Creativity Coaching & Corporate Culture

Dear Cultivate & Create followers,

I’m sorry I’ve been absent!

I’ve spent the past week or two reassessing, rejuvenating and reinspiring. As the last post notes we’re also repositioning here at The Creativity Campus.

Part of this means marketing less, learning more and creating in our own lives to better inform our understanding of clients. That said I wanted to share with you some amazing developments.

We’ve begun one on-one-creativity coaching this week. This work, aimed at those who are struggling in some way to bring their best ideas to life, is incredibly fulfilling and interesting.

Though very flexible it currently entails a weekly meeting (in person or on the phone) with a client to discuss their work and their concerns. From there we offer support and strategies to help address the obstacles.  These can come as routines, activities or simple conversations. The programs are custom fit to each client and their needs.

Right now I’m working primarily with writers and designers but this coaching is also intended for entrepreneurs, CEOs and professionals whose work is dependent on coming up with or presenting ideas.

It is also beneficial for those who are looking for stimulation or support when developing corporate strategies or workplace processes that call for innovation at a deep level. So much of this is about environment, staff programs and leadership so it often includes office visits and work with relevant staff members.

With this in mind I have spent the morning mentoring a new cohort of entrepreneurs at a local incubator. It was incredibly inspiring. The energy and openness of the founders was infectious and I feel very lucky to be working with such a great group of smart and ambitious people.

As part of this experience I spoke much about corporate culture and the importance of leadership and passion. When I got back to my office I opened one of my favourite blogs and read this article, 30 Lessons for Living.

It’s full of great points collected from thousands of interviews with “the wisest Americans”. So much resonated but the advice on work was particularly interesting.

Find Happiness at Work

One of the most striking points is what the thousand-plus experts didn’t say.

No one— not a single person out of a thousand— said that  to be happy you should try to work as hard as you can to make money to buy the things you want.

No one— not a single person— said it’s important to be at least as wealthy as the people around you, and if you have more than they do it’s real success.

No one— not a single person— said you should choose your  work based on your desired future earning power.

You need Interpersonal Skills

Their consensus: no matter how talented you are, no matter  how brilliant— you must have interpersonal skills to succeed.

Everyone Needs Autonomy

Career satisfaction is often dependent on how much autonomy  you have on the job. Look for the freedom to make decisions and move in directions that interest you, without too much control from the top.

So much of what matters when one looks at successful corporate culture is soft skills based. It’s not about firmly quantifiable metrics or dollar based CBAs. Culture is what makes employees love their work and want to stick around to make sure it’s delivered in the best possible way. It’s what helps them feel proud of their achievements and encourages them to band together as a team to address challenges when times get tough.

The best leaders recognize that amazing human capital is the most rare commodity and that holding on to it is difficult and important. They invest in professional development and recognize their employees are unique and human and have a range of needs and priorities that should be acknowledged.

I’m not suggesting that companies should spend willy nilly, handhold excessively or indulge unreasonable demands or poor attendance however it is often meeting the smallest requests (like flexible work hours) or instituting seemingly tiny sentimental incentives (acknowledgement for an imaginative idea, strong pitch or effective community building event) that fosters the greatest loyalty.

The advice above really reflects that.  People want to love the company they work for, to enjoy their office and to feel ownership and pride in their work and the fact is – the CEO, company or founder is the first to reap the rewards if they do.

Thanks for subscribing and for being patient with our Campus as it grows. We love our work and helping our clients achieve their dreams.

Do get in touch with any questions, curiosity or feedback – we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Tuesday!

Laura

30 Lessons For Living

My Creative Experiment – 7 Days of Silence

So – seven days, no speaking.

I woke up in the middle of the night to turn on the air conditioning and fend off the inevitable Toronto humidity and realized that I was technically allowed to speak.

I had no desire to do so.

One would think I’d have hummed a little song, made a big noise or at least tested out a sentence but in this week I’ve realized that for a person who speaks so much I really do enjoy the quiet.

There’s something in the stillness, in the discipline, that brings a sort of peace and steadiness that I’ve never experienced before. It brings a calm that is foreign to my overactive mind and mouth.

Though it’s been frustrating and at times lonely it’s also been a gateway into my own passions, communication and relationships.

The inability to speak leaves limitless space for others to express themselves. Sitting back and watching another inhabit that space, occupy a verbal place that is shared but that they are the only actor in is actually quite beautiful.

It seems that the small nuances are magnified. In myself all of the little reactive noises that I make are amplified and my actions and expressions are bigger and more dramatic. Yesterday reconnected me with my love of acting, of physical excitement and creation. But in others I witnessed other amazing characteristics grow larger and more evident.

My mother’s generosity, warmth and kindness exploded as the week passed. Her fierce love was still ever present but, typically quiet and subtle, her support was more expressed.

On Wednesday I went for tea and a movie with my best friend and realized we didn’t need language. Only a few moments in we were laughing and joking and she too was communicating mostly in gestures. It felt so good to know that even without words we have so much and can spend hours together loving the company and laughing from our bellies. Our friends, as chosen family, are such an incredible gift and it was amazing to have this chance to really witness the power of our friendship in small but significant glory.

Last night was spent with someone new(ish). I think both of us were quite concerned that it would be awkward, spending hours together when I couldn’t speak, being so close to the start of our friendship but it was really wonderful.

Not being able to verbalize responses, leaving more space for his expression and focusing our interaction outward brought out a side of him that I’d not seen before. It brought out mutual silliness, new forms of expression and shared stillness. It was so much fun.

