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Silence as a medium

Silence can be uncomfortable, and it can be tempting to rush to fill “dead air.” When silence falls upon a meeting or lands abruptly in conversation, it can be unsettling and anxiety-provoking. You may question the efficiency of communication or worry that your message has been misunderstood.

But silence is one of the most powerful communication tools we can use. When harnessed, silence allows room for focus, self-reflection, empathy, and introspection. Sometimes, silence is exactly what is needed for a creative storm to follow.

The next time you find yourself in a silent standoff with a friend or among colleagues… pause. Invite silence into the space and watch what blossoms.

“Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Words come out of the void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.”

Wayne Dyer

Embrace mess

Side steps. Mistakes. A missed call. Broken code. Messes are often where innovation is found; the places we release control and let go of “perfection” is the space the unexpected is allowed room to breathe.

Julia Margaret Cameron’s smudgy photographs became her hallmark. Navajo rug weavers intentionally left imperfections in their work. Wabi sabi ceramics celebrate imperfections. Silly Putty wasn’t meant to be entertainment, and Potato Chips were the result of a complaining customer.

The next time you feel like you’ve made a horrible decision or dropped the ball, see if you can reframe the moment as an opportunity.

Have any of your mistakes worked in your favor? Tell me @redheadlefthand.

The tribes you build

The life you want to create, the type of person you want to become, the parts of yourself you’re most excited to cultivate will attract people who will help you get there.

Your relationships are catalysts — the foundations you need to squeeze wisdom from experience and failure. Authentic connection is expansive: the right relationship at the right time are wings to freedom.

Even at your very worst, you were someone’s pride and joy. Remember this when you forget the best parts of your being. Because somewhere in that fog of confusion and longing, we can help each other find laughter and gratitude. Your highest highs and lowest lows are different than mine; the value lies in sharing and discovering what these experiences were like for each of us.

Our mutual appreciation for life — the ups and downs, the hard lessons and the easy ones — might not happen at the same time. Your up might be my down; but no matter, when we do find ourselves together, we can share which lessons that made us better.

The point is to build tribes so that we can elevate and push each other to succeed.

When we collaborate, our ideas become richer. Like a prism, the perspectives we uniquely offer brings treasure. It’s our gift — and our duty — to find it.

Modified from What connect us, posted August 2013.

5 tips for better creative briefs

If you want solid results, you have to start working on solid ground. The creative brief provides just that — a foundation for creativity to grow in a meaningful, targeted way. Without an effective creative brief, ideas lack focus.

Creative briefs are the necessary siphons for results. Here’s how to begin:

  1. Think carefully about your intended goals and the audience you hope to reach. Your creative brief is the container for your project.
  2. Consider your brand. Include market elements that are relevant. Brand category, history, and competition are valuable reference points.
  3. Provide details about your intended customers. Demographics, motivations, current trends, and buying history can serve as creative direction.
  4. Imagine creatives reading your brief. What must they know in order to begin working? Are any terms unfamiliar or unclear?
  5. Re-read your brief and check for clarity. Can your writing be distilled into a coherent idea? Ensure your thoughts and motives are easy to understand.

Satisfying creative projects stem from clear and thoughtful explanations. Tell me what you include in your writing @redheadlefthand.

Now is the time to think about the Connection Economy — and your role in it (a free workshop)

Seth Godin dubbed the phrase “Connection Economy” to encourage meaningful relationships that inspire art, community efforts, and the pursuit of worthwhile work.

Right now it’s easy to feel stuck. It’s more important than ever before to be kind and present and approach others with consideration and respect.

We live in a moment in which the internet spreads information quickly (for better and for worse). We can use this to our advantage to help each other.

Task 1. Build a group

You want people who can call you out, people who can serve as your cohort and personal sounding board as you make moves (or sit on the coach and try to find a new Netflix series). We all have unique talents and traits to share; a group offers support, accountability, and the ability to help you level up. These people can let you know when you’re on track and nudge you gently should you veer off course.

Whether one other person or four, enlist a few friends. Ask, “Will you try something with me?”

Task 2. Designate a time

Set a day and time and commit. Make the details known.

Everyone is struggling with responsibilities, house work, inner battles. Make each other a priority and respect everyone’s time. You can choose to meet once a week or on Mondays and Fridays, for example.

Task 3. Finalize your reading list

You can find many books online. I’ve listed a few here as suggestions. If you have a book that has been important to you, use that one instead.

Sample list:
Linchpin
Poke the Box workbook
Superconnect
Business Model Generation
E Myth Revisited
4 Hour Work Week
Creatively Independent
Make Your Idea Matter
Host an unforgettable dinner party

Task 4: Put it into practice

The activities are designed to get you out of your comfort zone and reinforce what you’re reading. If you feel inspired to add your own twist, please do. The most important action is to set aside time for writing.

The writing prompts provide creative direction. Use what is helpful and change what isn’t. Not everything works for everyone.

FIRST MEETING

Reading: Bernadette Jiwa’s Make Your Idea Matter
Project: Tear out photos, images, and words from newspapers and magazines. Look for anything that inspires you. Rearrange the clippings onto a new piece of paper.
Writing exercise: Set your alarm for ten minutes and choose one prompt:

  • Imagine your dream life. Write down everything it entails. It doesn’t need to be complete sentences or thoughts, words are fine.
  • Write a series of questions. Every question you can think of. They don’t need to make sense, and you don’t need to have the answers. Just ask.

Group discussion: What is the difference between storytelling and dreaming? Do you set aside time to dream? What are some of the stories you tell yourself about yourself?

SECOND MEETING

Reading: Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week
Project: Do something new. Cook a different recipe. Sign up for an online class. Find a new place to explore using Google Maps.
Writing exercise: If you could do anything, anywhere, what would it be?

Group discussion: How do you define work/life balance? Is a distinction necessary? What helps you set better boundaries between work and home?

THIRD MEETING

Reading: Seth Godin’s Poke the Box workbook
Project: Print out the workbook and try to complete it in thirty minutes.
Writing exercise: Notice areas of hesitation while you complete the workbook. Is a particular topic more challenging than others?

Group discussion: What stops you from shipping? How do you get in your own way?

FOURTH MEETING

Reading: Project Exponential’s Host an unforgettable dinner party
Project: Plan an online dinner party. Get creative.
Writing exercise: Set your alarm for ten minutes. Choose one:

  • What are the traits you admire in others?  What are the traits you’re most proud of in yourself?
  • Assemble an imaginary Dream Team. You get five players. Who do you choose? What skills do they bring to your team?

Group discussion: What kind of people belong on your Dream Team? Who inspires you? Discuss how teams are formed and which environments contribute to their development.

FIFTH MEETING

Reading: Jess Pillmores’s Creatively Independent
Project: Challenge yourself to write the first draft of your very own ebook.
Writing exercise: Consider the uniqueness that you bring to your work, your relationships, and your family. What are the traits that single you out?

Group discussion: How do you stay inspired? What techniques have you found to be helpful during the goal setting process?

SIXTH MEETING

ReadingE Myth Revisited and/or Business Model Generation
Project: Brainstorm how you might turn $10 into $100.
Writing exercise: Write out a sample business plan. What would you do if you had no excuses, no responsibilities? Think back to the days of mowing lawns, selling lemonade, or babysitting.

Group discussion: How would things be different if you set aside time to write, dream, explore, or learn?

Modified from A Free Program posted February 26, 2013.