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The Accidental Creative podcast shares how to build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work. Host Todd Henry (author of the books The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, and Louder Than Words) interviews artists, authors and business leaders, and offers tips for how to thrive in life and work. Listen in and join the conversation at AccidentalCreative.com.

The Accidental Creative AccidentalCreative.com - Todd Henry

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The Accidental Creative podcast shares how to build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work. Host Todd Henry (author of the books The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, and Louder Than Words) interviews artists, authors and business leaders, and offers tips for how to thrive in life and work. Listen in and join the conversation at AccidentalCreative.com.

    Navigating Through Failure

    Navigating Through Failure

    This episode is about how to deal with moments of failure.

    Everyone loves to win. The accolades, attention, and rewards are addictive. However, if you’re trying to do the work you’re capable of doing, you’ll eventually fail. If you’re leading a team of capable, driven people who are stretching themselves creatively, you’re probably going to fail often to hit your mark. You will eventually fail.

    If you’re not failing every so often, you’re probably not trying hard enough. 

    After a failed project, many teams simply move forward to the next one, without a postmortem. This is a huge mistake. It’s important that you seize those failures and mistakes and turn them into growth moments for your team. Otherwise, people are likely to commit the same mistakes again. Some of the biggest coaching opportunities you’ll have are in the moments when an individual or the team has failed.

    Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary head basketball coach for Duke University, said in an interview: “My defining moments have usually been something where I’ve lost or where I’ve been knocked back.” At the end of the 1983 season, Duke lost by 43 in the ACC tournament. The program was in disarray and many thought that Coach K’s career was over. At dinner that night, someone raised his glass and said, “Here’s to forgetting about tonight.” Coach K stopped him and ordered him to put his glass down. Then he raised his own glass and said, “Here’s to never forgetting about tonight.”

    The following season, when the team arrived on October 15 for the first practice, the scoreboard over the court read 109–66, the final score of the tournament loss to Virginia. Players recounted that Coach K wanted them to never forget how it felt to get beat so thoroughly and to use it as fuel to give their best every day. Since that day, Duke has emerged as a premier basketball program, and Coach K largely points to that defining moment as the turning point.

    If you’re not failing every so often, you’re probably not trying hard enough.

    Here are a few questions to ask shortly after experiencing a failure. It’s very important that you couch this conversation as a desire to learn from the experience and grow, not as a trial of competence:

    Why do you think you/we fell short of our objectives? Stop to consider what happened, and strive to ensure that the team is telling a consistent story about what actually happened. Often, team members will have different perspectives on what led to the failure. Make certain that there is a common understanding of what contributed to the failure to hit the mark.

    What did we learn from this experience? Try to capture whatever was learned from the shortcoming so that you are able to institutionalize that learning and prevent the same mistakes next time. Were there any assumptions that were limiting your thinking? Were there any faulty lines of logic that led to miscommunication? Whatever the problems, make certain that the team understand where things went off the rails.

    What will you do different next time? Failure is only a huge problem if (a) it takes you out of the game, or (b) it’s repeated in the same way more than once. Strive to never fail twice in the same way. Failure the first time is inevitable, failure twice in the same way is a function of poor leadership. Was the failure one of effort, decision making, or skill? How can you avoid it again? (By the way, failures of effort require special treatment, because it’s the one kind of failure that is completely avoidable.)

    If you were me, what would you do to prevent these mistakes in the future? Solicit input from your team members about how you can prevent the same...

    • 15 min.
    How To Plan For Uncertainty

    How To Plan For Uncertainty

    We live in uncertain times. My friend Andy posted a photo of a sign from 2015 today that asked "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Well, I seriously doubt that any of us would have answered "living through a global pandemic with an uncertain ending."

    No matter what your role, it's important that you learn to plan for uncertainty. You can't predict what will happen, but you can prepare yourself to deal with unexpected events in a more productive way. On this episode, we share three core principles for planning for uncertainty:

    * Ask better questions. Many people don't ask questions because they don't want to know the answer. However, it's only when things go awry that you fully realize the quality of the questions you've been asking. In this episode, I share how to ask the "what's the pin in the grenade?" question to help you prepare for unexpected negative events.* Build your runway. You need to know that you have the resources needed to bridge from here to there. Many businesses will go under during this pandemic because they weren't able to survive the downturn, but those who make it through will be far better positioned on the other side to take advantage of the rebound. * Protect the main thing. Mission is king. You need to adjust and adapt in whatever way is necessary to protect your mission and abide by your values.

    Uncertainty is inevitable, but how we deal with it makes all the difference between a successful outcome and a disastrous one.

    This episode is sponsored by Givewell. Get your first donation matched - up to $100 - when you select [Podcast] and [The Accidental Creative] at Givewell.org.

    • 19 min.
    3 Questions To Ask Right Now

    3 Questions To Ask Right Now

    You need other people in your life to help you see yourself fully. You only see a certain perspective, but people around you can help you see opportunities for growth and advancement that are invisible to you.

    But right now, community isn't naturally coming to you. You have to go to community.

    On this episode, we share three questions that you should be asking someone in your life you trust. If you are a manager, these three questions can help you unlock areas of growth for yourself and your team, and can illuminate places where you're slipping into ruts or over-controlling the team. The three questions are:

    * What am I doing right now that I should stop doing?* What is something obvious that you don't think I see?* How can I be of help right now?

