Before I started my consultancy, I was a professional creativity instigator.
In other words, I helped people get creatively unstuck.
I know what it’s like to be paralyzed by perfectionism, silenced by those inner critic “gremlin” voices that tell you “you’ll never be good enough, so why bother trying?”
I let those gremlins drive the bus for way too long in my own life, and I can’t stand seeing other people suffer the way I did!
One of the things that helped me unhook from perfectionism was moving away from the kind of work I used to do as an artist (very meticulous, heavily designed, detail-oriented, pre-planned), and instead working improvisationally.
If I was improvising, I didn’t have a model, or idea in my head that I was trying to match and live up to with my work, so it was harder for those gremlin voices to attack my work for falling short. There was simply nothing for them to latch onto.
It’s easier to take a risk when you know you won’t be beaten up for it.
Of course, in that case, I was the one doing (and receiving) the beating.
What about your teams?
How do we get people to take creative risks? How do we get people to lean into uncertainty?
Even with high psychological safety (which is absolutely necessary), risk-taking is scary. After all, we’ve been trained from childhood to get it right, to do things well.
And yet, so much of innovation is iteration. Rarely is an idea perfect right out of the gate.
In other words, if we want to create something awesome, we have to let ourselves suck first, in order to learn how to unsuck.
On the road to the best, most innovative products and services, we cannot let perfect be the enemy of done; we have to be open to mistakes, misfires, and failures.
But letting ourselves make mistakes, letting ourselves suck at something, does not come easily to most of us! Oddly enough, it’s actually a skill that has to be practiced.
The good news is that we can strengthen this metaphorical muscle. We can learn how to get back to that state of enjoying not being an expert, just like we did when we were four years old.
One of my favorite activities for helping people to get over their own internal blocks is called Move/Stop or Walk/Stop. I led a bunch of mangers at Google through this activity just last week during a virtual recess.
It goes like this: When I say “Move,” you move. When I say “Stop,” you stop.
Easy enough, right?
But then after a few rounds of that, “Move” means stop, and “Stop,” means move.
Still fairly easy, until I start adding more rules.
“Name” means you call out your first name. “Clap” means you clap once. (“Move” still means stop; “Stop” still means move.”
And then, you guessed it, “Clap” means name; “Name” means clap.
Then I add “Twist” and “Jump,” which mean what you’d expect them to mean, and swap those after a few rounds, and everyone’s laughing as their brains are frying.
Which is, of course, the point.
That, along with the juicy debrief that always follows.
I love this activity, because in about five or six minutes you can:
- Loosen people up
- Clear everyone’s heads
- Get everyone laughing
- Debrief on:
- Dealing with change
- Dealing with confusion
- Not working about mistakes
- Relying on teammates
- Improvement during each section of the game
- Anything else you want to connect the activity to
Ultimately, mistakes are only a big deal if we make them so. Move/Stop is a great way to emphasize that mistakes are common and not a big deal.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!
Interested to learn more? Message me to chat about how I can use my signature system to help your employees infuse connection, joy and delight into virtual meetings, trainings and events at your workplace.
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