Why Creatives Are Fleeing Their Day Jobs In A Search For Meaning

I’m writing today about creativity in regards to entrepreneurship.

They are totally inter-connected.

Three professors in Harvard Business School’s Entrepreneurial Management unit who focus on the study of creativity—recognize the romantic allure of believing it’s a rare quality bestowed on a chosen few, but all agree that notion has been debunked long ago, and rightfully so.

“Creativity does have a reputation for being magical,” says Harvard professor Teresa Amabile, “one myth is that it’s associated with the particular personality or genius of a person—and in fact, creativity does depend to some extent on the intelligence, expertise, talent, and experience of an individual. Of course it does.

But it also depends on creative thinking as a skill, that involves qualities such as the propensity to take risks and to turn a problem on its head to get a new perspective. That can be learned.

The desire to do something because you find it deeply satisfying and personally challenging inspires the highest levels of creativity, whether it’s in the arts, sciences, or business.”

So what can managers and executives do to promote a healthy, positive inner work life among employees?

Sure, a pat on the back or a company Ping-Pong table is always welcome, but what these Harvard Business School professors discovered was much simpler:

People have their best days and do their best work when they are allowed to make progress.

There have been times in my life, when I’ve wanted to move forward, but people in my life said this is as far as I want to go. As an entrepreneur, it is now I who determines my goals, my pace, my timing and therefore I can measure progress.

When a victory happens such as attaining non-profit status for my dream Kalein after five years of frustrating and tedious effort—it is real, tangible PROGRESS. When I check off my to-do list by the end of the day, that is progress…

And progress, my friends is a word this creative entrepreneur can live with.

So, LISTEN!

  1. If you are leading, give your team room to make progress.
  2. If you are in a situation where your progress and creativity is stifled, don’t hang on just for the paycheck.

Instead, look for the place where your passion intersects a need, and there you will find opportunity, your calling, that will give deep satisfaction while being personally challenging—which will result in the highest creativity.

Traditionally, this is called “bailing.”

But is it?

Why have millions of Americans quit their lucrative day-jobs in the past few years (as chronicled by Dr. Carl Ray in his extraordinary book, The Cultural Creatives) to do much lower paying jobs such as social work, working for non-profits and starting their own businesses?

Listen to this quote, “The charity work of celebrities is not just a publicity stunt—it is a genuine search for meaning. And many find it is the most meaningful thing they do.”

Bono.

Bill Gates.

Madonna.

George Clooney.

When Piers Morgan recently asked whether Clooney gets angry when people say he’s wasting his time in Sudan and that his charity work is for “self-aggrandizing reasons,” Clooney told Morgan, “I don’t need to be more famous. I’ve got all the attention I need,” Clooney continued, “and I’m just trying to use that attention on other people.”

Creatives everywhere are leaving jobs where they cannot make progress, searching for meaning and in the process discovering who they were created to be.

Let’s not simply SURVIVE, let’s LIVE.

Thoughts?

If this has been helpful, please share it by clicking the buttons below.

73 Responses to “Why Creatives Are Fleeing Their Day Jobs In A Search For Meaning”

  1. I love this. Why? Because I am living it. Some people thought I was crazy in this economy, with my wife being a stay at home Mom and two kids, to leave my full time job in January to strike out on my own.

    It’s only been two months. I am making less money. I am working hard to try and secure clients and the future is uncertain.

    And I am loving every minute of it. I get to work on things I love doing and I get to collaborate with other people in the same position as I am. That can lead to great things.
    Jay Caruso´s last blog post ..Gear Doesn’t Matter! Uh- Yes It Does

    • @Jay Caruso, Jay, i love your quote: “And I am loving every minute of it. I get to work on things I love doing and I get to collaborate with other people in the same position as I am. That can lead to great things.”

      Yes!!!!! I am living it with you!

