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Are You A Boss Or A Leader? And One Is Definitely Better Than The Other

Are You A Boss Or A Leader? And One Is Definitely Better Than The Other

You’ve nursed your dream along slowly, patiently with equal parts of blood, sweat and tears. And now it’s starting to blossom and grow. People are noticing you, your business is growing. You’ve gone from a one-man show to hiring employees.  Congratulations. Take a moment and smile and thank everyone for their support and commitment. But only a moment. Then it’s back to work.

Now you have a decision to make: Are you going to be a boss or a leader?

And I hear you saying,“What is the difference?”

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The difference is, in a word, huge.

A leader is in the middle of it all

The difference can be summed up in a meme that is popping up all over the place these days: A boss tells you what to do, and a leader is out there with the people leading the way. To be sure, there are times when a leader has to do some telling, or be a boss, but a leader never makes that his/her main way of directing or leading.

The boss stands apart from people not with them. Sometimes it is necessary to stand apart for a few moments to take a breather (momentary) and look at the big picture. But after the breather, the leader jumps back in and is back in their shoulder to shoulder, and elbow to elbow with everyone else.

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One time, Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) went to visit one of his stores in Florida that had planned a special event.Upon arriving he found an electrical storm had disabled all the cash registers in the store, leaving the customers stranded in long lines as the cashiers had to do everything by hand. Upon seeing the growing lines, Walton grabbed a pencil and a pad of paper and began working his way through the lines tallying up each person’s purchase (and rounding down to the customer’s advantage). (Self-Made in America.  John McCormack with David Legge.  1990.  Addison Wesley.  Pages 127-128)

Struggling school teacher Ruth Fertel bought the famous New Orleans steakhouse, Chris’s Steakhouse (later to become Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, but that’s another story) and spent a decade working alongside her employees, saying, “I thought my employees would respect me more if I worked right alongside them, so I did.” (When God Winks at You.  SQUire Rushnell.  2006.  W Publishing Group.  Page 128)

Working with and leading your employees will give you not only a better vision of where you’re taking your own dream, but also a vision of life in the trenches of your own company/enterprise/dream. And both those visions will make things better for everyone, if you’re able to retain your humility and understanding.

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What makes a good leader?

A Google search will reveal a whole host of lists of characteristics that differentiate leaders from bosses. Some of those include listening to their employees and valuing their employees; leaders don’t’ command/tell, they lead. Leading by example is the best way because the people actually see what it is that needs to be done, and can learn from you as they work next to you.

Leaders lead and learn simultaneously. They have the idea and vision of where to take things, and so they must lead, out there in the front blazing the path. But as they do that, they also share with everyone else, their vision and excite them about it. At the same time, they recognize they don’t know everything, and they are smart enough to know when to keep their mouths shut and listen and learn from someone else, even if that person is the lowest person on the totem pole. A leader knows that everyone is smarter than him/her in at least one area, and they are willing to learn from others. Leaders also motivate; they don’t use fear to move their people.  Fear only works as long as someone is there with the gun, the stick, whatever the fear factor is. Motivating with vision gets down inside people and stays long after the boss has left the building.

The servant-leader

The next step up the ladder is the servant-leader.

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Besides just being out there working shoulder to shoulder with their employees, the servant-leader does their level best to make sure the employees—and therefore also the clients/customers—are being served. Is this job helping this person (or my people) grow and become better?  Is this company serving its employees in the best way possible? Are we serving the community in the best way possible?

If the servant-leader believes an employee will do better in another job they will help their employee find something better, be it in their own company or elsewhere. They encourage their people to educate themselves not only in the things of their business, but personally, recognizing that education opens more doors and possibilities to their employees.  But they don’t hesitate to lower the boom when necessary.

The question is what kind of leader will you be?

Featured photo credit: Emma Frances Logan Barker via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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