Just in case you’ve been blissfully disconnected or marooned on a tropical deserted island over the last half decade or so, things have changed. Since 2004—according to Tom Friedman of the New York Times—Facebook, Twitter, cloud computing, LinkedIn, 4G wireless, ultra-high-speed bandwidth, big data, Skype, system-on-a-chip (SOC) circuits, iPhones, iPods, iPads and cellphone apps have appeared or, in a few of these cases, been highly refined.
In Mr. Friedman’s words, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected and those who win:
“won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.
The old average is over. Everyone who wants a job now must demonstrate how they can add value better than the new alternatives.”
“The safety zone has moved. Conformity no longer leads to comfort. But the good news is that creativity is scarce and more valuable than ever. So is choosing to do something unpredictable and brave: Make art. Being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things you’re an artist, no matter what it says on your business card.
Why make art—because the connected economy demands it and will reward you for nothing else.”
One can reasonably argue that now is a very good time, indeed, to let go of the old and welcome in the new. The world is changing and will continue to change at hyper speed. Barriers to entry are so low, social connectivity and access to comparative shopping so easy, immediate and grounded that the time has passed for putting forward average to good products, services and other creations.
Is there any reason whatsoever for me to spend time and money on an average restaurant when all I have to do is go to Open Table or Yelp to discover one where the food, service and ambiance will surprise and delight me? Where the price point is just right for me today?
Can you imagine why I should hire a recent graduate or retain a legacy player who sees their job as responding to requests and withholds their passion, creativity and ideas for endeavors outside the work we pursue together?
The answer of course, in both cases, is a resounding NO!
Yes, I do agree with Seth and Tom. Now is the time to bring our best selves to work, go all in and make art. The creative economy requires this of us.
Not surprisingly, the upside prospects for those who bring and/or do anything less are declining at warp speed. Our customers want and expect to be surprised—demand to be delighted. If you hope to succeed and endure offering the average, please exit stage left.
The path to success today lies through recurrently and reliably transforming customers into passionate advocates. It is through the making of art that we evoke passion and find and grow our customer base.
BUT, the making of art is no casual endeavor. To make art is to give voice and expression to the human spirit while channeling passion—to bring the highest standard of care to the making of our creations and the structuring of our offerings.
To make art, one must take the time to step back and reflect on what is there and what is missing.
To make art one must invest in and have the patience and perseverance for planning, design, careful construction and meticulous detail. To make art is to understand the importance of simplicity and elegance in design.
In the making of art, we speak directly to the human spirit. Humans—creators, explorers and problem solvers at heart—passionately seek encounters, experiences and interactions that speak directly to and lift the spirit.
Yet, many of us find the biggest challenge to making art to be taking the time. Our argument is this: “We are just so busy that it seems that there simply is no time. At the speed we operate, with the myriad goals and aspirations we hold and the opportunities that lie before us, the notion of taking time for the making of art feels antithetical to reality.”
How shortsighted can we be? This narrative leads us to only one end game—the loss of position, opportunity and advantage. To being left behind. To failure.
Often now, I come across dedicated professionals awakening to the realization that, absent personal and institutional appreciation and processes for devoting time to and space for the making of art, it is simply not possible to contribute their best work. As this realization sets in, mood deteriorates and enthusiasm for the work and organizations at hand rapidly declines.
Deciding that life is too short to miss the opportunity to bring the full of their selves and creativity to bear, they choose to exit current employment in search of circumstances and place where art, passion and contributing at one’s best are valued and rewarded. Thus, as one journey to leadership begins, another inevitably finds itself in decline.
In a world where talent is the key differentiator among competitors, those organizations unable to attract and retain top talent lose. Those that discount the critical importance of nurturing cultures that make it possible to work at peak find themselves to be immediately disadvantaged and, soon, in decline.
Believe me, I get it. We are all busy now. The answer isn’t to work harder and longer. The answer is to work smarter, more passionately and more humanely. It is by welcoming and embracing our humanity and the genetically encoded creative flow that lives within each of us that greatness is given the space to evolve.
Think about it!