  2. I loved this post, Randy. You are spot-on. Feeling a sense of progress is so related to our sense of health and well-being.
    Michael Hyatt´s last blog post ..Five Consequences of a Life Out of Balance

  3. Dear Randy,

    Thanks a lot for this post. Like Jay, I have been living it for roughly a year. It still is hard work to get those assignments and it will take some

    • @Gaby Feile, Gaby, It IS hard work. My wife and business partner Chris says at the beginning it is like a plane taxing on the runway. Before you can get airborne, sometimes it takes a while to leave the gate, taxi and the obtain liftoff.

      Hang in there. It is not only hard but INFINITELY rewarding when you get airborne!

  4. Randy,
    Wow, you know I love this. Amen and Amen. I’m not sure if you have discovered this yet … but I’m being completely challenged and enlightened by “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor:
    http://www.shawnachor.com/

    You may be hearing about this in October!
    Fred McKinnon´s last blog post ..Anyone Up for 3 Days Of Rest- Worship- Recreation- Encouragement

  5. Sorry Randy, I am giving up. Please be so kind and delete the above entries. Thank you!

    Just one thing: I am living it, and I am loving it!

    Cheers,

    Gaby
    Gaby Feile´s last blog post ..Influencing people positively – The Power of You

  6. Great post Randy. We’ve discovered this at Mando over the years. Meaning and purpose far outweigh a wage when it comes to developing, managing and rewarding staff.

    We’ve totally overhauled our performance review process this year – taking away loads of bureaucracy and focusing on ‘progress’ in just 3 areas: your specialism, interaction with others and your wider contribution. That’s it – it’s been brilliant for everyone concerned

    We also keep everyone in the loop about our charity and what a difference their contribution makes when it comes to fighting poverty and increasing education: http://www.mandogroup.com/who-we-are/foundation/
    Ian Finch´s last blog post ..12

  7. I was forced out of my day job a year and a half ago. Should’ve left years before that, but everyone I knew told me all the reasons I’d never succeed as an entrepreneur.

    Honestly? It’s taken most of this time for me to produce evidence to the contrary.

    I always took the safe route, even when it meant stifling who I am and who God made me to be. Every choice I’ve made in the last 18 months has been risky and painful. And, ultimately, healing and freeing. There are days I cannot believe the level of creativity and freedom surging out of my poor old brain!

    Financial success still isn’t consistent, but we’re seeing more and more glimpses of that.

    We don’t have to live in bondage to fear and other people’s concepts of us.

    We can be free. I’m still learning how!
    Charles Flemming´s last blog post ..Obedience for the Right Reasons…Chicken and Egg

    • @Charles Flemming, Every word of your comment is spot on!!

      For years, I also bought the lie that I could not succeed as an entrepreneur. That I was stuck forever in what i had always done.

      Powerful words!

      Thanks, Charles!

  8. I would agree with this statement. The times I feel the most frustrated are when (even in my current career) I feel like I’ve hit a wall and can’t move forward. I work from home now, working for myself, and the best days are the ones I can look back upon and see serious headway in bettering myself, getting work done, etc.

    Well posted.
    Mitch Canter´s last blog post ..Video from PodCampNashville pcn11 for “The Ultimate WordPress Experience”

    • @Mitch Canter, Thanks, Mitch. I think we all have those days when we just hit a wall.

      This entrepreneur thing is seasons of growth, then plateau, growth, plateau. when we realize this is a natural and healthy thing, it helps when the wall slaps us in the face.

      Tim Sanders says in his new book “Today We Are Rich,” (I interview him about the book tomorrow here) that it’s high time for people to get their confidence back, and live by a set of leadership principles that will protect us through thick and thin.”

      See why I LOVE his new book!!

  9. thank you for this!

    “Instead, look for the place where your passion intersects a need, and there you will find opportunity, your calling, that will give deep satisfaction while being personally challenging—which will result in the highest creativity.”

    i have the passion, the calling, seeking the opportunity…
    jon mark´s last blog post ..NOW!!!

    • @jon mark, Thanks, Jon Mark,don’t forget the intersection of the need.

      The need is a big deal. That’s what makes the free enterprise idea kick into turbo!!

