How To Cope With Your Creativity (Or A Boring Workplace)

By Molly Cain
January 9, 2013 • comment(s)
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My first step into the professional world was over the threshold of a small PR agency (the biggest one in Houston) where I served as an intern. There, I was given small tasks and some (to me, at least) big ones. I spent several months attending networking events and client meetings, I wrote drafts of press releases, contacted the media, I “lunched” and went to happy hour with people I admired. I learned a lot about my chosen profession there (I also learned how to order my steak, how to wear a good suit and which wines you shouldn’t order at an expensive restaurant. You know, the valuable life lessons).

And I learned that it was actually possible to have fun at work. There was a basketball hoop next to my cubicle, a “fun room” with a great couch and huge dry erase board where employees could conduct brainstorms or take a lunch break and watch TV. The CEO was an interactive, brilliant man with an open-door policy and a fervor for hosting monthly get-togethers for the entire company (interns too!) to celebrate successes and talk through failures. I was fascinated. This company embraced creativity at all levels of the organization and the people that had fun while exhibiting it. I couldn’t wait to get my career underway, surely this happened everywhere!

Whoops. What I learned instead was that the corporate world? Usually isn’t like this.

Sure, you hear about the Google’s and the SAS’s (I can always wrap my arms around a company with its own hair salon), the Fortune 500 companies who make a concerted effort to inspire their employees to create and own their ideas. There are even the’s and the Zappo’s who drive employee morale through paid time off for volunteer days and push tenets like, “we create fun and a little weirdness.” Haven’t gotten a response to your resume over there? Get in line behind thousands of job seekers looking for the chance to work for an organization that actually encourage them to operate the way they were intellectually designed. I’ll sit and wait for you to stop drooling.

If you’re not working at one of the aforementioned organizations, or one of these companies or these companies, you might be feeling a little despondent, nay, jealous of those who made it in their doors. But I’ve got some good news. You can find happiness and content whilst coping with your inordinate level of creativity and passion for what you do. There are ways to sell your soul to the <insert boring corporate workplace> and make a great home for yourself there. And in doing so, you might actually make it a better home for colleagues around you as well. Here’s how.

Express Yourself. A CEO once stopped by my office to chat and found me sitting on a giant red exercise ball while wearing my nice business suit. This was our first meeting, so to call a giant red ball an “icebreaker” is an understatement. From the exterior, the company I worked for at the time was a heavily traditional one. Most of my colleagues would have been mortified by the moment. But no, we actually had a great conversation (much of it centered around the ball) and I learned very quickly that what I assumed was a stuffy company was actually pretty easy-going about me putting a splash of my own personality in my office (while also getting a core workout!). You can do that too. Most companies will let you express yourself by letting you hang artwork, decorate, put fun toys out on your desk or even bring a giant red ball in to serve as your substitute chair. If you’re feeling as if you’re in a stuffy situation and you haven’t tried this, then you haven’t tried everything. Now granted, when a customer stops by, you should not be bouncing on a giant ball.  

Read the rest at Glass Heel on Forbes.... 

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Molly's picture

"Not everyone who wears a suit IS a suit." That's so well said! I completely agree. If you open up to your colleagues in the workplace, you're going to find there are a lot more people who want to get out there and have a little fun too. Of course, within the "appropriate" boundaries.

Becky Ryan's picture

I am FAR from the brown-shoe corporate type, but somehow I've spent a good part of my career working for banks -- not the kind of culture you'd expect an artsy English major to find happiness. But once I stopped being afraid of bringing my true self to the office -- while ensuring I was still appropriate and respectful -- I found my co-workers opened up to me and felt more comfortable expressing themselves, which led to better working relationships (at least among our teams). We didn't change the entire corporate culture, but we changed our little corner of it for the better. You have to take the risk and assume that not everyone who wears a suit IS a suit.