In his book 59 Seconds psychologist Richard Wiseman evaluated research on how to maximize our time to bring about the desired results that we want in our lives. He examined everything from creativity, to success, and happiness. When researching creativity Wiseman found that our environment and emotional feelings toward our environment played a large role in our creativity. Wiseman writes, “When people feel worried, they become very focused, concentrate on the task at hand, become risk-averse, rely on well-established habits and routines, and see the world through less-creative eyes. In contrast when people feel at ease in a situation, they’re more likely to explore new and unusual ways of thinking and behaving, see the bigger picture, take risks, and think and act more creatively.”
I think this is a powerful section from Wiseman and one that I wish I could share with every business leader. Encouraging employees to be more creative and push for new ideas can help a company grow and succeed, but many employers don’t give their employees a chance to be creative, and they expect them to be in simple boxes where their routine is set and their actions are limited. Focusing on your employees environment and attitude can help an employer create a place where employees are more at ease and able to think more creatively to build better habits and produce better results. I am currently reading Return on Character by Fred Kiel, and the thesis of his work is that leaders and CEO’s who focus on building an organization focused around integrity, honesty, and forgiveness provide greater returns for their companies, employees, and stakeholders. When we consider Wiseman’s quote about people becoming more creative in relaxed environments, we can see how Kiel’s CEO’s who create those environments become more successful. By maintaining a strong moral character a CEO can create a space where employees feel welcomed to perform their best and are not restricted in their actions and approaches to greatness.
However, I am afraid that sharing this quote with every business leader could backfire. Those employers who do not see their employees as being in creative positions may read that quote and think that they can put their employees under pressure to have them focus better on the single task at hand as opposed to being distracted by the people and environment around them. The quote could be read to suggest that developing well established habits and putting employees into risk-averse mindsets may be useful for employees who work specific and routine jobs. This idea falls flat when you think about wanting to be a company that excels, with employees that excel at every position, especially if that employee performs any sort of customer service function. Encouraging the creativity of employees by helping them fee comfortable and relaxed at work will lead to better results when employees are free to be creative and break away from ordinary habits. When they are worried they will not risk trying something new in their daily routine and will never develop a habit that could drastically improve the quality of the work they produce.
In the end, I think we need to try and understand creativity as being something that we all have access to. Wiseman’s quote shows that building supportive environments and bing at ease helps people become more creative. Those who deal with a high amount of anxiety tend to display a less creative vision and provide less innovation.