“Do I have permission to be creative?”
This would be an irrelevant question to any artist or entrepreneur.
After all, there’s no need to get permission for something that comes naturally.
But not everyone is Walt Disney or Steve Jobs.
Where does that leave the rest of us? Do we need permission?
Most of us don’t work for Google with its creativity-friendly “20% time” (time allocated to work on personal projects).
Speaking from personal experience, even people who do work in artistic fields end up doing a hell of a lot of non-artistic work.
The vast majority of my voice-acting work has been reading out a boring script in an oxygen-deprived cabin…by myself.
Industrial Lighting, Security Measures, Safety Standards – a few of the projects I’ve worked on as an “artist”.
In my other, main job, I help business professionals identify and experiment with strategies to achieve their goals.
This is much more collaborative and creative than my “artistic” work.
And I’m pretty sure yours is, too.
Let’s dive a little deeper…
NO COUCH REQUIRED
In Creative Process in Gestalt Therapy, Josef Zinker combines core Gestalt principles with what he sees as “the creative process of human interaction”.
Here are 3 things creativity means to him:
- An expression of one’s uniqueness & a celebration of life – “I’m here. I love life. I love me.”
- A social act – “I want to share in this celebration with others!”
- The breaking of boundaries / act of bravery – “I’m willing to risk ridicule and failure.”
Moving closer to the world of Profit & Loss, let’s look what a distinguished Management Professor has to say…
In Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that it involves “fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas”.
Do any of these skills sound familiar?
Here are a few questions to check if you use any of them in your work:
- As a team or group leader, how often do you need to switch perspectives to hear all sides, consider all arguments?
- When problem solving, how important is the ability to generate ideas?
- In these times of cost-cutting and over-stretched resources how important is it to be “resourceful” in your job?
Switching Perspectives, Generating Ideas, Stretching Resources – I’m pretty sure you do all of these.
Your answers show how important creative thinking skills are and how often you use them.
“Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals,” according to Mr. Csikszentmihalyi.
If you didn’t have the ability to adapt and be resourceful with what you’ve got, I think you’d be out of a job (or parked somewhere without any responsibility).
To learn more about the traits of creative people and where you intersect, see “Concept to Manifestation“.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Stanford Business Professor Michael Ray begins Creativity in Business with 3 assumptions:
- Creativity is essential for health, happiness, and success in all areas of life, including business.
- Creativity is within everyone.
- Creativity is covered over by the Voice of Judgement.
So if creativity is innate in everyone and is essential for success in life and work, why aren’t we all maximizing this resource?
Because the Voice of Judgement is loud, strong and deeply embedded – “That’s a stupid idea. You can’t do that. Totally unrealistic.”
I don’t know about you but a lot of the fun and creative activities I practiced as a kid got left behind as I matured into professional adulthood.
This is a natural development, right?
All of us are born creative. Some of us just walked away from it sooner than others.
As creativity is essential for Peak Performance, it’s critical to find your way back!
So how can you re-discover this hidden dragon, i.e. valuable resource?
According to Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, if you want access to it you have to suspend the voice that limits it:
“In practice, suspension requires patience and a willingness not to impose pre-established frameworks or mental models on what we are seeing. If we can simply observe without forming conclusions…and allow ourselves to sit with all the seemingly unrelated bits and pieces of information we see, fresh ways to understand a situation can eventually emerge.”
Remember the Professor’s creativity trait – “originality in picking unusual associations of ideas”?
I like to call it, Connecting the Dots.
There’s a clear link between the ability to connect unrelated dots and learning fresh ways to see and understand a situation.
This is a must-have skill for all professionals, especially ones in a leadership capacity.
What does this look like for you?
Another relevant idea from Presence to create fresh ways to understand a situation is through the highly creative process of “Prototyping”.
It involves testing an idea or product, evaluating the results and then adapting and repeating.
A HUGE advantage to this form of experimentation is that it’s done before you’ve figured out the perfect plan, under the perfect conditions.
Here’s another one:
“The feedback you get from experiments will help give helpful clues about how to shape, mold, and concretize what is beginning to form – but only if you learn to listen and set aside your negative reactions to ‘not getting it right’ from the outset. This is a secret that highly creative people know tacitly.”
Perhaps you didn’t know this before. But you do now.
You also know that you’re exercising your creativity every day.
And you’re doing it in the same business environment as the rest of the non artists.
So give yourself permission to UNLOCK & ACTIVATE IT RIGHT NOW –
Here’s a Powerful 3-Step Process:
- Recognize its value and accept that you are creative.
- Practice it when problem solving & collaborating.
- Experiment, reflect, adapt, repeat.
NOTE: The ideas that come from this process are the ones that will spark the creative thinking of others and inspire them to take action alongside you!
Why is creativity important to you? How do you activate it in yourself & others? Please share your comments below.