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Skill #7 Opportunity Management

Skill #7 Opportunity Management

 

Managing opportunities is critical to your success in the new economy.

News Flash! The world economy is reshaping itself in ways unimaginable today. Futurist Tom Frey estimates 47% of today’s existing jobs will be gone by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). Further, a study by Forbes magazine ( http://bit.ly/2xkEfmi ) estimates that by the year 2020 fifty percent of the US labor force will be freelancers. This number will continue to rise as existing jobs disappear over the next decade.
 
This means if you are reading this post and you are currently working for someone else, there is roughly a 1 in 2 chance you will become a freelancer by the year 2030. (Full disclosure, I became a Freelancer in 2014.)
 

What’s the difference?

 
As an employee, you typically go to work each day, perform one or two functions, and then go home. As a freelancer, you become part of what is known as the “gig” economy. You may be performing the same function, but you will be doing it for many different companies.
 
Add to that, the fact that most of us are good at doing more than one thing. You will find yourself marketing those different talents to entirely different target prospects. This is where opportunity management comes into play.
 

Marketing to a different audience

 
I will use myself as an example. I am basically a writer. It’s what I love above everything else. If I worked for a marketing firm, I might spend my entire day writing sales letters for product mailers.
 
Writing as a freelancer is a much different process. I may write for any of the following projects:
1. Web pages
2. Blog posts.
3. Whitepapers
4. Case studies
5. Edit books
6. Ghostwrite books.
 
As you can see, the clients that use these services may differ widely. So, one of my challenges is to figure out how to market my services to these different audiences.
 
As it turns out, I also happen to be a good teacher. So in addition to writing, I also conduct community interest workshops at my local junior college.
 

Beginning to get the idea?

 
As a freelancer, one of your continuing challenges is finding enough work. This is what opportunity management is all about. You find yourself always thinking about ways to introduce your self to potential prospects and clients. You also keep looking for new ideas for different types of services you can offer.
 
One of the essentials of being a successful freelancer is to be able to develop multiple streams of income. Some of these will be active, and some will be passive. A good example of passive income would be writing and publishing a book. The work necessary to write and publish a book is a one-time event, but the income from the sales of the book could stretch over many years.
 

Opportunity management is the key

 
You’ve heard the old saying “Jack of all trades master of none”? Well, as a freelancer, you need to be a master of one or two trades, and very good at three or four more. But being alert and always trying new things, will be one of the main factors in your ability to succeed in the gig economy. Start making your list today.
Skill #6 Information Management

Skill #6 Information Management

 

Do you feel like you’re drowning?

 
I do. Look at all the stuff that is coming at us. Cable news channels, blogs, podcasts, emails, text messages, Instagram, and on, and on. Thomas Frey in the post on future skills you will need ( http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ) cites a study done by UC San Diego. That study showed in 2008 the average American spent 11.8 hours a day gathering information. The study also stated that number was increasing at approximately 2.6% each year. Fast forward to 2018. If those numbers are accurate, we now spend 15.25 hours per day gathering information.
 
Really? 15 hours a day? That hardly leaves time to eat, sleep, or work. It sure doesn’t leave any time for play. Worse yet, a Temple University study ( http://bit.ly/2qcbl6x ) shows once your brain gets overloaded with incoming information, your pre-frontal cortex shuts down. When that happens, you are robbed of the ability to make rational decisions.
 

This is important because…?

 
In that same post ( http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ), Frey also states, “Our ability to manage our personal information inputs and outputs will greatly determine our ability to compete in the global marketplace of the future.
 

You can’t ignore this

 
This isn’t going to get better. Current estimates are the entire body of human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. IBM estimates that in a few years, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, human knowledge will double every 12 minutes. There is simply no way any of us can keep up.
 
