Written by B.E. Kerian You can f ollow his own blog here

It’s here. Your defining moment when you have an opportunity to ‘ trust the process ‘, to ‘ dare to dream ‘ and more importantly to ‘utterly mess it all up and figure out what works…or what doesn’t’. Will you take that opportunity? The risk? The chance to lead…even if you don’t know exactly where you are going?

There are moments throughout the development and history of any successful studio or business that allow their people to take the lessons they’ve learned, for better or worse, and move forward to a better future. Pixar Animation Studios, which was founded in 1986 but didn’t go public until late 1995, is certainly no exception. And with good reason. Pixar co-founder (and current president) Ed Catmull shares a behind-the-scenes look at the creative and collaborate process that not only goes into the films made by the universally-acclaimed studio, but also into building a creative culture that will potentially outlast its originators in his 2014 book, “Creativity, Inc.”.

“Pixar was a place that gave artists running room, that gave directors control, that trusted its people to solve problems. I have always been wary of maxims or rules because, all too often, they turn out to be empty platitudes that impede thoughtfulness, but these two principles actually seemed to help our people” (my emphasis, 67).

In 1997, the Disney studio came to Pixar with the idea of making a direct-to-video sequel to Toy Story. It wasn’t long after starting the project that the Pixar team realized it “ran counter to what they believed in” (e.g., quantity over quality) and even created “a negative impact on the internal culture” of the Pixar studio. And so, for nine grueling months before Toy Story 2’s scheduled theatrical release, the entire film was rewritten and reanimated from what was viewed as a mediocre project to something universal and timeless.

Catmull later said, in a 2007 documentary feature, “The important thing is not the idea. The important thing is the people. It’s how they work together.”

Ultimately, success boils down to 4 major points:

  • Stay true to your core values.

  • Allow room for creativity.

  • Conutinously problem-solve (e.g., turn something from good to great)

  • Set people-oriented goals.

With that last point in mind, Catmull considers the aforementioned experience as a lesson in recognizing the effects this has on the people involved, and figuring out solutions and strategies to consider how to best meet their needs.

At Mercury Matrix, Inc., which was founded by manager Julian Thomas in 2014, everybody believes in “being the best” and “letting our results speak for themselves”, whether working in the office, speaking to customers throughout the Twin Cities region, or carrying out actions and steps to reach short-term and long-term goals. As a Account Manager of this company, I have seen firsthand the benefit of not only the various tools, skills and standards involved in being successful, but moreover the actions and choices made by those who carry them out. Lastly, I have repeatedly seen the embodiment of these 4 key elements demonstrated by Mercury Matrix.

One of the points Catmull makes in his book, in terms of management and leading others, is that “it’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.”

Risks and adversities are inevitable. So you can either try to avoid them, or you can face them head-on with confidence and with a solution-oriented mindset. Figure out how to overcome them AND how not to. In terms of personal and professional development, Catmull adds, “If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature [or purpose], you will be ill prepared to lead.” You have to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, what the end result is that you’re aiming for, and recognize the importance of accountability and following through in the process of striving towards success.

Will you take a step forward today Or will you stay in the ‘comfort zone’?

WARNING: There is no growth in the comfort zone.