Finding a creative project (or a job, for that matter) is rooted in knowing your values.
When I ask my coaching clients, “What are your values?” they immediately reach for the “right” ones–honesty, authenticity, conscientiousness, kindness, spirituality.
“Piffle,” I say and hear a shocked intake of breath, followed by a protest.
“Those words don’t have any juice in them. They mean something vague and colorless to everybody. I want specifics.” I answer. Usually followed by a long silence.
The word “value” has been de-valued. Think about the words we used to think of as powerful: “Passionate” now means “I’m interested in it right now, “Authentic” means “I can’t be the real me, because no one will like the real me, but I wanna have a tantrum right now!” “Abundance” is something everyone else has but not you, particularly money. So we need better ideas for values.
When I ask about what a client values, I like them to use examples. Because what I’m looking for is what is important to them in the way they do their work, creative or not.
For example, you may value the bottom line–love it when people act in quick, decisive ways. Hate people who dither and endlessly consider every crumb of information.
Or, you may value being careful, thinking of a lot of choices, leaving the door open for more ideas, more thoughts. Then, when you do make up your mind, you will have done so after processing information thoroughly.
Neither of these people are wrong. Both have strong values in how they make decisions. But if they work together, collaborate on a creative idea, are in the rolls of “boss” and “employee” they will not form a good match.
While it’s true that we can’t expect to find our perfect matches in a job, a creative collaboration, in a boss, if we don’t find a match for the most important values we hold, we will be miserable. We also need to be able to speak to people who hold different values, because learning to speak to them means listening and being heard–and being heard is a strong value with almost everyone, although listening is not.
You’ve probably had some thoughts (or heated arguments) on what is “right”–
Those decisions are based on our values–what we favor, prefer, feel comfortable with. People who hold the value of “big picture” will brush off those examples as not important to a full life. People who hold the values of “details make or break the deal” will think they are important to a good foundation.
To do your best creative work and to have success at a job, you need to choose the job that matches your most closely held values. The place to start is asking the questions, “What are my values?”