This means you must actively decide what areas you want to be informed about. What do you need to know? You are going to have to choose. Once you pick those areas, what sources do you trust? How deep do you want to go? Don’t forget to pick some sources that will allow you to see some differing opinions. Like it or not, every information source will have some bias built in. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you recognize it. Build in some balance.
 

Your Biggest challenge

 
In the very near future, gathering information is going to be like trying to drink from a 3-inch firehose. You are going to be forced to decide how much time you are going to allow for this activity. You will also need to be very selective in what sources you use. The current estimate is that by 2020, a short 2 years from now, 50% of the US Labor Force will be Freelancers. That number will go much higher as robots and software technology continue destroying existing jobs. What will you do when your job goes away?
 
Start today to build superior knowledge in your area of expertise. Decide how much time you will devote each day to gathering and disseminating information in your particular niche. Cut out the crap. We all have the same 86,400 seconds in each day. It’s how you decide to spend them that counts.
Skill #5 Privacy Management

Skill #5 Privacy Management

Is Privacy Management Even Possible?

 

In my last post (http://bit.ly/2DuPEDY ) I talked about what you need to do to manage your reputation. Reputation management by its very definition involves a lot of transparency. Putting yourself out there for all to see to further your career. Privacy Management is at the opposite end of that same spectrum.
 
You may wonder in this day of social media if it’s even possible to have any privacy. Businesses today are investing in sophisticated technologies collecting as much information as they can about customers and prospects in order to market their products and services to them. Have you ever searched for a product online and then noticed pop-up ads for that same product showing up on websites you visit? And there is a dark side to this as well. Online scammers can use this information to attempt to exploit you and put you at financial risk.
 
Thomas Frey, in his post on 12 skills needed for the future (http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ) argues “The free flow of personal information that respects privacy will do just the opposite, fuel and cultivate innovation.” Yet currently, this legal framework for determining what is private and what isn’t does not exist.

Isn’t Privacy Our Right?

 
We do have a right to privacy in this country. We used to assume everything was private unless we chose to reveal it. Today that assumption has been turned around. Now, you must decide in advance what you want to keep private, and then take steps to do so.
Unfortunately, most of us never even give this a thought. We just go ahead and merrily tweet away, or post things on Facebook without ever thinking about the consequences. Think those Facebook posts don’t matter? Guess where divorce lawyers go to dig up dirt for their clients? Guess where employers go to check out people they are thinking about hiring? Guess where colleges go to check out prospective students.
I teach classes on blogging at our local community college. One thing I try to impress on my students is to never, ever, put anything online you are not prepared to see on the front page, above the fold, of the New York Times tomorrow morning. And once you post it, it’s out there. Even if you try to delete it, it can be found by someone. This includes emails. Once you hit “send” you have no control over where that message will wind up. How many crises have started when someone made a derogatory or untrue comment and then hit “reply to all” by mistake.
 

Not to be paranoid, but…?

 
Whom do you confide in? Do you trust them? Before the days of social media, confidences could only be betrayed by word of mouth. Now, they can be spread across the internet tomorrow. Remember the old saying, “The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.” I’m not advocating murder here. We all need friends and confidants with whom we can talk things over and get advice we can trust. What I am saying is be careful. Those relationships are built over long periods of time, not overnight or over a few extra drinks. The old World War II saying was “Loose lips sink ships.” All you have to do is read the headlines to know it’s still true today.
 

In Conclusion

 
In these days of social media, you must be aware of how and what you communicate with others. Whether you know it or not, you have an online persona. You must guard it with your life and treasure. Tomorrow you will be hired or fired, followed or unfollowed, adored or disparaged by what is found about you online. Be careful what you post. One of my favorite sayings comes from Abraham Lincoln. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”
Skill #4 Reputation Management

Skill #4 Reputation Management

 

Why should you be interested in something like reputation management? Well, like it or not, you already have an online reputation. Don’t believe me? Jump online and Google your name and see what comes up.
 

This is important because?

 
In this digital age, how you appear to the rest of the world can have a huge impact on your ability to make a living.
 
