career, creative process, creativity, GEL conference, innovation, job, travel, work


I’m in Arizona for the ATM, Debit, and Prepaid Conference. Please contain your excitement. There is actually some good information on offer. It’s just packaged up by boring people in boring conference rooms. I’ve been a bit spoiled by innovation conferences like GEL where there are rooms full of fascinating characters. Weird, but fascinating, which is exactly just the right kind of fascinating for me. 

But enough about the conference. I’m really struck by Arizona. And not because it’s “maverick-y” as Tina Fey (or is it Sarah Palin?) would say. As I was driving from the airport, I was reminded of the book Women Who Run with the Wolves. In the introduction, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes talks about how the life in the dessert seems small on the surface and yet is huge underneath. There are intricate root systems and creatures of dazzling diversity that live below ground. There is a whole ecosystem that survives and thrives away from the watch of the human eye. Pinkola-Estes talks about how many people, women in particular, have these huge wells of emotion and thought and concern that exist beyond any other person’s grasp or understanding. 

The beauty of Arizona is stark. It’s another world here, like nothing I have seen or experienced anywhere else. Here, everything feels and looks foreign. My boss was commenting today how the food, the art, the culture, the history, and the landscape are unlike those in any other state. And you might think that sounds a bit odd to be some place so foreign in our own country. Somehow though, in it’s foreign-ness, it’s opened me up to new possibilities, to new ways of seeing everything in a different light than I saw it just yesterday. My stress from the last few days is gone. Anxiety vanished. How did that happen?

I believe in that saying, “So often what’s needed is a change of self and not a change of scene.” But for me, a change of scene provokes a change in me that I desperately need and can’t always ignite in my everyday living patterns. On occasion, our systems need a little shock and travel can do that for us, particularly to a place wholly unfamiliar. I needed to expand my mind to take in the new possibilities that my current tasks are providing. And I needed to get away from my computer screen, even for a little while, and not troll though my usual set of tasks. I guess the universe gave me exactly what I needed exactly at the time I needed it – Arizona.  

career, creativity, job, product, productivity, work

Moving forward from where you are

I’ve been really frustrated as of late by a project I just took over from a colleague. I have been dwelling on the phrase “At the beginning, we should have…” And you know what? It’s not productive. It’s actually counter-productive and it’s wearing me down. I’m sick of hearing myself talk about how frustrated I am. Imagine how my friends and family feel?

I woke up a little yesterday after an email from my mom. My best friend from childhood just lost her 27 year old cousin to cancer. My very dear friend, Ken, just had to put his mom into hospice. I have friends that are losing their jobs thanks to this financial crisis we’re now in, and they don’t know when they’ll be seeing a paycheck again. And I’m whining, literally whining, from my comfy couch in my comfy apartment after a day of work at a great company with a great brand. At the moment, I can’t stand myself. As my friend Kelly says, “I need to give myself a “cut it out.” “

By being so stuck on what other people should have done or should have considered,etc., I’m not moving forward. I’m treading water and quite frankly doing a lousy job of it. Now ,to be fair to myself, as my mother would ask me to be, I want to make sure these learnings are captured and put to good use in the very-near future. Yep, there were definitely mistakes that were made at the start of this project 6 months ago. And we’re paying a big price tag, literally and figuratively. No doubt about it. But I can’t change those mistakes. They’ve been made and we have to go from where we are. I’ve got the project now and no matter what the earlier decisions, I need to keep driving forward, eyes on the prize – which is straight ahead, not in the rearview mirror. 

I find an area that needs improvement, I jot it down, and I keep moving. I have to keep moving. My whining and internal negativity is weighing me down, in a time when I cannot afford the extra mental pounds. I need to get this project out the door so I can move on to other projects where I will be able to start from the beginning and draw on the learnings from this current project. 

We all learn by doing, and in the doing, we screw up now and then. It happens to all of us, regardless of intelligence or experience or motivation. It’s all part of the process, and if you don’t let the process play out, you are doomed to remain in it like a hamster in a wheel. And who wants to keep treading the same ground again and again when there are so many places to see?!