Whether you’re an established business leader or aspiring entrepreneur, I believe it’s always important to look for inspiration and guidance to cultivate the career of your dreams. So how do you do that? I think a great place to start is looking outside of the workplace. I’ve always found the creative outlets or hobbies that bring me joy can often inform how I communicate and run my business.
For some, those outlets or hobbies may be anything from travel to exercise. In my case, my musical background provided me with certain guiding principles on which to build a dynamic working culture within my own company, Left Field Labs (LFL). Like playing music together, at LFL, we’re incredibly collaborative and incorporate breakthrough creativity, which leads to successful results. So for me, the music analogy works.
Below are five pieces of career wisdom I discovered from my experience playing music:
Practice Shared Mindfulness
Anyone who has played in a band or an orchestra understands the collective consciousness that occurs while playing music. There’s an awareness around each of the groups of instruments, and of each player. Each participant has a role to play—a certain perspective to be shared and heard—and it’s this same synergy that can translate to any business.
Whether you’re brainstorming in an internal strategy session, or bringing a new product to market, your team’s success ultimately hinges on the sum of its parts reaching their utmost potential to achieve a result that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Music is an activity that reminds me of the power of being present in the moment. When you’re playing, you’re not thinking five measures ahead or about what you just played. You’re thinking about the present moment only.
Many fears may present themselves when you’re launching or trying to run a business. However, when you honor presence by staying within the moment, you’re no longer operating out of fear. You’re not forecasting events that might happen in the future, nor are you wallowing in the past.
I always encourage others to find different opportunities to honor presence while at the office. Whether it's listening to music, meditating, or incorporating activities, such as yoga, there’s always something one can bring into the workspace to increase a sense of presence.
Channel an Attitude of Gratitude
In the context of an orchestra or musical ensemble, a single instrument playing solo can be wonderful, but as a variety of instruments symphonize, the richness and dimensionality creates an extraordinary sound experience. When we merge our individual skill-sets in collaboration, we tend to manifest a far greater and more fulfilling impact.
Having this sense of belonging—which I think is what gratitude is—is an essential reminder that you’re exactly where you need to be, right here and now. Any artist will tell you that being present in the moment is one of the most rewarding aspects of the creative process. Channel the gratitude that you experience from your creative outlet. You’ll feel grounded and also aware of how precious this shared experience is of creating together.
Even when you know your instrument well, there’s always another benchmark, whether you’re looking to evolve stylistically, or be more technically proficient. Find a creative outlet where you can track your own evolution—something that positively challenges you and allows you to stretch your own capabilities and ideas about yourself in the process.
By channeling your energy towards something you enjoy (beyond the office), you’ll reap the benefits, both personally and professionally, because you’re fueling your own creativity. More importantly, it’s about measuring yourself by your own standards, and not according to anyone else’s.
Own Your Voice
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been enjoying a new creative outlet: songwriting and recording. In my experience with this new form of expression, it’s common to experience self-doubt, but recognizing the power of one’s own voice is critical. Your voice and your message are uniquely yours; there was never one like it before and there never will be again.
The messages that emerge through the songwriting process can be entirely unexpected and yet incredibly profound. Be comfortable with being different, while embracing the unexpected—and inspire others to do the same. Whether you’re running a business or planning to launch one, every role on the team matters. If you can “own” the need to align, then the message of your business will shine through with purpose and clarity.
There’s a uniqueness in each of us, and it’s that individual expression harmonized with the greater group, which creates success. So no matter what your creative outlet or hobby is, the lessons you gain from them can positively shape your leadership style. Again, there is no one formula for success, so compose your own masterpiece!
By: Sarah Mehler
Sarah Mehler is the Founder and CEO of Left Field Labs (LFL), a creative agency dedicated to applying breakthrough thinking to emerging technologies. Since forming LFL 11 years ago, Mehler now leads a team of over 100 designers, developers, and strategists who have launched hundreds of digital products and experiences—from VR and websites, to apps and experiential installations—for clients including Google, Discovery, Android, Estée Lauder, Uber, and Disney.