The Kernel of Creativity

We use the word a lot, but what exactly is creativity?  It seems like everyone wants more of it from ourselves and our colleagues, but it is not like a faucet that can be turned on at will.  David Allen used a recent blog post to ponder the subject:

“The time and energy required for creating something goes through a cycle, one that is seldom as easy or as immediately evident and as clear as I would like to imagine it is. … I still don’t know much intellectually about the nature of that creative process. What is the underlying principle at work here? Why do we seem to have to work so hard to get the kernel? And my interest in productivity causes me to ask how I can get to it faster, easier, more effectively, with less mess and the frustrations that often accompany it.”

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While reading David Allen’s post, I was reminded of an article from David Perell.  He explored the topic in a post called, The Magic Moment.  In the article he brought up the idea of inspiration.

“The Magic Moment is a moment where you have the freedom to create without the demands of publishing. You can’t predict a Magic Moment. They’re spawned by long periods of incubation, but they strike when the mind is at rest. They’re likely to come when you’re showering, driving, or exercising because that’s when the mind is at rest and you can finally hear yourself think. Like a surfer in the ocean, when a special wave swells up, you have to catch it and ride it to shore.”

Creativity is a large and fascinating topic.   I challenge you to think about your relationship with creativity?  When is it easiest for you to be creative?  When it is hardest?  Finally, what do you do when the moment of inspiration strikes?

 

Malcolm Gladwell – The Fascinatingly Flawed Intellectual

I’m interested in collecting interesting stories, and … collecting interesting research. What I’m looking for is cases where they overlap.

Malcolm_Gladwell_2014_(cropped)I love reading and listening to the works of Malcolm Gladwell.  Perhaps it is because he is an unabashed intellectual who makes his work accessible to all.  It could be that his flair for storytelling keeps me engaged to the very end.  It could even be that we both grew up in Canada!

For my recent Write of Passage assignment, I decided to provide a condensed look at Malcolm Gladwell’s books and share how his ideas may sometimes be wrong, but are always thought provoking.  For example, here is the start of the quick summary for his book Outliers.

“Why do some people skyrocket to success while most others barely get off the ground?  In this book, Gladwell explores an unseen side of success. While the American Dream narrative relates success to hard work and indomitable spirit, Gladwell spends time highlighting how uncontrollable factors such as the month of your birth, fortuitous family relations, and cultural heritage may be more significant.”

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Let’s Be Frank – Leadership Is Not For Everyone

Do you think anyone can be a leader?

A trend I see across leadership courses and books is the assumption that anyone can become a leader if they want to be one.  I concede that everyone should at least be good enough to lead their own lives.  However, leading other people is a skill that perhaps some people will never master.

For the next assignment in the Write of Passage course, we were asked to write an article that challenged conventional wisdom.  So I decided to take on what I consider a flawed  core assumption of many leadership courses.  As I wrote:

“The core flawed assumption may best be expressed with a quote from John Maxwell:

“If you want to be a leader, the good news is that you can do it. Everyone has the potential, but it isn’t accomplished overnight. It requires perseverance.” John C. Maxwell

My two questions are these: Why do we assume that everyone can be a leader?  Also, why are the psychological burdens of leadership rarely discussed?”

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Read the rest of the article here, and feel free to share your thoughts on the topic in the comment section.

Criticize with CRIBS

Have you ever been asked to edit someone’s written work?  For most of us, it is hard to provide constructive feedback to a writer beyond noting spelling errors or grammatical issues.  However, what every writer needs to be successful is honest criticism and sharp editting that can push their writing to the next level.

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I am taking an online course called Write of Passage, and in the last class the instructor David Perell, shared a simple approach that anyone can use to provide quick, helpful criticism.  It is titled with the acronym of CRIBS. As an editor moves through a written piece, they use the following five items to provide useful feedback:

  • Confusing – The section reviewed doesn’t make much sense
  • Repeated – The information was shared earlier and nothing much was added this time
  • Insightful – This section provided valuable, engaging information
  • Boring – This section doesn’t hold the reader’s attention
  • Surprising – The information was unexpected and thought provoking

I’m going to use CRIBS myself in the future whenever I am asked to edit someone’s work.  I invite you to try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Why the Internet Will Never Replace the Public Library

stackswithlightAs a librarian, I am sometimes asked why we still have public libraries.  Those who ask the question assume the Internet has made libraries obsolete, and besides, they believe no one goes to them anymore anyway.  After resting the urge to slap them, I quickly set about correcting the error of their ways and share why libraries matter as much today as at anytime in their history.

In a new article I set out to dispel the myths and shed light on the role of the modern library.  For example, in the except below I discuss how libraries are vital to our educational system:

“So how does a public library contribute to a strong community?  Primarily, public libraries are one of the three pillars of education in our society.  Alongside schools and colleges, libraries provide educational opportunities for residents and compliment the curriculum of the other two institutions.  However, public libraries have a key difference from schools and colleges, in that they are open to all. Whereas children age out of the school system and colleges may only be a 2-6-year long experience, public libraries provide services from cradle to grave.  They are also one of the few places in our society that embrace the democratic principles of openness and equality. No one is turned away from the public library and its resources are typically free to its residents. Income and background are irrelevant to obtaining a library card.”

Read the rest of the article on my site.

 

The Efficient Librarian on the Library Leadership Podcast

I am pleased to share that my interview about Efficient Librarianship is now available on the Library Leadership Podcast.

Hosted by Adriane Herrick Juarez, the Executive Director of the Park City Library in Utah, she invites notable library leaders on to her show to discuss a wide range of topics.  Some of her prior guests, Lance Warner, Felton Thomas, and Peter Bromberg,  are library leaders who participated in my recent article Go For It! Advice From Library Directors.  Adriane has also interviewed two ALA Presidents, Jim Neal and Loida Garcia-Febo.  Here is the teaser to the interview:

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“As information professionals, we have a lot coming at us. Is it possible to keep up with the rapid-fire pace and stay stress free? According to today’s guest, it is. Doug Crane is the Director of the Palm Beach County Library System. He has a blog called the Efficient Librarian and teaches workshops and webinars on this topic.

“He explains how to organize our workflow systems, develop our personal knowledge management structures, take effective action-steps for success, and even have an email inbox that is empty at the end of each day. By tuning in, you will get simple steps to make all of this efficiency a reality.”

List to the whole interview at Library Leadership Podcast or download it to your favorite podcast app.  Please provide comment and feedback.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Taming Unproductive Habits

Have you thought about your habits recently?

A habit is the name given to an action that we repeat on a regular basis.  Most habits are mundane, such as the steps done in the morning before heading out the door for work.  Others can be self defeating or destructive.  Charles Duhigg wrote the definitive book on the habits in in 2012, which included steps on how to start and change habits.

Recently Darius Foroux wrote an article for Pocket that examined unproductive habits.  This is because he says “The reason I study productivity is because I’m an unproductive person. I truly am.”  In the article he identifies 11 unproductive habits to quit.  Some of them are familiar to those who study GTD, such as:

“Relying On Your Memory
Not writing down your thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc, is insane. Why? Because you’re wasting a lot of brain power when you rely on your memory. When you write everything down, you can use your brainpower for other things. Like solving problems. That’s actually useful and advances your career.”

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Other unproductive habits include overworking, worrying and complainingExplore these and the rest and then see which ones you want to quit.