Current estimates are by the year 2020, 50% of the US workforce will be Freelancers or independent contractors (http://bit.ly/2xkEfmi ). Further, futurist Thomas Frey, predicts 47% of existing jobs will disappear by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). This means there is a 1 out of 2 chance you will be changing careers in the next 12 years. Where do you think employers go to check out people they are going to hire
 
Consider these statistics from one of Frey’s recent posts (http://bit.ly/2yFqvos )
  •  “80% of divorce lawyers use Facebook to find evidence.
  • 65% of recruiters frown on job seekers who frequently use profanity in social media.
  • 68% of hiring managers have decided to hire a candidate because of something they saw on social media.”

My point is simple. If you know people are going to check you out online, shouldn’t you try to put your best foot forward?

 

Personal Branding

 
Reputation management can also be called personal branding. It began to rise in popularity among corporate executives in the early 2000’s. As more and more people become Freelancers, they are discovering the importance of promoting themselves as a brand. In the new gig economy, you are responsible for directing your own career. Social media gives you the opportunity to do just that.
 

So, How do I do it?

 
If you are a Freelancer (or are thinking about becoming one), the first thing you have to realize is you are the product. So, ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?”
 
Consider the following:
  • What is your area of expertise?
  • Who do you want to work for? (Your target audience)
  • What type of projects are you interested in?

Once you have answered those questions, you can begin to tell your story. Yes, you have a story. When you go to work for your clients as a Freelancer, you have a unique promise of value you’re going to deliver. That’s what you need to communicate.

 

The Story of You

 
There many channels available to tell your story. Here’s a list of the most popular:
  • FaceBook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Blog Posting
Depending on which one (or more) of these you choose will depend on your target audience.
 
If you intend to become a recognized expert in your chosen field, blog posting is an excellent way to promote yourself. Blogs come in many varieties and range from free to relatively inexpensive. You can also publish blog posts in a range of other social media platforms using a media manager such as HootSuite.
 
Facebook is another way for you to reach your target audience. FaceBook started out as a way for people to stay in touch with one another. Now it has morphed into a platform you can use to inform and entertain your target audience. A word of caution here. There is a lot of trash on Facebook. You will need to monitor your account daily to remove any questionable posts that may pop up.
 
In my opinion, LinkedIn is the best channel for connecting with other professionals. LinkedIn is based on the idea that by connecting with friends (1st Level) you also have access to friends of friends (2nd Level). You can also join groups with subscribers of similar interests. For instance, I belong to a group called the Personal Branding Network that has over 19,000 members. Now there’s a great target audience.
 
Twitter is also a great way to connect with a target audience. You can also use it to send links to your blog posts, Facebook and LinkedIn posts.
 

In Conclusion

 
Telling the “Story of You” is growing in importance and will continue to grow over the years. Positive management of the way you appear in the online world will be critical to your success. One more thing you need to do is to be consistent. Keep your communications and posts on message for your area of expertise. For instance, if you are an accountant, stick to articles about accounting. Don’t wander off with articles about growing orchids.
 
Above all, start today to manage your personal brand online. Choose how you are going to tell your story. Do it well, and you will reap huge rewards in the future.
 
P.S. I am starting a new website that will teach people about personal branding. If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let me know by posting a comment on this post.
Skill #2 Emerging Skills Management

Skill #2 Emerging Skills Management

 

Here is an interesting question. How can you learn the skills for a job that hasn’t been invented?

 

Why would I need to do that?

 

Here’s why. Futurist Thomas Frey estimates 47% of today’s existing jobs will disappear by the year 2030 (http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). What that means for you is there is a roughly 50-50 chance the job you’re in today will be gone.

When it happens you will face 2 choices:
1. Be pushed aside into a lower paying job well below your skill level.
2. Become expert at skills required in this new economy, and hire yourself out as a Freelancer.