  10. Well said, Randy! It’s easy to forget the real difference each person can make in this world. A life of creative servant-leadership may never result in riches, but it certainly leads to wealth that never runs dry.
    Andy Janning´s last blog post ..Will You Go With Me

    • @Andy Janning, Yes, Andy. And I really believe that if we find the intersection of where our passion meets a need, we can experience both riches and spiritual and emotional wealth!!

  11. There’s a lot of agreement on this timely blog post, which is very comforting on a personal note as our 29 year old IT ‘geek’ son did exactly this on Friday. Kyle’s an extremely talented and creative exec. but hey I’m openly biased. He’s gorgeous too! He moved to Germany this week with his new wife to seek a new way of life.

    Kyle started his own company at 17 and was then seduced into PAYE for security… on Friday he went back to consultancy and freedom! His words. So he’d agree with you and all you say, Jay.

    On a professional basis as a coach, I concur again as I see more and more clients who are chasing a balanced happy life over an existence. Having run my own consultancy since 1992 I am living that dream – not always been easy, but boy every mile (or Km) of the journey has been worthwhile. I guess they choose me as a coach as the fruit is on the tree; long may that continue.
    Eilidh Milnes´s last blog post ..Keep on keeping on!

    • @Eilidh Milnes, Thanks so much for the affirmation, Edith.

      Your years of experience leading the dream and “mentorizing” your son as Tim Sanders says in his interview here tomorrow, really gives me (and my readers) inspiration and hope!!

  12. nail on the head, hit. thanks so much for a great post…and for such a rounded explanation of creativity! and 5 years to get nonprofit status…in this culture of increasingly “instant” attainment, it’s encouraging to know that taking a while to get off the ground is okay!

  13. This really hits home. First I worked in the ad industry as a photographer. Saw the writing on the wall, opened my own studio….started livin’ the dream….built a creative ad team….went on to do creative communications….now marketing communications…..LOVE IT…..STILL LOVE IT……make less $$$ than cubicle jockeys with the same experience and creative fire.

    So, if you read this and are contemplating the big jump…..DO IT….and be sure to give it plenty of time, I almost gave up too soon.

    Cheers!

  14. Hey Randy I can relate to this cause I’ve lived it – and paid a high price. After winning a few laps in the rat race, I shifted gears years ago to serve a higher calling. It’s not been all that rosy, but I’ve been happy pursuing my passion and making progress over time.

    I think there’s a wisdom to understanding the season you’re called to be in, to be led by your unique purpose and vision, and not driven by frustration and a messiah complex.

    • @Rob Still, Rob, thanks for a POWERFUL statement!!

      “I think there’s a wisdom to understanding the season you’re called to be in, to be led by your unique purpose and vision, and not driven by frustration and a messiah complex.”

  15. While it is difficult to see at first, the economic downturn is the optimum time for those who feel at odds with what they do vs. who they really are to shift the paradigm on themselves. We aren’t expected to be doing as well financially as we were say 10 years ago; creditors, suppliers and providers are more willing to work with the consumer regarding payment terms and renting is preferable to home ownership. When there is less to lose it is easier to make that plunge.

    Others, like myself are still straddling both sides of the fence. I have written my first book and have decided to gradually publish it through a blog. The book is spiritual in nature and on the most part is about manifesting the inward self in the outward world. At the same time, I work for the largest health care supply chain in the world for GE Healthcare.

    It can be equally rewarding to fulfill one’s destiny through the work of others as it is to strike out on one’s own. There is something to be said for both lifestyles. The important thing is to do what we love that which makes us feel the most alive and energized.

    • @Shelly, What a great insight, Shelly!!!

      I have not considered the opportunity that lies in the economic downturn!!

      Powerful quote: “While it is difficult to see at first, the economic downturn is the optimum time for those who feel at odds with what they do vs. who they really are to shift the paradigm on themselves. We aren’t expected to be doing as well financially as we were say 10 years ago; creditors, suppliers and providers are more willing to work with the consumer regarding payment terms and renting is preferable to home ownership. When there is less to lose it is easier to make that plunge.”

  16. I love this too. I have been living my dream the last 7 years of being a stay-at-home mom. In just two and a half short years, all my littles will be in school. I’m starting to feel some pressure similar to the high school graduate “You’re done with this, now what are you going to do?”

