As humans, we always adapt to our routines, as they are comfortable and reliable. We all have a zone of anxiety which when activated, boosts up our performance. It is in this state, our mind can think out of the box and create a steady level of performance. Stepping out of the comfort zone to push ourselves to accomplish the next level is quite hard. But this is not something new to us as humans, in every success story there is are instances where people push themselves to succeed. And also keep in mind that if we push our brain too much it causes anxiety, and too much of anxiety will cause stress and less productivity and creativity. It is our impulse to return to our comfort zone, if things get harder on us. Most of us in reality, be it personal or professional careers; we learn to grow and downside face situations outside our comfort zones and we tend to discourage ourselves and adapt to the ones which we feel is easy. The CEO of IBM – Ginni Rometty has once said “Growth and comfort don’t co-exist. That’s true for people, companies, nations,’. We always feel like we are taken away the crucial and strategical things from our life like – authenticity, competency levels, morality, likability and many more. It is in the Hidden Brain: The Edge Effect podcast, the author talks about the questions human beings in general have. We often question – How people work together apart from the differences we have in ethnicity, creed, caste, language and many other things too? What usually happens when strangers meet and how exactly does that help in sparking the creative thoughts? I tried searching answers for questions like this in my life personally, because as an individual it is easy to understand through experiences than just learning from another person’s life. So, I happened to go through my past and list out the events where I had to walk out of my comfort zone to cross out the odds in my life and make something useful out of it. I remember reading about a poem in my eight grade – “Road not taken” by Robert Frost in 1915, when he first provided the blueprint for the poem. It is said in the poem that “Two roads diverged in a wood and I chose the one less travelled – and that has made all the difference “. The same thing has happened in my life too, I had to choose among the different groups in my Bachelors after my high school and had few options to pick. I had Computer Science, Electronic Science subjects in which I knew many people to guide me through – my family and friends. But I always had my interests in another subject – Civil Engineering. Many advised me not go with that option because it was mostly for boys and men to work, since it would require more strength (literally) and hard work. But I wasn’t ready to give up and I worked hard enough to successfully get my degree in my favorite subject. There were many such situations where I had to step out of my comfort zone to make my wishes come true. In all these cases, I figured something of the other which turned advantageous for me.
I want to mention another most recent experience where I had to completely change and adapt to a new ecosystem. It was when I was moving from India to United States of America, to pursue my Master’s Degree here. It is not that I had to step out of the comfort zone, it is that I had no idea how the culture here would embrace me and how I would get along with other differences. I have air travelled for almost 9000 air miles to a completely different Continent with obviously different time zones. I have observed so many differences of that to my place. If I can list out a few, they would be food, dress, culture, time zone (11 hours 30 minutes difference from here to India), etiquettes, education, religion, weather. I had a shift in all of these attributes, of course we always thrive to search options that can help our growth, I have searched mine. But figuring that I have to take up all of these even before coming to US made things a little complicated. I was always a lazy person, where my parents helped me with everything possibly they could. When I moved in here, I had no one to depend on except for me. Initially, I was scared, that I might end up doing mistakes that would affect my Education and my parents, because they stood with me, against all the odds. I was in a kind of transition zone, where all things seemed new to me. As I have mentioned a list above, like all the differences, which resulted in an odd kind of feeling (maybe I can say that I was far gone from my comfort zone). I had this fear of making new mistakes, which might cost me more than just the money and time but also the courage to step out of my safe zone and fail myself is shaping my personality based on my mistakes. I have got an opportunity to see the means to success just in front of me and how I could get the best out of it, to make my life creative. I always had this feeling that people here could not understand my accent for some reason, and that I might face some difficulties, but once I started talking with people around me that made me comfortable. With this being my first step, I understood that a person must know of their true potential qualities. When we think of creativity, we see so many changes around us happening, in like just the blink of an eye. However, creativity has been valued through ages, and why do you think creativity matters? For instance, consider the great arts by painters like Pablo, Picasso that were valued that high. It is not the oil paints or brushes that are expensive, it is the innovation and creativity in their vision that attracted people in buying the paintings and made them antiques. So more or less, creativity has got its ways to have the impact on the things happening across the globe. In my case, I used my creativity and experiences to adapt to the new atmosphere around me and I can successfully say that I have made friends here, who are ready to help me and also my professors too to support me in my career. I have had enough experiences over here that has helped me mold myself to the person I am today. I feel I have the courage to understand the spin of situations around me and act according to it. I am confident enough that I can talk to people and get the answers I need. And also, that I will graduate with my Master’s degree and will do the best I can for my personal life and the professional career too.
