Make Fear a Nine Day Wonder - Motivate Yourself with Fun!
By Cliff Kuhn, M.D.
Have you heard something referred to as a "nine day wonder"? The phrase refers to something that causes a sensation for a brief period of time and then fades into obscurity. The origin of this phrase is usually tied to the nine-day reign of Lady Jane Grey (1537-1554) as Queen of England. This reluctant queen met an untimely fate. More on that later...
I added a new Fun Commandment recently to address a very pesky and persistent nine day wonder we all face - fear as a motivator. Fear is a great motivator...for a brief period. Then it does worse than fade into obscurity; fear adds to our load of stress and pressure. So I'm calling for an end to this nine day wonder's reign with my Fun Commandment, Motivate Yourself with Fun Rather than Fear.
Motivating yourself with fun rather than fear pays big dividends in myriad ways. Making this choice accelerates your ability to communicate, rests your brain, lowers your stress, increases your tolerance for pain, among other things. In this article, however, I am focusing on one incredibly important and impactful side effect of this Commandment - using fun to motivate yourself increases your creativity.
Creativity is an ability highly sought by businesses and employees alike. Creativity is trumpeted in every mission statement and praised by every CEO for good reason - we know that creativity brings breakthroughs! Since the ability to create breakthroughs is both a highly sought after and also a highly marketable skill, creativity gets a lot of deserved attention.
Yet there are still many myths to dispel about creativity. One of the biggest myths is that creativity is fueled by time pressure. Time pressure is an example of fear-based motivation because it involves trying to escape a negative consequence rather than moving toward a positive outcome. Deadlines are a reality, but using fear to fuel our creative juices has the opposite effect.
The alternative is to use fun as our motivator. Theresa Amabile, head of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, has been studying creativity for 30 years. For the past 8 years she has collected nearly 12,000 daily journal entries from 238 people working on creative projects in seven large corporations. She and her team scoured journals for moments when people struggled with a problem or came up with a new idea. The following rules for using fun to motivate creativity are inspired directly from Amabile's research.
How about that? I couldn't have asked for more compelling evidence that fun is a better personal and professional motivator than fear. Amabile's 8-year study clearly shows that today's happiness predicts tomorrow's creativity! So start getting happy today by motivating yourself with fun and then re-create your world tomorrow!
By the way, Lady Jane Grey was reluctant to take the throne of England because she was only 15 years old and she held unpopular Protestant beliefs. Her reluctance was well-founded; the young Queen relinquished the crown after just 9 days, plead guilty to treason, and was eventually beheaded.
Let's give fear, as our motivator, the same fate. Fear becomes a nine day wonder when we replace it with fun today!
About The Author
How to turbo-charge your health, success, and vitality! Clifford Kuhn, M.D., America's Laugh Doctor, teaches people and organizations to be more healthy and successful through the use of fun and humor. A psychiatrist, and the former associate chairperson of the University of Louisville's renowned Department of Psychiatry.