    I would argue that I’m not done with anything, I’ll just have a bit more uninterrupted time on my hands. So, I’ve been thinking and dreaming and processing what I want to accomplish with the time I’ll have available. I’m starting to get a picture sketched out in my head, but I am struggling with the pressure to get a job. We don’t have extra money, so it would be convenient for me to take a job to make some money. But so far, there’s not room for that in my picture.

    The struggle against culture and “the norm” is a tough one, but I can tell my heart is called toward the picture being sketched in my head. I’ve been begging God for clarity, or even a little encouragement lately – thank you for posting. :)
    Jen C´s last blog post ..Baby Memories

    • @Jen C, Jen, this is so true…”The struggle against culture and “the norm” is a tough one, but I can tell my heart is called toward the picture being sketched in my head.”

      Love it!!!

  17. Randy,
    At the age of 52, I found myself without a job after my bank panicked and shut my 38 year-old family business down. Being unemployed for the first time in my life was a humbling experience to say the least. Surprisingly, I found that the further I got away from my old job, the more obvious it became that I had been miserable. There was, however, one facet of my job that I absolutely loved, and after almost 5 months I’ve been able to allow myself to pursue that passion; creating. It was such an a-ha moment when it finally hit me. The alternating exhilaration and frustration of starting a new and uncertain venture can be a bit overwhelming (especially to my wife), but in the end, I feel that for the first time in my life I am putting my strengths to work in a concentrated effort. Though it has not yet replaced the income I once had, the sense of purpose that has accompanied this unexpected paradigm shift has been amazing.

    • @David Peterson, Wow, David. Powerful!!

      “Surprisingly, I found that the further I got away from my old job, the more obvious it became that I had been miserable. There was, however, one facet of my job that I absolutely loved, and after almost 5 months I’ve been able to allow myself to pursue that passion; creating.”

  18. Can we be a “Creative” without making progress (for ourselves and others)? I don’t think so.

    It’s kind of like we can’t be entrepreneurs until we earn sustainable revenue over time (for ourselves and others).

    As Rob Still’s comment above captures, making progress is a beautiful, battered mess. But the sense of purpose, fulfilled through progress, tastes so sweet.

    Love this post, Randy!! Keep’um coming!

  19. Great post Randy!

    I heard Tony Campolo use the same quote that, “Vocation is where your great passion meets the world’s great need.” Always love that!

    I’m not in a class of a Randy Elrod, or a Michael Hyatt, or a Mark Lowry that lives their passions everyday. I’m not a person with a great talent, or a useful profession that can be of service to the “world’s great needs.” I think, for me, that sometimes it is hard to find that niche…the passion, or gift, or talent, especially at my age, and with my level of finances.

    I read so many things about the needs of so many, and my heart breaks, and I want so bad to help, but I am so limited. So what I do is try and help right where I am. Have a heart and love for those God puts into my life daily. To watch for those open doors that God puts in front of me, and be ready to walk through them with no hesitation.

    I went on a trip to Guatemala 2 years ago to help build homes for widows. It was such a great blessing for me. We were in the home of a young family that had invited us for a meal, and when he pray he thanked God for the blessing we had given him and his family. I just wanted to shout, “No, it is us who are blessed to be invited into your home.” That experience was one of the best weeks of my life, and if you asked me if someone were to call me today and ask me to go anywhere in this world to help and serve, well I would quit my job in a heartbeat to go! Unfortunately the financial cost of trips like that are hard, and impossible to manage.

    The “great” needs are there…….the passion to help is there……but the obstacles in the way are sometimes unsurmountable! The question is how to bring the two together, or maybe the real question is why don’t I have more faith??

    Thanks again Randy…I love your blog!
    Beth McKamy´s last blog post ..Ephesians 2-7&8

    • @Beth McKamy, Ah, thanks for your honest questions, Beth.

      Tomorrow’s post and interview with Tim Sanders for his book “Today We Are Rich,” will really be perfect timing for a follow-up to this conversation.