This part of the paper reflects mostly about motivation and its impact on humans, both personally and professionally. The author from The Eureka Factor (Beeman, 2015) , talks about being motivated and how that helps people know their next step in future. This is the place where a person cannot be selfish, sharing insights with the other person and help them in achieving success through your motivation gives you immense joy and satisfaction and I can proudly say that from my own personal experiences. In this particular book, the author, talks about different types of motivation and how they influence the environment. Also, different stories which explain them even better. The different types of motivation – Being specific on the objects what you need, Emphasis on individual aspect, which is again classified to two more- prevention and promotion. On reading the examples given in the book to explain the insights of creativity and motivation, I remember a few which my mother spoke about. It reminds me of my mother narrating a story, where a man with two horses travelling come across another person. And then the first person wanted to take rest and got to know that he has got only one rope, with which he can tie only one horse. Then, the second person advises this first person to tie one horse with a rope and make sure that second horse sees it too and then act like he has tied the second one too (but no rope). And to the man’s surprise, the second horse also behaved like it was tied. The lesson that my mother tried to explain me was, looking at things around us, we confine ourselves in doing it the way something already is. That is exactly what the author in the book talks about – functional fixedness. We have been talking about this since the beginning of this class and how this impacts the creativity in us and how we constraint ourselves in our brains and fail to do the best for us. When it comes to my personal and professional life, I think there is always a conflict between what my brain wants and what my heart wants, and there lies all the difference. I would consider motivation as something which pushes me on the urge of fighting that war. I always had and have this feeling of standing out of everybody, at the start I didn’t know how this is going to happen but I always knew that I will develop the courage to make this true. It was my parents who always had my back and advised me in everything I did. Every human needs some kind of motivation to succeed in their life, be it small or big. It was my parent’s financial conditions that made me realize that days do not stay the same and how they fought against those odds, always made me feel that I should always work hard and should always take care of my parents. Till today, I have never stopped thinking of this and always wanted to do my best to make my parents proud. And this is not the only aspect that motivates me, I always thrive to protect the environment as a Civil Engineer. Since the beginning I always spoke about how I can do my part of saving the environment. For this to come true, I will have to work hard in my studies so that I can be in a position where I can make an impactful difference in the society. A small incident reflected while I was writing this point, in my childhood (6th grade), whenever I found trash, I used to pick it and put in the side pocket of my bag to throw that away later, so people used to taunt me for that. In some way that trait has amplified over time. There are always different kinds of motivations, it need not be about success in professional life every time. I never used to cook back there in India (except for stuff like boiling eggs, cooking rice), but when I moved here I started cooking almost everything in my home which made realize that things do not stay the same and they change over time. This is what happens when I compare to things that motivated me 10 years ago and now. I am 24 years old now, so when I think of things that motivated me there a quite a huge number of differences. 10 years back from today, probably I was more into sports because that was my profession at the that time. It was mostly school and practice, so I had different set of motivation when it comes to sports. So, motivation depends on what we want to see and do rather than defining it on standard basis. Often, motivating a single person is different from motivating a group of people. The group dynamic keeps changing and the methods adapted to motivate them also need to be changed with time and situation. Creating a friendly work environment is a starting point to get people open up. This helps them to come together as a team and pool up their ideas. Constructive criticism and a healthy competitive spirit are often seen in negative light but delivered in a right way, help in improving the quality of the work done by the employees. Setting up flexible deadlines with ample time for brainstorming, is also a key way to motivate people, to put their maximum effort to work. Welcome all the ideas, praise and critique whenever needed. Find out what motivates the team by organizing workshops, to give a refresher on the workplace etiquette. It can be done by asking simple questions like “what makes them get out of their bed?” and figure out the ways to improve their skills and motivate them based on their responses.
When it comes to a question like does deadlines hinder or enhance creativity? I would prefer to say that deadlines help to draw outlines for the work to be done. Having a deadline for major part of work like completion of project or quarterly meetings will be beneficial to achieve goals. They build confidence and inculcate the sense of punctuality in work environment. But setting deadlines does not tip in favor of improving creativity in work. With the project end time hanging like a shadow over the employees, it will turn work into race rather than being productive and creative. Most of the times, employees tend to reach the deadline and get done with the work without thinking about the quality of work. It might start “good enough” attitude in the employees which will move them away from going through their work and making relevant changes to make it better. This will undermine the quality of work done at the workplace.
- The Road Not Taken, poem by Robert Frost, published in The Atlantic Monthly in August 1915