Stop Wallowing in Negativity and Constant Complaining

Living a creative life is tough. No matter how good you are, or how hard you work, you can be fired simply because the boss has bad taste and doesn’t like your work. I know. I was fired at 36 years old, only to find out the same ideas my old boss hated, were ideas that other organizations loved and were willing to pay much more to get. Plus, while there’s a ton of great leadership teaching out in the world, there’s very little teaching on how to lead creative people. As a result, far too many leaders are simple terrible at inspiring and motivating their creative team.

Which means even more opportunities for creative people to take a beating.

The result is that there are plenty of reasons for creative people to be disappointed and frustrated on a regular basis. But we must be very careful about wallowing in those disappointments and frustrations, because I’ve discovered that negativity can easily build momentum and before long it can snowball into despair.

Just as bad, you’ll end up being known as the negative voice in the room. I’ve worked with creative people who let their problems overwhelm them to the point that they had become negative 24/7. But you can’t live like that. Not only will you stop doing your best work, but people will stop being around you. You can’t live or work side-by-side with people who complain about everything and not have that rub off. People distance themselves, and eventually you get fired. So the cycle of negativity continues.

Break the cycle. Bad things happen in a creative life, but don’t let your frustrations and your complaining take control. Find the positive opportunities, and learn to see the good – even in an ocean of bad. You’ll find your attitude will change, and before long you’ll become the positive voice in the room.

And the world desperately needs more positive creative voices.

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  1. I agree completely with all of this! But how can we remain realistic and positive when our leadership wants us to violate the laws of physics and physical stamina when requesting things from us? If a project is quoted as taking 100 hours (no really, not kidding 100 work hours) it cannot be completed in 5! There must be some amount of give and take between our “client” and us. Most pastors and worship ministers do not know how to manage creatives. How do we remain positive when facing situations like this?

    1. You’re right about this Mark. I’ve been speaking at conferences lately on how to lead creatives, because you’re right – we don’t do it well in the church or ministry world. But the truth is, many leaders are so set in their ways that they’re never going to change, and there often comes a time when the best thing you can do (for your own sanity) is to leave. It’s an old saying, but it’s true: “Go where you were celebrated, not just tolerated.”

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