      Be sure to watch the interview and get the FREE ebook! I think it will be really helpful!!

  20. What you wrote here is what I’ve been feeling for a a few months. I get tired of just ‘surviving’ I hate being in that mode. It affects my health. I try to be grateful to have a job, but there’s a growing desire to take a risk and do something different. I was out with a co-worker last night and we both shared how we want something more out of work.

    I can tell this season is almost over and new season is beginning. Looking forward to doing something more on my creative side.

    “look for the place where your passion intersects a need, and there you will find opportunity, your calling, that will give deep satisfaction while being personally challenging—which will result in the highest creativity.” Love this quote.

    Looking forward to the creative life cruise! I need the vacation and the fellowship.

  21. I LOVE this post! I lost my job nearly two years ago and haven’t held a steady job since then. I really struggled as a then 24-year-old with a fresh Bachelor’s in Business and nothing to show for it but a stack of applications and a bigger stack of student debt.

    But now, the currently 26-year-old me has looked back on that time of struggle with a new appreciation. Even though I lost a job (that I never really liked anyway), I’ve gained a lot of free time that enabled me to be more active in my church and in my community, and has lead me to find my true passion. So now I’m back in school working on my Master’s in Non-Profit Management and I’m working on opening a homeless shelter in the area. It is a lot of hard work, and it is very stressful sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
    Alexis´s last blog post ..Music Video Richman f- J Simms – Apostolic

  22. The problem with letting a team make progresss is that someone has to give up control. It’s frustrating at times. But, sometimes you move forward anyway. It’s like swimming through mud, but at least it’s not sinking.

    I’ll be thinking about my passion.

  23. Pardon me if perhaps I sound pedestrian. For many, the curse of the second hand is that it comes suddenly, almost scandalously, proclaiming the definitive end of another day. For some – a reminder of opportunity left behind. For others – as a stealer of dreams.

    For me? As I slept, awash in a dreamscape to beautiful to tell, I could hear the dulcet tones of Mistress Time whispering in my ear. “Sleep well my darling, for we are one day closer to The Creative Life Cruise!” And that, my friends, is PROGRESS. Pure, unadulterated, PROGRESS.

  24. Thamks Randy, I will be looking forward to both the interview and the book!

  25. progress is so huge…and to have someone tell you that you are making progress could be just as important. It is easy to think when you look at what you are doing that nothing is being accomplished because you are in the “trenches” of the work, but to have someone who is watching from afar tell you that you are making great progress it gives that push that is needed to keep accomplishing things.

  26. Hi Randy,

    Thank you so much for this post! As the wife of an entrepreneur, I can of a certainty tell you it has not always been easy; however, the joy of seeing my husband in his element is something for which there simply are no words. He started his own media production company with the bulk of his business stemming from real estate. When the real estate market lost momentum in our town, so did his business. As a result, we lost a considerable amount of income, so he’s back to square one. However, square one is not the same as when he first started; there is much wisdom gained from his years of experience, and along with that wisdom, there are new ideas, and some of these ideas are now beginning to take shape. Of course, he’s continuing his relationships with his current clients as well as brainstorming new marketing strategies, but now he’s able to focus on the new ideas & bring them to life. Most recently, he’s taped, edited and produced a TV special for a dear friend of ours who is from Trinidad. She has a beautiful voice, and my husband was able to put together a Christmas special which aired in Trinidad.

    When my husband realized the enormity of the hit we were going to take because of the downturn in the real estate market, he didn’t give in to the unnerving fear of circumstances; he went to the next idea. Again, it isn’t a bed of roses, and we are both working very hard to make ends meet, but all hard work does lead to a profit. (Prov. 14:23). I would never in a million years do or say anything to make him feel like he needs to find other employment. He’s in his element, and to me that’s a very big deal because all his creativity can come to life.

    I’m told the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same word for “opportunity”. If necessity, then, is the mother of invention, then I think it should also be true that crisis begets opportunity. I work for a large insurance company, and we received word last week that our office is closing. Fortunately, we have a year and a half before the final close date, which gives us all some time to consider our options. I am beginning to pursue a long-time dream of mine to write, and I am very excited about the connections I’ve already been able to make.

