Audio: Celebrate the Chaos Within [Time – 5:41, File Size – 5.3 MB]
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None
“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” – Chuck Palahniuk
“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
Some of the most creative people I have worked with were filled with chaos! Yet the contributions they made to our projects were frequently surprising… unique… even beautiful. Their internal chaos really could give birth to some amazing “dancing stars!” Among my most difficult challenges as a project manager is to figure out how to handle this chaos without destroying their creativity. Early in my career, when I was too scared of losing my job to take many risks, I worked pretty hard to rein these “crazy” folks in. As the years rolled by, however, I began to look back longingly on some of the missed opportunities that these chaotic souls had pointed out to us. And I regretted not giving these people more room to move… I regretted not pushing their “wild ideas” to the limits.
So today, with the confidence of success calming my fears, I’ve developed this personal rule of thumb: Give these outside-the-box thinkers a little more room to move than I’m comfortable with… let them push us all (the whole team, if need be) beyond our comfort zones once in a while. And watch what happens!
Reflect on these questions:
- What moments of crazy, impetuous, outside-the-box thinking have helped our project shine?
- Have you acknowledged, praised, or even celebrated these moments of creativity?
- Are you secretly afraid that “outside the box” thinking will simply slow things up or take the project team in directions that we dare not go?
Ask your team:
- What “crazy ideas” do you sometimes wish we could act on to make our product or processes better?
- How do we “sit on” or discourage outside-the-box thinking?
- What’s one crazy thing you’d like to try, but have been afraid to mention for fear of looking silly or delaying the schedule?
Project Manager Challenges
- Avoid the impulse to brush aside the “crazy idea” as unrealistic. Stop and think about how it might actually work if it were modified in some minor way.
- Stay alert and vigilant for fleeting moments of wild enthusiasm for a “crazy idea.”
- Celebrate divergent thinking! Praise people who have the courage to take you in strange new, but ultimately useful, directions.
- Check out
- Go to PhilosophersNotes and get the full notes and MP3 on Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
- Get the 4 Disc CD set or audio download of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, narrated by Alex Jennings, from LearnOutLoud.com.
- Check out Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra on Amazon.
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