“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.”
Last week I began to discuss creativity and the importance of “play.” Creativity is essential to everyone in order to live a fulfilling and engaged life. Play is the most basic form of improvisation, which is necessary during the creative process. The creative process is not exclusive to artists and the act of making art; each of our lives is its own creative process. For one to be successful in a creative process, it is crucial to have a safe environment where we feel we can experiment, take risks, fall and get back up, and be vulnerable. Without all of these elements, we can’t and won’t grow as an individual.
In Sport Psychology, we have two categories for environments: task oriented and win oriented. In a task oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of mastering the skill to build confidence and grow. They are intrinsically motivated. In a win oriented environment, a person engages in an activity or skill for the purpose of being better than others rather than for self improvement. They are extrinsically motivated. As we discussed previously, in order to reach a Flow state, or optimal performance, we need to be intrinsically motivated, comfortable enough to take risks, receive timely feedback, and proper support. A task oriented environment provides the appropriate structure, where a win environment feeds into negative competition, self doubt when “failing,” and can perpetuate the downward spiral.
Improvisation/play is a great example for an activity within a task oriented environment. There is no one correct answer, and participants continue to engage in the activity because of its enjoyment and the discoveries they make. Unfortunately, many of the environments we find ourselves in as we get older are more often win oriented environments. Schools like to say they are nurturing and more task oriented, but many times the learning that is happening is directed towards a specific outcome. The constant testing and the pressure of grades provide a win environment where students are constantly comparing themselves to classmates and even students outside their school. This environment makes it much harder to achieve a flow state and enjoyment of the material, leaving many students worn out and skeptical about being a lifelong learner.
Reflect on your own life and the decisions you have made. Did you decide to get that certificate because you wanted to better yourself as a manager and a person or because you knew you would get a salary bump? Did you go into a field of study because you felt it would provide you a more “successful” job rather than studying something you loved and would make you happy? Knowing your motivation can help you to make decisions. Doing something that motivates you intrinsically, will help to fuel you and fulfill you. Doing something that motivates you extrinsically, will most likely drain you and lead to unhappiness. If you continue to make decisions based on what resonates with your authentic self you will create a life of fulfillment.
Now reflect on your environment, both personal and professional. Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do they lift you up, support your accomplishments, and energize you? Or are they competitive and drain you? What activities are you engaging in? Do these activities support a healthy lifestyle: mind body and spirit? Or are they distractions? We have the power to create a task oriented environment, where we are not only supported but also encouraged to be our best self!
This week, take the time to journal about the environment around you. Notice what is serving you and what is not anymore. Remember to observe without judgment. From there, brainstorm some changes you can make so that you can begin to create or strengthen the environment you want. Even the smallest changes will shift the energy around you.
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