Your challenge today is you can’t afford to wait until your job disappears. When your job goes, it won’t just disappear from the company you work for; it will be gone from the economy. Without a developed skill needed in the new economy, you will fall into category one. And, there you will stay until you acquire those new skills.

 

Won’t there be new jobs coming along?

 

Yes, but…right now, no one knows what they are. Here’s what we do know now.

Robots and improved software technology are replacing people at an ever increasing pace. Robots and software can do predictable, repetitive tasks very quickly, 24 hours a day. What robots can’t do is think. The new jobs coming along will be those that require human judgment.

 

Your Challenge Today.

 

Start thinking today about what you want to do when your present job disappears. Do you want to stay in the same industry? Do you want to do something entirely new? Do you want to be a Freelancer in some area you’ve always been passionate about?

Start thinking about jobs in that field that need some of the following skills:
1. People management
2. Complex Problem Solving
3. Creativity
4. Coordinating with others.
5. Emotional Intelligence.
6. Service Orientation

Get wild here. Use your imagination. Perhaps you can repair robots or find hiccups in software programs. Maybe you could be someone who helps decide what functions could be automated.

It doesn’t have to be that technical. You could become a Freelance journalist, or a copywriter, or an author.

My point here is that whatever you choose, you need to start your education today. Read books. Take courses online. Go to college at night. Do whatever it takes to be ready when the pink slip comes.

The New Reality

 

Here is an inconvenient truth about the economy of the 4th Industrial Revolution. We all must become lifelong learners. Human knowledge is doubling every 13 months and that time frame is getting shorter and shorter. Our education system can’t keep up. So, we are going to have to do it on our own. Here is the good news. Learning new stuff is a lot of fun.

Choose something to learn about. Start now. Then, you’ll be ready to move up and on when the big day comes.

Skill #1 – Distraction Management

Skill #1 – Distraction Management

Thomas Frey in his latest blog ( http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ) states that distraction management is one the 12 personal skills you will need in the future to be successful.  Really?  How did something like distraction management get to be such a big issue?

What has technology done to us?

 

In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone.  This was the first “smart” phone capable of carrying applications other than just phone calls and voice mail.  At the time, it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  Now it seems to have grown into a many-headed, uncontrollable monster.

Smartphones now deliver text messages, email, twitter feeds, Instagram messages, video streams, and instant news updates.  Phone calls and voice mail now are a minor part of the service.

 

Why is this a bad thing?

 

Turns out we are paying more attention to our smartphones and other electronic devices than is good for us.  Frey, in his blog post says, “The average smartphone user checks their phone over 220 times a day.” In addition, “The average Millennial exchanges 67 texts a day. It takes 90 minutes to respond to email, most will respond to a text in less than 90 seconds.”

Here’s another quote from Frey, “An average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes a day perusing these networks.”

What this all adds up to is a state of constant interruption throughout our day.   And…when we are constantly interrupted, our productivity declines. Drastically!

 

But, I’m a Great Multitasker

 

Well…maybe not.  It turns out multitasking is actually bad for you.  I wrote a blog on this some time back ( http://bit.ly/2iSvhoj  ).  In it, I cited studies showing multitasking decreases your productivity by around 40%.  This means it takes much longer for you to complete each individual task.

Further, studies show multitasking increases stress and increases the chances you will make a mistake.  Added to that, it turns out once you’re interrupted it will take about 25 minutes to return to your original task.  http://nyti.ms/2AbTdu6   Talk about ways to waste your day.

 

So, How Can I Fix This?

