I have been trying to bring my excitement and creativity to bear in my day job. I assume there are a lot of different ways to do this, but in my case it almost always involves generating a new idea that is nearly or completely orthogonal to my normal duties.
In particular, I’ve been playing with two things. The first is my other life as an artist. In that life, I’m writing a couple of graphic novels, and over time it’s become apparent that I’m going to need to draw them. These are projects that are kind of immense in scope, so they’re not appropriate for a short-term partnership, and I’m not interested in cutting them to be better suited to that model. So I have to learn to draw. In service to that, I’ve been finding reasons to draw at work. I have a bunch of sketch dumps from my paper efforts; some of those are decent, but most aren’t. But I draw almost every day, and I have models for my efforts thanks to the ubiquitous Team Meetings that are so common in our environments. These are the tools one needs in order to improve, after all.
This has lead to my having developed a reputation as an artist in my team. It’s nice, in a way, because it means people think of me with that aspect in mind, and so they occasionally toss a request my way that gives me an excuse to draw for no better reason than to try my hand at it. And because of that, I’ve been asked to do a comic for the corporate newsletter. It’s been a pretty rewarding experience, and even if I don’t get it completely finished, I’ll be glad to have taken it on.
The other thing I’ve been playing with involves my interest in crowdsourced and –funded initiatives. It seems like these are falling away a bit lately, but my hope is that they are simply settling into a workaday omnipresent mode; basically, I’m hoping they’ve passed the hurdle of acceptance and are now deep into the optimization and competition phase of the business cycle. I think they probably are.
I am very much a hammer-sees-nails guy, and so I’ve been bending those crowd-driven model to a lot of problems. At work, that’s meant I’m always looking at our processes through the lens of ways to better solve problems by taking advantage of pooled brainpower. So I’ve been developing a proposal, which I am hoping will eventually bear fruit, to take a crowd-driven approach to Professional Development. It’s a natural fit, and it’s something that my employer already takes seriously. Better, IBM does it already.
I’m telling you all of this not because you need to know what I’m up to, but because it’s all stuff that isn’t my day job but that I’m bringing to my day job. On the days when I can’t bear to look at another half-assed piece of code, this stuff gives me a reason to look around and see what else I can bring to my work. Ideally, it gives me a reason to exercise my creativity and a reason to come to work with joy in my heart.
I think those are ends worth investing in.