How to turn creativity into productivity

Act like you know what’s going on and people assume you do.

It’s really not much more complicated than that.

I see this almost everyday of my life. For those of you who don’t really know me, I’m going to reveal a secret that I learned long ago (from a Boomer) that can really help you as you assimilate into the workplace.

This video of Brett Cohen has over 3 million hits on YouTube. Go watch it. I’ll wait…

I love the premise. This is the kind of creativity that Gen Y is capable of, yet the frustration for many of our older generations is that we use this creativity on such “useless” things. Why would you spend all that time working on something that wasn’t going to advance your career?

I think it’s a brilliant example of something I learned from a Boomer (my dad) on April 8, 1994. I remember the date well. I was SOOOOO embarrassed!!!

Michael Jordan was really a superstar when I was little. Some say the world has never seen a better basketball player. On that night, he was making his minor league baseball debut here in Birmingham, AL. Somehow, we got tickets.

There we were – my mom, dad, little sister, and I, walking up to a stadium that was buzzing with CRAZY media coverage. As we walked into the stadium, my dad did the usual – embarrassed me to no end – when he said, “hey, let’s go over here and see if we can get in the press gate.”

“Dad,” I sighed, “you can’t do that. Let’s just go get our seats.” (insert multiple eye rolls here)

As if he had some spidey-sense of how to embarrass me, he took off with my little sister in tow. My mom and I went and sat down.

The entire time I sat there fuming about my dad’s attempt to make me the laughing stock of the world and imagining how we’d have to leave after he got thrown in jail, or at the very least thrown out of the stadium.

A few minutes later, to my horror, I see my dad and little sister emerging onto the field from the dugout.

OMG! Can I shrink down into this chair anymore!!! 

He sat down beside me and told me what happened. He just met and had a 5 minute conversation with Michael Jordan!!!

That moment changed my perception and taught me a lesson I’ll always remember:

If you act like you’re supposed to be there, people will assume you are.

That’s the secret for Gen Y! We get to the workplace and since we’ve never been there, we go in and act like the Klumps at the buffet line. It makes everyone else hate us. It causes people to want to distance themselves from us. Heck, it makes people who know how to act want to stay as far away from us as they can.

Legendary coach Bear Bryant once said, “When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

I think that’s pretty good advice. Do you?

People are starving for leadership the same way they’re looking to meet somebody famous. If you act like a leader, if you act like you’re supposed to be there, people will assume you’re supposed to be…and soon you will be.

This is how we channel all that creativity into something ‘productive’ rather than all that ‘useless’ stuff managers are always complaining about.

For the record, I vowed at that moment to never be embarrassed when my dad did stuff like that again…I’m working on keeping it.

What lessons have you learned from older generations that help in your career?

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