 

Slow down.  I know this sounds counter-intuitive.  But, if you slow down and concentrate on one task at time, you will actually complete the task faster with fewer mistakes.  Doing this will also increase your productivity because you will complete more tasks in a day,

Couple this with planning your day to control distractions.  Here’s a good list to start with:

  1. Turn off your cell phone. Or, at least, put it on “do not disturb” and stick it in a drawer.  Most calls don’t have to be answered right away.  Set aside time to return calls twice a day.  The same goes for text messages.
  2. Only read emails once or twice a day.  Set aside time to read and respond.
  3. Shut down your internet browser.  Again, pick times to review social media and news sources.
  4. If you are in an environment where there are other people around, find some soothing instrumental music to listen to with earbuds.  Baroque classical or a program that promotes relaxing alpha waves is best.  This shuts out background noise.  Also, if others see you listening to something, it discourages them from interrupting you.

 

In Conclusion

 

These time-consuming distractions will only get worse in the coming months and years.  If you want to increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels, you have to start now to take control of your day and your workflow.

 

Why Should Work be “Work?”

Why Should Work be “Work?”

I personally believe we have the wrong idea about work. There is a popular concept in this country that “work” is supposed to be something you do to earn money, sustain yourself, support your family, do for a long time, and then retire to a life of leisure. In short, work is a lot of things, but it’s not fun.
 

This Has to Change

 
In my recent series of posts, I discussed why Freelancing is the job of the future. (  http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ). In that post, I listed the 10 skills you will need if you are to succeed in the coming upheaval in the job market.
 
To recap, here they are:
 
1. Complex problem solving
2. Critical Thinking
3. Creativity
4. People management
5. Coordinating with others.
6. Emotional Intelligence
7. Judgment and decision making
8. Service orientation
9. Negotiation
10. Cognitive Flexibility
 
These are all “soft skills” that can be applied no matter what field you work in. But…the one thing I never talked about was what to do.
 
So, here is your challenge for today. What do you want to do? What excites you? What fascinates you? What do you love doing so much, you would do it for free?
 
Got it? Write it down.
 
Here’s the good news. Whatever you love to do, someone will pay you to do it.
 

Having Fun at Work

 
OK. Here’s my next question. If you are doing something you love so much you’d do it for free, are you having fun? You betcha. And, on top of that wouldn’t you want to be the very best at it?
 
Here’s an example. Joseph Campbell was a Professor of Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence College. Now studying Comparative Mythology sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, right? As Joseph Campbell researched different mythologies, he became convinced of the existence of a “Monomyth.” He believed that all the world’s mythologies and religions were based on this single, original, myth. This same Monomyth could also be used to describe and explain human existence.
 
Campbell began to write about his theories. One of his first books was “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” This one book has influenced generations of writers and filmmakers. George Lucas used it as the basis for the plots in the Stars Wars movies.
 
Campbell’s philosophy of life? “Follow your bliss.”
 
And when you follow your bliss, work isn’t “work” anymore.
 

Lifelong Learning

 
Here’s the catch. Whatever you choose to do, you will need to apply lifelong learning to be the best. You will never get to the point where you “know it all.”
 
Writers read constantly. They do so to see how others ply their trade. Only by studying the masters can they improve themselves.
 
Musicians practice constantly to improve. I once saw an interview with Vladimir Horowitz, the famous concert pianist. In it, he stated that he used to practice 8 hours a day, but since turning 80, he cut it to 6.
 
Most professional athletes spend 6 to 8 hours a day training.
 
Who are the masters of your field? Find out. Study them. How did they get to be the best? How do they stay at the top of their game?
 
Here’s the best news of all. If you really love what you’re doing, this won’t be “work.” It will be fun. Because one of the mysteries of life is learning that it’s not the goal, it’s the journey that is the most satisfying.
P.S.  If you’d like to read “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, just click on the link below.  (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)

Countdown: Skill #1 Complex Problem Solving

Countdown: Skill #1 Complex Problem Solving

In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the top 10 skills employers will be looking for in their future employees. At long last we have arrived at the #1 skill you will need to acquire to be successful in the future. Complex problem solving.
 

Why is Complex Problem Solving so Important?

 
Robots are replacing people. Why? Because robots can do repetitive tasks with skill and dexterity greater than human beings. They can also do these tasks over long periods of time and never make a mistake.
 
