October 12

Stability and Challenge

As referenced a few months ago, there are two key things that creative pros need to thrive: stability and challenge.

Stability means that you need clarity of process, clarity of expecta- tions, protection of your time and focus, and protection of the runway needed to do your work.

Challenge means that—whether you know it or not—you need and want to be pushed, to take risks, to try new things, and to be operating on the edge of your abilities from time to time.

The problem is that stability and challenge exist in tension with one another. As you are challenged, the environment in which you work often becomes less stable because there is more uncertainty and less clarity about the process that will get the results you need. When you increase stability, you feel less challenged because things are more predictable.

Much of the success in creative organizations lies in getting the bal- ance of stability and challenge right. If teams are overly challenged with- out the corresponding stability needed to support the effort, they grow frustrated and angry. If there is high stability but little challenge, talented people grow bored and begin seeking better horizons.

Whether you lead a team or not, it’s important to be mindful of these two dynamics—stability and challenge—and which of them you might need more of at the moment.

So much of the success of creative teams lies in striking the right balance of stability and challenge.


Of these two forces—stability and challenge—which do you lack the most right now? What can you do about it?

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