    This need for community is also why I've started Creative Leader Roundtable, a three-week workshop for leaders and teams. Now, more than at any point in recent history, we need others to help us navigate. Learn more about the workshop, or see how you can bring your entire team.

    • 19 min.
    How To Be An Ally (with Chuck Mingo)

    How To Be An Ally (with Chuck Mingo)

    On this episode, founder of Undivided Chuck Mingo shares how to be an ally in the workplace.

    Over the past several months, conversations about race and justice have been thrust to the forefront of culture. However, these conversations can be fraught with challenges, especially in the workplace. How do we have meaningful conversations that build stronger relationships and stronger organizations?

    On this episode, founder of Undivided Chuck Mingo shares how leaders can be an ally in the workplace, how we can lead with greater empathy and understanding for those whose experiences are different from our own, and how we can elevate difficult conversations while cultivating trust and strong relationships.

    This episode is sponsored by Literati, the subscription book club that makes it easy to find unique and interesting books for your kids. For a limited time, go to Literati.com/creative for 25% off your first two orders.

    • 26 min.
    The New Corner Office (with Laura Vanderkam)

    The New Corner Office (with Laura Vanderkam)

    On this episode, Laura Vanderkam shares insights from her new book The New Corner Office.

    We are all learning a new way of working. In truth, this transition has been coming for a while, but was dramatically accelerated by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of us are now working from home, or at least working in remote locations away from our co-workers, which means that we need to develop a new set of habits and rituals to help us thrive.

    Laura Vanderkam has just published a book called The New Corner Office in which she shares best practices gleaned from years of research into productivity habits. In our interview, she shared a few key insights that can help you be more focused, more productive, and more energetic throughout your day. Here are a few of my key takeaways from our conversation:

    Manage by task, not by time. When you are in the habit of going to an office every day, there are some external prompts for what constitutes a full day of work. (Is it 5:30PM yet?) However, when you work from home, your schedule might be different every day depending on what's happening in your household. Laura suggests that, instead of focusing on time as the key metric for a full day of work, we focus on the accomplishment of tasks. Once we've checked those tasks off, we've completed our work for the day.

    Make sure your virtual meetings have a focus and a "why". When everyone was first working from home, virtual meetings sprouted on the calendar like weeds. We were trying desperately to make sure we were all connected and "in the loop". However, now that we are settling into a new rhythm, it's time to start pruning some of those non-essential meetings from the calendar and curating the set of meetings that are truly helpful and meaningful. Do all of your meetings have an apparent "why?", and is there a clear agenda?

    Work on transitions. When your desk is ten feet from your breakfast table, it can be a challenge to feel like there are any true "transitions" in your day. Laura says it's critically important to develop some transitional rituals to signal to yourself that you are moving into a new mode of work. For example, maybe it's having a coffee ritual that signals it's time to start the workday, or maybe you need to change into different clothes to signal that the "professional" part of your day is beginning. Whatever your method, having transitions in place can be a strong signal to your brain that you are now in "focus mode".

    These are just a few of the key insights I took from our conversation. Whatever your job, make sure that your systems and rituals are set up to ensure that you're spending your most productive hours doing your most important work, and that you are marking your days so that you have a sense of rhythm about your work.

    This episode is sponsored by Freshly. Join almost one and a half million satisfied customers and skip the shopping, prepping, cooking, and clean up. Get forty dollars off your first two orders at Freshly.com/creative.

    • 24 min.
    Do You Know Your “Red Zone” Activities?

    Do You Know Your “Red Zone” Activities?

    In American football, the red zone is the area on each end of the field inside the twenty yard line. What happens in this area is a key determining factor in a team's success or failure. Teams that easily advance the ball down the field but can't score in the red zone will lose games. Teams that play great open-field defense but can't prevent scores in the red zone will lose. Performance in this very small sliver of the field often determines the overall success or failure of the team.

    As you examine your life, and especially your creative work, it's important to be able to identify the red-zone activities that will really make a difference and generate forward momentum during the particular season you're in. Some qualities that mark red-zone activities are the following:

    Activities that you can uniquely do or add value to because of your position or expertise. While there are a lot of ways you could be spending your time, there are a certain number of activities that you are probably the best person for. Which of these activities should you engage in every day?

    Activities that increase your personal capacity to generate ideas, such as study, purposeful ideation, or intelligence gathering. These are typically the first to go during a busy or stressful season. Are you taking the time to sharpen your mind and your creative intuition?

    Activities that provide cohesion or creative traction for your team and increase future capacity. For leaders, these include activities such as clarifying objectives and encouraging your team members. Are you taking time every single day to do the small things that make a big difference?

    Activities that feed your energy, such as adequate sleep, exercise, or spiritual practice. These are most often neglected during busy or stressful times. You must take care of yourself. Which activities do you need to focus on during this season to ensure that you are prepared for the uncertainty and challenges you will face?

    Your "red zone" activities are likely to be made up of some combination of these qualities. Take some time this week to consider what activities you are uniquely positioned to engage in, and that - if done daily - will generate significant momentum in your life and work.

    The most accomplished people aren't always the smartest or the most talented. Rather, they are the ones who do small, important things every single day for long periods of time. They succeed in the red zone.

    • 17 min.

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