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I started mowing the lawn when I was a child. It was and is to this day my favorite home-related responsibility. But I didn’t just start mowing the lawn — oh no. As any semi-professional lawn mower knows, one must watch and ask questions before ever pulling that recoil starter for the first time. For the Carruth household, and now the O’Connor household, properly mowing any lawn first involves two circular mows around the perimeter of the lawn and then linear mows throughout the main plot of lawn. Why two perimeter mows? So that there is plenty of room for that 180 ° turns without missing patches of grass when mowing the majority of the lawn.

I remember clearly the first time I had the privilege and honor of mowing the Carruth lawn. Technically three yards — back, side, and front — the job altogether took a little less than an hour. The mower lived in the old garage closest to the backyard, so that’s where I would always start. Next was the side yard which was the size of approximately six and a half juxtaposed kiddie pools. Because of its smaller acreage, I remember looking at it and thinking that it didn’t need two perimeter mows. So, I only did one. Last was the front yard, the most visible and opportune part of the job to showcase my steady hands and lawn lines.

Immediately upon completion, I looked at the front yard with full gratification. I thought excitedly, “I can’t wait to do this again next week.” With a proud smile on my face, I started making my way down to the backyard to place the mower in its resting spot. As I passed the side yard peering over to my right, to my disbelief, there was a patch of grass that was left uncut. Of course, it was where I had turned the mower 180 degrees on a small incline of the yard, all because I did one perimeter mow instead of two. My focus was misplaced.

I was asked to write a guest blog post on the topic of “sparking creativity and leveraging it into the great marketing content.” Without hesitation, I humbly accepted the invitation. But to be honest, the motivation wasn’t there at the jumpstart. Every time I started to write, I found myself listening to my inner hater exclaiming, “You aren’t a marketer. You aren’t a ‘creative.’ You aren’t an expert in content marketing.”  That internal shaming then wiped out all ounces of motivation. The outcome was simple: I stared at a blank screen and told myself I’d get to it later.

Well, it’s later and I have two days before I said I would send something back. In the time that I’ve given myself to write this blog post, I think I’ve come to realize why I was unmotivated and procrastinating in the first place. My focus was misplaced.

Even though vocationally I am not a marketer in that I don’t help businesses with their marketing, I am creative and I can say three things with confidence.

1) Skipping ahead in most things is counterproductive.

If you give yourself a respectable amount of time to diligently take the first step, then the second, then the third, the results will follow. When you were younger, did you ever ignore the instructions of an in-class assignment to have later found out you completely missed the mark? Have you ever tried to literally cut corners in a busy city to only find yourself staring at a dead end or ghastly traffic? I’ve done both. Not fun outcomes. When attempting to first write this blog post, I skipped ahead and focused on the “leveraging it into great marketing content” piece. Silly me.

2) When I am “always on” I can feel something inside me evaporate.

That something? My creativity. The tricky part is that I’m usually “always on” because of my job and my personality. So, I put myself in timeout often, not as a disciplinary action but as a time to replenish. Sacrificing creativity simply isn’t an option.

3) Synonymous with great marketing content are ideas.

Therefore, ideas, i.e. creativity, can only rise to the surface if they have the time to because all good things need time to rise. And if they aren’t forced, those ideas will likely have legs.

Time is on your side only if you let it. So…give yourself two perimeter mows.

A bundle of life experiences has led Maggie to her vocational passion: help companies do what it takes to become a great place to work. In addition to being a company culture cultivator and recruiter, and more importantly, Maggie is a wife, co-parent of two sweet dogs, Atlanta native but new resident of Chattanooga, fiddle/violin player, trail runner, board sport enthusiast, and general lover of an adventurous life. Maggie is the currently the company culture renovator and architect in the Talent and Culture Operations department at Conisus. Visit her LinkedIn here.

Maggie O'Connor

Author Maggie O'Connor

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