Worry and Creativity . . .

One of my favourite “guilty pleasures” as a  young boy was reading the satirical MAD Magazine under my bed covers at night with a flashlight.  According to both my Mom and Dad that stuff would rot my brain. Guess I should have listened!

Anyway, the character of easy-going Alfred E. Newman has lived on through the decades since he first appeared on the cover of MAD in 1954.  Alfred E. Newman is best known for his classic line; “What, Me Worry?”, and has been used frequently in political and hollywood satire.

I must confess, a part of me envies those who don’t ever seem to worry.  I am a worrier.  In fact my wife says I have a double Ph.D. in worrying. My aunt used to call me a “worry wart” – not certain where that phrase originated.  Anyway, guilty as charged.

Now I am smart enough and widely read enough to know (intellectually that is) that worry is pretty much a useless waste of time and energy.  Everywhere I read something like the following:

“97% of all we worry about never comes to pass, and we can’t do anything about the 3%. So why worry?”

I also clearly understand the relationship between worry and creativity as depicted in my little graph below.

For me this is absolutely true: High worry, low creativity.  And, I am definitely much more cranky during my high worry phase.  Just ask my friends and family.

So, my name is John and I’m a worrier! . . .

I am bring up this concept in case there are those out there who think that worry is somehow good for you.  The belief that worry sharpens the edge, makes you more alert to the situation by looking at all the possibilities and being prepared for the worst.

If you read this article, How Worry Affects Your Body, you will definitely see your worry habit in a different light.  We have enough stress on our bodies to then add worry on top.

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.  ~Don Herold

I am beginning to learn (slow, slow learner) that worry comes about from an absence of faith!  Faith in the goodness of others, faith in your own capabilities, faith in the perfectness of the universe, faith that everything is there for a reason.  Someone once said something to me that I have never forgotten and that helps me move forward positively every day:

“People are put on this earth for two reasons; either to love you or teach you something.”

Worry definitely fits in the second reason.

How do you view “worry”?  How do you manage worry?  My readers and I would love to hear from you.  We’re all in this together to learn.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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4 Responses to Worry and Creativity . . .

  1. I think that planning is the way I manage worry. When I am worried about all of the things that I need to get done during the day, I simply list them out and then draft a plan on when I am going to do wach thing. I prioritize and shift some things if necessary until I end up with a plan that I am confident that I can execute. Once I am confident, the worry fades away,


    • That’s the way I do it as well. Make a list, prioritise, then get started. It seems that getting started is the key. Once that happens, you get obsorbed in the work and worry gets sidelined.


  2. Great post John. I’ve shared link in my updated post. So, you too are a worrier – comrades in unnecessary mental anguish. And I believe that “Manage Better Now” is on point (yet again). Planning and preparation knock down the worry.


  3. Genie says:

    I used to be a worrywart to the point of not being able to sleep at night, because I worried about what might happen tomorrow. I’ve learned not to worry about stuff, I just live life and deal with what comes up. No need to make plans and nitpick over what might happen. I’m too busy having fun.


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