and this is really important
because this coach is able to see both sides of the continuum and they’ll be
able to give you feedback on your short-term list so that you can get the
maximum benefit from this list. The sixth tip that I have is to hang around people
who are lower in trait openness, and the sixth tip is actually the remaining two
tips, right because it’s about being around people or putting people around
you. The first option is to bring them into your team and when I say bring them
into your team, that’s actually a really important aspect of leadership. Leaders
tend to be higher in trait openness and managers tend to be lower in trait
openness. Essentially, what I’m saying is if you are a leader with a creative idea,
it’s important to bring in people who will hold you accountable to KPIs, to the
progress, and to track the whole project. So for example, it’s well-known that
Richard Branson is open to a lot of new ideas, he’s always looking for the next
thing to invest in, but even he himself knows that as a leader, sometimes he’s
kind of all over the place so for him he’s comfortable bringing
people into his team that are comfortable with challenging his idea
and saying you know what, it’s a great idea but it might not work the way you
think it would on the ground and for him bringing people like that into his team
is really helpful, and I’ve seen teams where people who are on that team all
tend to be similar in their trait openness and that they’re all open
minded and looking for new ideas and this actually tends to be
more of the case for fields that are always changing and constantly changing
such as marketing and advertising and these people, yeah, the fact that they chose this industry in the first place means
there’s a huge selection effect that these people tend to have these types of
predispositions, but it’s precisely for this reason that they should bring
people who are a little bit lower in trait openness, maybe in the mid-
level, maybe not in the low level but in the mid-level who actually have some
energy to think, how is this actually going to be implemented and is it going
to be effective, so the second option for this tip is to do volunteer work, and
when I say volunteer work it’s because people who are in this field tend to be
much more grounded and they think about application. It’s also good for the soul,
it opens you up to new experiences and if you’re higher in trait openness it works
because it gives you new experiences to explore, so essentially the sixth tip is
to put people around you or be around people who are lower in trait openness.
If you liked this video, please give it a like and comment below and let me know
what else you want to hear about, and also don’t forget to subscribe and click
the notification bell and share with your friends, take care.

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply Dr. Jon Tam August 13, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the video!

  • Leave a Reply