I was admiring my husband’s latest artistic endeavor (the images are pictures of his hand-carved Green Man and multi-media picture) and marveling yet again at the range of his skills and talents, when I complained,
“I wish I was creative.”
He looked at me in surprise and replied with a comment that I cherish and share regularly.
“What do you mean? You’re creative. If someone comes to you with a problem, you come up with fifteen possible solutions to try. You’re one of the most creative people I know.”
My reply? “That’s not creativity. That’s just problem-solving.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, even I knew they were ridiculous. What I didn’t realize was that this was the beginning of a complete change in the way I understood creativity and in the way I thought about and taught leadership.
Sometime later, I was standing in front of about fifty people in a professional conference session entitled, “The Creative Leader,” when I heard myself saying,
“I just realized, the title of this workshop is redundant. People who are leaders ARE creative. It’s not something we have to add to our list of skills to learn. People who are leaders are creative.”
And I believe it, and understand it even more today than I did that day. Leadership is a creative act. Leaders do what my husband said I did – they develop new and innovative solutions to challenging problems. They imagine new futures and possibilities for their organizations and the people they lead. We call that being visionary. Leaders find ways to collaborate and work with people who have different ideas, purposes, and skills. Leaders create opportunities even with limited resources. All of this is creativity.
Thanks to my husband, many colleagues, and authors* such as Julia Cameron, Patti Digh, and Danny Gregory, to name a few, I have learned to understand my own way of being creative (problem-solving) and learned to incorporate other types of creativity into my life and my leadership. I’ve come to understand creativity as an essential leadership skill and as something we all have – no matter what we call it.
Join me as I share what I have learned, am learning about creativity. I hope you will share what you have learned are learning.
*Cameron, J., (2002). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity, New York: Tarcher/Putnam.
Digh, P., (2011). Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative, (Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press
Gregory, D., (2015). Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are. San Francisco: Chronicle Books