People are also being replaced by software technology using algorithms. An algorithm is a mathematical formula for accomplishing a well-defined task. Software technology can count, add, subtract, multiply, divide, search, compare, compile, and analyze patterns in huge amounts of data at speeds beyond human comprehension.
 
But, contrary to popular belief, guess what robots and software can’t do? Think! Only people can exercise human judgment and apply it to given situations.
 
So while robots and software might be able to tell you there is a problem, only you can fix it.
 

Complex Problem Solving Defined

 
The process of complex problem solving can be broken down into a number of steps:
 
  • Identify the problem. This is not always as easy as it sounds. The problem itself may be buried beneath a number of adverse effects showing up in a system.
  • Identify the causes. These could be the task itself, or systems control issues, equipment, people, even personality clashes, or any combination of these factors.
  • Look for solutions. Here is where human judgment comes in. You will evaluate possible outcomes and seek the one that produces the most desirable solution. Here you may wind up settling for the least bad outcome you can find.
  • Make a decision and put it in place. Pick an answer and go for it.
  • Evaluate feedback. Is your solution working? Or not? Use feedback to adjust your solution to achieve maximum results.

Here is the Opportunity

 
Can you see where the opportunity is in these situations? The good news is we are all somewhat skilled in solving problems. It comes with being human. The better news is complex problem solving is like any other skill. It improves with practice.
 
Once again the internet comes to the rescue. Google “Learn to solve complex problems” and you will find over 3 million results. There are plenty of resources there you can use to improve your problem solving abilities.
 
My favorite source as you well know is books. Here are two to get you started.
 
The first is “The Head Game” by Philip Mudd. An ex CIA Analyst, Mudd outlines a fascinating process anyone can use to improve their complex problem solving skills. He uses real-life situations from his years in the Agency to showcase these methods.
 
The second is “Systems Thinking for Social Change,” by David Peter Stroh. This book is more technical. In it, Stroh explains how to apply systems thinking to solve complex problems of all types.
 
There are links below if you wish to get these excellent books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)
 
Whatever direction you choose, I urge you to start now. Improving this skill will put you in high demand in the coming years.

Countdown: Skill #2-Critical Thinking

Countdown: Skill #2-Critical Thinking

In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I discussed the 10 critical skills you need to succeed in the chaotic job market of the next few years. Today, I would like to talk about the #2 skill, Critical Thinking.

Just What is Critical Thinking?

 
Critical thinking is one of “those terms.” It has risen to near the top of skills employers are now seeking. Go search for a good definition though, and what you get is a lot of big words and phrases difficult to decipher.
 
Here is a list of elements involved in Critical Thinking stated in simple English:
  •  The ability to analyze the way you think.
  • A self-directed way of thinking using high standards of excellence.
  • A systematic, methodical approach to problem-solving.
  • The ability to think independently.
  • The ability to separate rational arguments from emotional ones.
 

Why is Critical Thinking Important to Me?

 
You are a Freelancer. You hire yourself out to clients and companies to work on various types of projects. Robots and software technology are replacing people at ever-increasing rates. What is the one skill technology doesn’t have? Human judgment.
 
This is where critical thinking comes in. Good critical thinking skills give you the ability to:
  •  Identify a bad or false argument.
  • Build and present good arguments.
  • Think better and more clearly.
  • Develop the ability to see things in new and different ways.
  • Question the status quo.

Here is the challenge. The human brain does not think logically. It makes most of its decisions on emotion and/or preconceived ideas. Having made a decision, people then go back and justify it with logic. What’s worse is once a person has made a decision they will defend it to the death, no matter how wrong it turns out to be.

Developing critical thinking skills helps you arrive at better, more logical decisions at the beginning of the process.
 
These are the skills employers are buying today. Doing things the same old way doesn’t cut it anymore. Now clients want new and different ways of accomplishing things. Making progress requires shaking things up.
 