I’m not sure that this is doing such a great job of explaining my experience of silence. Maybe I’m still too close to it or maybe it isn’t meant to be expressed in words but I am proud that I made it through and I am happy that it’s over.

As a creative exercise it’s been deeply valuable and I’m excited to start creating – to paint, to sing, to write and move with this in my physical and experiential memory. I already feel it lending fresh energy to my life and my perspective.

I’ll definitely do it again, but maybe next time it will be outside of the city. I get the feeling that being surrounded by nature, by quiet and earthly beauty will bring a whole new experience to the fore, allowing for more active creation, for the work to be the focus rather than the result.

Happy weekend beauties, I hope you get out in the sunshine and remember to play…

xx

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Here’s a great video with 29 easy suggestions presented with compelling typography by TO-FU… Why not try some of them out today?

29 ways to stay creative

What’s Your Shake? Limitations & Creativity

Embracing limitations can open up incredible creative horizons…

Here’s a great TED talk from an artist who used a physical ailment expand his artistic expression instead of crushing it

Also – Doors Open is on today in Toronto, maybe you should explore in the sunshine??

 

Embrace the Shake

 

Creativity in Action: Arvind Gupta

Creativity in action comes on Friday this week because it is particularly fun. Arvind Gupta is an amazingly resourceful an who takes throwaway objects and creates toys to bring joy to children in India.

Check out his story and his plethora of enchanting ideas for everyday objects….

Happy Friday!!

Absolutes, Definitions and Limitations

It’s so easy to speak in absolutes – people are optimists or downers, they are hard workers or smart or lazy or outgoing.

It’s natural for us to want to define one another, and ourselves, but it’s also dangerous. The more I delve into the psychology of creativity and innovation the more I encounter the inherent complexity of humans. Our stories are powerful and varied with many sides and voices. Well-formed stories can represent our values, our social norms and our cultural viewpoints all in the space of a few lines of text.

Think for a moment – what adjectives do you use to describe yourself? Are there many? Are they contradictory? Where are they sourced from?

There was an interesting moment one day last week when I found myself  admonishing myself for not spending enough time with someone important to me. Automatically I was calling myself a bad friend. The thing is though, if I were to be speaking to anyone else I would have the logical mind to remind him or her that starting a business, active learning and maintaining personal and professional relationships takes a lot of time. I would remind that friend that one missed opportunity does not define a person.

In the same way that I am not defined by that experience, people are not one creative or non-creative based on their past actions.

There are so many chances to look at the world differently, to suggest a new or innovative path or process – whether in work, at school or elsewhere in life – that it is unlikely that any of us is non-creative. In fact, it’s more likely that we are trapped in narratives that define creative people only as artists, writers, dancers and those working in “creative” fields like advertising.

Imagine what you could be doing if, from youth, you’d been told that science, accounting, law or banking were also creative fields. What new products, procedures or  revenue streams might you be developing if your mind was more open to the potential for creativity in all professions?

The narratives and stories that we share and those we impose and ourselves and others can be limiting and even dangerous as the video below reveals. In the video below, Chimamanda Adichie uses her experience as an author, a Nigerian and an African student in America to take a look at the power of stories and of definition.

Some more questions for today – What are you imposing on yourself? How could a new perspective free up your ideas your relationships and your mind?

L

The Facts About Creativity

There’s a lot that’s ambiguous about creative work but there are two definites.

1) Creativity takes courage

2) Mistakes are mandatory

In my mind creativity is about coming up with a new idea or approach and expressing it. It is essential to let the work out to the world, to your friends or to your colleagues and that can be really scary.

For most of us our creative lives started when we were little kids with make believe, storytelling and pretend games. The wonderful thing when you watch kids creating is that they really get involved. They see one friend coming up with ideas, performing or acting silly and they get right into it themselves. There is no time made for thoughts other than – “That looks fun!” or “I have an idea too!”.

Really, they have yet to grow the part of their social brain that says “Keen isn’t cool” or “What if I make a mistake? That would be embarrassing.”

This is why creativity is ballsy. It’s why it’s work. We have to fight the experiences of our past and discouraging voices that make us want to stay quiet.

The great thing about doing workshops (I was at an amazing Tom Schlesinger one this weekend) is that you realize that you are not at all alone in this. We all want to express ourselves in some way and we’re all kinda freaked out by actually doing it.

Much of the reason I get worked up is that I’m used to striving for absolute perfection. The thing is, that’s impossible in life and even more impossible in creativity. One thing I keep noticing though is that the more that I am brave, the more mistakes I’m ok with making, the more those around me get into it. The more they try, the more they express themselves and the more they realize that mistakes can be silly and fun but they can also be valuable in both work and life.

The most important part of creativity is taking risks and making mistakes.  Original work means there will be nothing to compare it against in order to define the standards of perfection. We’ve been trained against it, but really, do you think symphonies are written in one try? Great novels in one draft? Amazing businesses with the first plan or executed task? We are supposed to learn as we go.

What makes it easier is that original work comes from inside of each of us and is a result of our own mix of experiences, knowledge, passions and, sometimes, pain. This means we’re not only hardwired to create because we’re human but we have all of the material we need to make completely unique work!

I know we’re not all artists or writers or actors or ad men but we are all human and there are creative ways to do math, walk dogs, write news, deliver papers and approach our businesses.

Today join me in my challenge and find a way to stray from your comfort zone and be courageous with your ideas.

Trial and error is recognized everywhere else – why not give it a chance in your life too?