Creative Expression by Troy Selberg
What is Creative Expression and how can we find it? As an adult, we may have learned to cover up or set aside much of our inner life, in order to get along with others and do our jobs. But if we want to be more fully alive and creative, it can really help to understand and stay in charge of our thinking and feelings. As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship.”
In motorsports, to finish first – first you must finish – but perhaps we should add while obeying the rules. Before the start of a new season, NASCAR publishes a sets of rules–a lengthy tome of technical regulations, spelling out in detail every rule that covers the construction of a race car. It is up to the fabricators, engineers and craftsmen to define and work within the rules (or gray areas!) to get every ounce of speed and durability from their hand built machines.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted and high-profile individuals over the years and I’ve had an ongoing curiosity about why some people are more creative than others. I’m puzzled about whether creativity is a general skill comprised of traits and attributes that gives one the ability to apply highly creative thinking to any project regardless of domain or discipline? Or is creativity specialized, giving individuals creative-thinking skills and proclivities that apply only to one domain, no different than a Super Bowl winning coach wants to recreate that winning team over and over again?
Through my experiences (AKA watching and doing case studies), I have found that, to be creative, individuals must first internalize their culture, knowing the rules, the mores, and the conventions. But if they are only traditional and stick to those conventions, creativity never takes place, cultures don’t move forward, and nothing changes. Yet change simply because an individual wants change doesn’t produce lasting improvements and contributions either. It’s the synergy between having the rebelliousness to go where others haven’t gone while recognizing and keeping in tact what’s a valued contribution to the culture and task at hand. Those individuals also possess a great amount of passion around their work, pursuing it until they experience an internalized sense of satisfaction with the finished product.
Creative individuals greatly enjoy life to the fullest, their openness and receptiveness giving them a great appreciation for culture, the arts, music, and sports. Creative individuals sincerely enjoy playful attitudes, having fun, jesting, and know the value of laughter and keeping situations and environments light and free from unreasonable drama. They know their strengths. They also are extremely focused on new accomplishments and challenges, regardless of past successes, realizing, as writers testify, a new, blank page awaits them every day.
Therefore, creativity is a culture, a passion of loving what you do by solving problems. It’s giving your employees purpose in their lives, at work and with their families. Transforming the workplace to invite openness and fun. Make accountability enjoyable but receptive. The perfect workspace isn’t what leads to brilliant work, but in my experiences, it’s a great start…