Meeting my teachers: Julia Cameron

“‘How can you teach creativity?’ They want to know. Defiance fights with curiosity on their faces.

‘I can’t.’ I tell them. ‘I teach them to let themselves be creative.’” Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron, author, screenwriter, playwright, teacher  –  her list of accomplishments is prodigious. I was at a yoga retreat in 2003 when someone mentioned her seminal work, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Greater Creativity. My first reaction was to think ‘that’s not for me.’ After all, I’m not an artist. I’m the person who wishes she were creative. As I mentioned in my post on July 17th, I’ve learned how wrong I was. My problem wasn’t a lack of creativity – it was my narrow definition of creativity.

Using her tenth-anniversary edition, I started down Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. Twelve weeks of essays about creativity, activities, reflection, and learning, it is itself a work of art. Her book presents a process proven by millions of readers and students who have learned to understand themselves as creative beings whether or not they ever make art. Julia Cameron taught me an important reality – every one of us is creative. How we express our creativity varies widely. Some of us actively ignore or even squelch our creativity. But it’s there in all of us. 

“Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice.” Max DePree, Leadership is an Art

Several years later, I began by my second exploration of The Artist’s Way. This re-read inspired me to develop several leadership workshops and conference sessions designed to help people understand leadership as a creative act. Here are just a few of the ways to understand leading as being creative:

  • Leaders are people who help us create change.
  • Leaders help us move from one situation to the next.
  • People who imagine a different future and help us see it, too are leaders.
  • Leaders work to make a difference in the world around them.
  • Leaders find ways to meet the needs of organizations, communities, and individuals.
  • People who find unique solutions to the problems facing us are leaders.
  • The list of ways leaders are creative is nearly endless.

Julia Cameron doesn’t teach about leadership per se. She teaches and writes about creativity as a central component of our lives. Of everyone’s life. As thousands of others have found, I learned from Julia Cameron that creativity is at the heart of our lives. That means it’s at the heart of our leadership. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned and introduce you to the authors and leaders who have been my creativity teachers. I hope you’ll find them as inspiring as I have.


Leave a Comment