As I say in Awakening Your Creative Voice, I’d like to help you “just begin”. Here are two offerings for you: 1) a short narrative and scenario with some suggestions and a checklist, and 2) Unlock Your Creative Mind, a set of tools that I’ve borrowed from Generative Leadership/Shaping New Futures for Today’s Schools (Klimek, Ritzenhein & Sullivan, 2008, Corwin Press). Most of these tools originally came from business leaders, and all are focused on creative problem solving, generative (creative) leadership and personal change. All are pertinent for developing creative leadership skills for women. I’ve used them myself over the years for leadership facilitation and personal work. I offer them as possibility tools for unlocking your creative mind.
You’ll also find a download of Inside-Out, Building Your Creativity Muscle for use as a chart graphic for planning, journaling, dialogue or sharing with others. Please feel free to use it in whatever way you choose. Just mention where it comes from, please.
Inside-Out: A Short Personal Narrative and Suggestions
Janet, a friend in her late 40’s, arranged a lunch to talk with her mother so that they could discuss issues around Janet’s childhood abuse. This was a very difficult situation that had been negated over the years, and it had become a block for Janet’s positive energy and creative work. After attending a series of sessions in a workshop on intuition along with many sessions with the EGroup, a creative energy group that I lead, Janet had developed several tools and plans for personal growth and creativity and found that this time she was able to listen to her mother’s story. Janet could own her own energy and hear her more compassionate inner voice. She had learned that once she was more positive and open, she could allow the child within to release trauma and heal. She believes that her immediate family is her master teacher, and she was hearing only the negative in her mother’s perspective and closing down any possibility of healing or seeing with new eyes. Opening to compassion and gratitude, being mindful, seeing both sides of the issue and improvising with her responses during the conversation, Janet could play with ideas that she had not been aware of in the past and take the risk of changing. As a result of her personal work with her mother, her own inner being and creative problem solving over time prompted her to allow a new life to move forward.
What Janet learned from this experience and how she transferred the learning to a professional situation:
Janet has a new position in the shipping department of a large company. A co-worker recently had an altercation with another employee. This co-worker had been with the company for a long period of time and had worked his way up through the shipping department. He was frustrated with various problems within the department and believed that he had little power to influence change. Altercations with other employees had happened before, more than once. This time he was immediately fired. Janet experienced a great deal of empathy for her co-worker and did not feel that his firing was the proper solution to the problem.
When I asked what she would have done had she been a creative supervisor, she said:
“I would have talked with other workers who were familiar with the situation and problem-solved a better solution. LISTENING AND BEING OPEN TO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES are keys to coming to a different decision with the problem. I learned that with the conversation with my mother. Had the supervisor been more inclusive and more positive, we would not have had to lose a good worker who could have contributed to a better solution. Through our dialogue, we may have come to both understand his perspective and find a way to solve other problems within the department.”
Awareness matters. Listening, checking assumptions, checking the context of the situation (personal and professional) means slowing down, being reflective, looking around and seeing both sides of a problem. It means approaching with both head and heart, or masculine and feminine, if you will. It means exploring possibilities.
Janet has a good beginning. I would offer a few more thoughts:
- Who are you as a creative being? This is a critical question to ask yourself as you begin. Knowing the answer gives you permission to be more open, intuitive, improvisational and mindful within every problem or situation that arises. Spend some time thinking and feeling this question. Write about it in your journal. Talk about it if you wish. Asking “Who am I?”allows you to speak with your authentic voice. Finding that voice makes a difference.
- Finding the right beginning can be crucial. Be willing to be patient and curious. Play with possibilities. Know whether it is crucial to make a quick decision. If you wish to move beyond managing and become a creative leader, be aware that creative solutions take time. How much do you know about those on your team? How do they feel and how do they do their best creative work? What is the essence of the problem? Is there more than one option for a solution? What are the possibilities?
- Resistance and frustration are part and parcel of any work situation, as they are within creative work. Learn to know what is happening inside you that might get in the way of creative solutions. Listen to your “inside talk” and to your intuition. Intuition is the soul of a woman, and our leadership is better because of it. It’s about head and Do what you know is best. When you find your authentic voice, be sure to listen.
When you are willing to begin, consider this checklist. Then make your own.
- I know who I am as a creative being. I have devoted time and effort to reflection and learning about creativity and creative problem solving for me. I know that being creative begins with me.
- I am attentive and aware of others in my personal life and on my team at work. I focus on their state of being, their problem solving capacity and their creativity.
- I listen. I am aware that being mindful, slowing down, reflecting and writing or documenting my thoughts and feelings in some way will influence my capacity to be more creative.
- I confront the internal resistance that I know will be part of my creativity, and I am willing to take action to perform or ship and begin again.
- I am developing tools and plans, as always. And….I am playing with ideas and will be willing to take risks to find a better solution. If there is failure, I want to fail forward, assess and begin again.
Ideas and processes for exploring your beginning from the inside-out are available in Awakening Your Creative Voice: Women in a World of Possibility. I encourage you to go deeper and find your true voice for creativity in your life and your work.
Remember: Creativity is intelligence having fun.