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The most powerful question for creating creativity in your company

4 min read


Paul Batz is an author, speaker and executive coach. He is also founder of What Really Works, a leadership coaching and publishing company, headquartered in Minneapolis. He can be reached via e-mail.

I’m an executive coach who owns a leadership coaching and publishing firm. Here’s an observation: Each of our clients is asking employees to be more entrepreneurial. It’s a worthy aspiration, with significant challenges. Here’s why:

The primary benefit of entrepreneurism comes from freedom to create your own stress — not the stress thrust upon us. Entrepreneurs thrive on their own stress, which produces the endorphins that reward creative, entrepreneurial endeavors. Part of the reward is a blended lifestyle — to entrepreneurs, the work is not only what they do — it’s also who they are. Most corporate environments want the entrepreneurs to shed their own personal brands and be the corporation. See why it doesn’t work?

The best way to unleash the entrepreneurial energy inside your organization is to demonstrate you care about the answer to this question with your followers: “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” Even inside the cloak of a corporate identity, you can get the whiz-bang creativity out of your people, if, and only if, you can make this direct connection: Show people that their “entrepreneurial” energy will advance them toward who they want to be — both personally and professionally.

It’s not just my idea; this is the stuff that Dale Carnegie, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar have been promoting throughout the modern era. If you are having trouble wrapping your head around this concept, here’s a triggering mechanism that may help: We call it the Seven F’s — faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun and future.

Earlier this year, Tim Schmidt and I wrote the book on how blending the Seven F’s can help people create the work/life they imagine. Our conclusion: Trying to keep our personal and professional lives separate — or balanced like a teeter totter — isn’t working anymore. The people we admire most are well-rounded leaders in our communities who know how to blend the Seven F’s.

  • Faith: Our spiritual life. Spirituality is a peculiar and amazing thing. We are all  spiritual beings — regardless their chosen religion, most humans find a source of identity and strength by listening to and nurturing their spirituality.
  • Family: Our loved ones. In the research for the book, more than 1000 college-educated, knowledgeable workers rated “family” as the most satisfying of the F’s, and they also said family was their highest priority for increasing their satisfaction.
  • Finances: How money funds our priorities. While some see our income on the rise, most people today see the opposite. Here’s the deal about finances: The only way to be truly satisfied with our finances is learn to be grateful for what we  have, not spiteful about what we don’t have.
  • Fitness: The health of  our body. In our survey, fitness finished dead last in satisfaction, and dead last in priorities. Fitness really should be easy, except for the fact that we have to eat less (and better), drink less alcohol and break a sweat more often. How’s your fitness — really?
  • Friends: The people who share our joys and disappointments. Our research reveals that women tend to be more satisfied with their friendships, and they also place a higher priority on friends. How are you doing with your friends?
  • Fun: The part of life that is playful and joyful. With so much of our life spent working, can’t we make it more fun? Would the people you spend the most time with describe you as fun?
  • Future: The hope that we have for ourselves and others. Future is less about optimism and more about the commitment we make to a better world. Future is a major driver for many entrepreneurs. How about you?

Personally, I find the stress to be manageable when I am finding ways to effectively keep all of the Seven F’s within my daily and weekly routine. I’m more creative, more courageous and happier. If you want your followers to be more entrepreneurial, maybe you should start by creating a more entrepreneurial spirit within your own walls.

Start by asking people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”