    I guess I’ve said all of this to make this point: The future will come to all of us. Tomorrow will come. Just because one thing has ended does not mean the flow of creativity has also ended. Square one is not such a bad place to be, and it’s always the springboard into the future.

    Thanks again for such an encouraging post!

    • @Renee Rowell, Renee, I love this quote: “I’m told the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same word for “opportunity”. If necessity, then, is the mother of invention, then I think it should also be true that crisis begets opportunity.”

      In my interview with Tim Sanders tomorrow-he talks about how we can “future-proof” our lives. i think you will really like it. And we are giving away his ebook FREE just for visiting tomorrow. so come back by. It is an important follow-up to the conversation today!

  27. i read that and felt as if i don’t know myself well enough to see where my passion intersects a need. of course i’m in a really bad place right now. trying to make decisions that are healthy while still remaining true to those whom i love and those who need me. i told somebody all that i know is music the other day and they told me that was a cop out, but when i look at myself, music is what i’m passionate about. sometimes it’s the only thing. but then i ask am i passionate enough? have i dedicated what it takes to be the absolute best i can be with music, or do i just meddle with it? lots of tough questions posed in that post. chewing….digesting….
    Chuck Harris´s last blog post ..this might be…

  28. Love this and want to live it.
    Jeff Goins´s last blog post ..How to Write Scannable Content for Your Blog

  29. “Creatives everywhere are … searching for meaning and in the process discovering who they were created to be.”

    I would only add that the searching and processing happens best when you surround yourself with like minded creatives. With names like Elrod, Puryear, Goins, etc.

    Right on point, man.

    Looking forward to the interview with Tim Sanders.
    Bill Todd´s last blog post ..Pushing Past Fear to Embrace Your Unique Vocation

  30. Well Randy,
    You were absolutely right. This is exactly were I am right now. “Leavin’ the gate and heading down the runway.” Progress is sometimes hard to achieve but thank God for people who come alongside and help to create the “lift” in so many ways. Can’t do it alone and don’t believe we’re meant to. Looking forward to checking out the altitude in the “V” formation.

    “CARPE ARTISTA !”

  31. Randy thanks so much for this post, it’s exactly what I’m trying to do!!! I’ve started a business following my passion and I love it, however I’m still working my FT corporate job becasue I need the paycheck while I build up my client base. The more time i spend on my passion the more I dislike my ‘job’ and want to leave – totally relate to this post!!

    The more I follow my passion the more I find it refines itself and I can focus on what I want to be working on. I want to be know as a “change specialist” someone who helps others identfy the need and make successful changes to their lives, business, families, organisations in order to live the life they want to live and follow their passion, I get so excited thinking about it!
    Andrew´s last blog post ..How Full is Your Bucket

  32. I am in a crazy season right now, where I have a full-time job that is allowing room for progress, as well as a lot of side projects going on that are challenging me to make progress in other areas of my life. This year I launched a non-profit with my brother and I am almost done writing my first book. I’ve learned to re-define “spare time” – but it’s all been about progression, not just in my 9-5 career, but in the creative gifts God has given me as well.

  33. Advice on how to take the first steps as a creative entrepreneur?
    Jeff Goins´s last blog post ..How to Write Scannable Content for Your Blog

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Entrepreneurial Spirit, Creativity & Freedom… | Ripe for Harvest - March 29, 2011

    […] Randy Elrod: Why Creatives Are Fleeing Their Day Jobs In A Search For Meaning […]

  2. The Entrepreneurial Spirit, Creativity & Freedom… | Ripe for Harvest 2 - March 30, 2011

    […] Randy Elrod: Why Creatives Are Fleeing Their Day Jobs In A Search For Meaning […]

  3. What I'm Reading: Cutting the Crap, Chris Brogan, Happiness | Goins, Writer - April 3, 2011

    […] Why Creatives Are Fleeing Their Day Jobs In A Search For Meaning [Entrepreneurship] […]

Created by Randy Elrod
Back to top