Joy at the Core of Your Creative Work

Have you ever thought of joy as a core value in your creative work?

It’s worth considering it. Joy isn’t just confetti vibes. It’s the conviction that you’re creating a piece of work that’s important to share. It’s expressing what you feel needs to be expressed.

I’ve been thinking about a few writer friends I’ve met along my journey. I remember they would read my work, and they would give me wonderful feedback. However, when I read theirs, they wouldn’t always take a compliment. Their reaction was actually quite harsh.

“I’m not that great.” “I’m supposed to be good at this, and it sucks. I write pages and pages, and I just end up with garbage.”

To me, these thoughts indicated that they were trying to achieve perfection to feel like their writing was valuable. Sadly, an activity that was meant to bring them joy had the opposite effect.

When you’re working on your creative craft, are you obsessed with how perfect the end result will look like or are you making sure you’re having fun creating it?

Joy is at the core of any type of creative work. What you do has to resonate within yourself at a deep level. That said, as you embark on a new initiative, it’s crucial to define your own values or standards that will guide you throughout your process.

Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, is a great example. As he was preparing himself to take that new role in the NBA, he interacted with different sports coaches to gain insight. Pete Carroll, head coach and executive vice president for the Seattle Seahawks, was Kerr’s most influential mentor.

Pare down your core values and tailor your daily routine around those core values.

Pete Carroll

Reading between the lines, the quote points out that:

  • Your core values serve as a compass for every decision you make
  • Your daily routine doesn’t have to feel like a burden
  • You’re always in charge of determining the level of fun at work

As Kerr took on his role, he defined his four main values and has been basing his practice and team culture around them: joy, mindfulness, compassion, and competition. As a result, the Warriors have been champions in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022.

When asked what ‘joy’ means to him, he simply summarizes it as ‘having fun’. As a player, he found that he performed better when was enjoying the game.

In creative work, having fun is a natural way of operating. It’s a solid foundation for your own personal culture as a creator. As soon as you sit to work, ask yourself, what’s fun about this?

On the other hand, the moment you start aiming for perfection is the moment the purpose of your work suffers. Pressure builds and you lose sight of the main reason why you started creating. After all, there’s beauty in imperfection and there’s always room for an improved version of what you’re crafting.

So where do you start when it comes to defining your creative values? It all depends on who you are and how you view yourself. Each creator will have a unique answer. Luckily, there’s one more great pointer that can make things easier for you.

Keep things consistent to who you are.

Steve Kerr – Podcast Interview

Keep joy at the core of your creative work, and the rest of your values will become clearer.