Not that long ago, if you were to ask me what my “mantra” was, I would have thought that you were curious about my meditation practice.
More recently, however, I've heard the term “mantra” used much more in a business context, as in that “guiding principle” which inspires you to do whatever special things you do. In the past I might have called it a "motto," or a "creative strategy," but today: it's a mantra.
For example, several weeks ago, I watched “Mr. Art of the Start” Guy Kawasaki tell a room full of would-be entrepreneurs, "Forget mission statements — they're worthless; instead create a powerful mantra for yourself."
My suggestion: find a creative life mantra that will remind you to stay creative. Charlie and Maria Girsch have "what if, what else, why not" as theirs. Walt Disney's was "dare, dream, do." I've adopted the Girsch's as mine for now.
This all got me to thinking, "What's my mantra?" As I reflected on this question, I came to realize that, yes, I do have a mantra, and yes, I've been acting on it for the past thirty or more years. My mantra is:
“Look for the Second Right Answer.”
I find that this strategy informs a lot of what I do.
- When I'm looking for information, it tells me to go beyond the right answers that have worked in the past and to dig for others.
- When I'm trying to be creative, it playfully advises me to put my ideas in unusual contexts to give them new meanings.
- When I'm evaluating concepts, it implores me not to get stuck in the negative and to not fall in love with one particular approach.
- And, when I'm implementing ideas, it reminds me that if one way doesn't work, a different one just might and to act accordingly.
So, all in all, it seems to be a good working mantra (for me, at least). I think I'll keep it for a while longer (of course, I could always use a "second right mantra").
Here's my question for you: What's your mantra? How does it inform your thinking and your actions? I'd love to hear what's worked for you!