How Can I Learn to be a Better Thinker?

 

There are lots of online resources to get you started. Google “Learn Critical Thinking,” and you’ll get about 29 million results. One challenge here is language. Many of these resources read like college psychology texts (read boring and difficult to comprehend). My research turned up a couple of good sources I think you will enjoy.
 
The first is a website for “The Critical Thinking Community.” This link ( http://bit.ly/2xrZtj7  ) will take you to a page that starts you on a path to learning about critical thinking. If you want to take your education further, there are a lot of wonderful resources on the site. You can join the community for free.
 
There are lots of books on this subject as well. One of the most readable I found was “Critical Thinking for Dummies,” by Martin Cohen. This book delivers a plain English approach to the subject I think you will enjoy. I have included a link below if you would like to order this terrific book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)

Countdown: Skill #3 Creativity

Countdown: Skill #3 Creativity

The first blog post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ) I listed the top ten skills necessary if you are to triumph in the ongoing upheaval in the worldwide job market.  Today, I want to discuss the #3 skill, Creativity.

 

 

Why is Creativity so Important?

 

There is one simple reason why creativity as a skill is so much in demand.  Robots and software technology can’t do it.  Here is one area where human beings can beat the bots.  Every time.

Freelancers need this skill to solve problems with new programs and procedures.  Clients and different departments implementing new programs and services will require new solutions to problems that arise.

I have a favorite saying I think sums up the need for creativity in the business world.  It comes from General George Patton, the famous tank corps commander in World War II. “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”

General Dwight Eisenhower also weighed in on this subject when he said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”

Freelancers know this.  When it all goes to hell, you’re going to have to get creative and think your way out of it.

 

How Can You Define Creativity?

 

I admit this is hard.  Creativity is one of those things that everyone knows when they see it, but find it difficult to define.

Let’s take a shot at it.  Creativity is:

  • The ability to think outside the box.
  • Coming up with something that’s never been done before.
  • Applying old methods in new ways.
  • Perceiving the world in new ways.

There are more.  Here is a link taking you to a Copyblogger Post with 21 different definitions of creativity ( http://bit.ly/2jEEKTH ).  (Hint… the list starts about halfway through the post).

 

Can I learn to be more creative?

 

How many times have you heard it?  “I’m just not a creative person.”

Wanna bet?  Actually, we all start out being very creative, and then we unlearn it.  In 1968, a man by the name of George Land devised a test to measure creativity ( http://bit.ly/2ykJSzE ).  He then gave the test to 1600 children, age 3 to 5 years, enrolled in a Head Start Program.  The results were amazing.  The 5-year-old kids scored 98% on the creativity test.  He retested the same kids 15 years later.  Guess where they scored? 12%.  Adults given the same test scored 2%.

This means our society is teaching us to unlearn creativity.

So it’s really not an issue of learning to be more creative.  It’s remembering how to be as creative as we once were.

The common misconception is that creativity belongs to artists, writers, musicians, and maybe a few computer geeks.   Nothing could be further from the truth.  We are all creative. Like all skills, it is one where proficiency is gained by practice.

Remember the old joke? A kid carrying a violin case goes up to a cop in New York City and asks, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?”  The cop looks at the kid and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”

The best part is improving creativity is fun. A lot of fun.

 

I’m Sold. Where Can I go to Learn?

 

Online of course.  Google “Learn to be Creative.”  You’ll get more than a million results.

Now as for books?  One of the best I have ever read on this subject is “The Artists Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron.  I read this book when it first came out over 25 years ago when I wanted to begin developing my writing skills.  I have reread at least 3 times since then.  Don’t be put off by the title.  This book is considered the seminal book on creativity.  It’s for people in every walk of life seeking to enhance their creativity skills.  There is also a great workbook that goes along with it I would recommend as well.

I have included links below if you would like to get these outstanding books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)

 

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