The limitations of yourself

Some things over the last couple of days have really got me thinking about the mindset certain roles seem to attract. Which is bizarre as it makes no sense to think in this way. But, it almost seems gospel that if you don’t think this way, there’s something wrong with you. What am I talking about? The lack of a creative mindset.

There are individuals in abundance, and professions aplenty that can claim the are by nature creative. That is, they do things which inspire others in some form. Their creations are a thing of wonder and to be admired. Lofty words and even loftier ideals, no? No. A course we run at LBi, called Unlocking Your Creativity is delivered by our Chief Creative Officer, Chris Clarke. I’ve seen him deliver this session many a time and it never fails to inspire. But not because he’s telling people of all the wonderful creative activities and things he does, but because he gives people the understanding of what they can do to be creative themselves.

And that’s what so many individuals absolutely miss. Forget individuals, groups of people seem to accept that only those who do creative work can be creative. The normal missives are along the lines of “Oh, but they do creative work daily, so they are better than me”, “It’s not my role to be creative, so why should I be?”, “I’m too busy to be creative, I’ve got things to get done”. And that’s fine they want to think like this. They’re only limiting themselves.

But to think that those missives are fact is simply untrue. Einstein, one of the world’s most renowned scientists created a theory of relativity. He was no ‘creative’ by nature, but certainly was able to create something which had stood the test of time. Your local builder goes out everyday and builds something to look and feel right. He’s not creative in the least, but he’s doing something to inspire and make a better living for someone else. Your local baker creates cakes for you to eat and enjoy. Hardly a creative role where it’s a matter of mixing dough with other ingredients. Yet what he produces is enjoyed by so many. The local dustbin man is a wonder at keeping the streets clean. He does nothing creative. Yet he helps to create an environment in which we would all be proud to live in through his hard graft.

And then there’s the office worker. The stalwart of administration. The one who scoffs at the idea that they can be creative. The one who is quick to dismiss any new style of thinking or new possibilities. They fail to realise they also create something every day, and they have the freedom to do so much more. The reports, the updates, the emails, the work plans, are all things which others interact with. And they can all benefit from some creativity. But they just tie themselves into these neat little packages of security and don’t want to attempt something different because it’s just not the done thing.

My old boss gave us the permission to be creative, and instilled in us the seed that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to what we think has to be done. And that’s my challenge to you all. If you recognise these traits in your team, and wish for them to be better, first question yourself – have you created the right environment for creativity to happen? Not necessarily physical environment, but the team environment and atmosphere.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “The limitations of yourself”

  1. Great post, love the attitude! I believe we are responsible for encouraging each other to try stuff. With some practice, encouragement and persistence there is creativity in all of us. Most importantly we must learn to be tolerant of the mistakes which creativity brings.

    1. Some great points made Doug, especially about the patience of mistakes. Have you seen Meet the Robinsons? It’s a Disney movie, and there’s a motto the family have – Keep Moving Forward. The line was said by Walt Disney himself in a message to his staff. It’s a great line, and I think captures what you’re saying here.

  2. Unlocking your creativity… who locked it up in the first place?

    We are all fundamentally creative in every sense of the word. Yet most of our formal education is spent not on valuing creativity but on getting the known answer correct or performing in a tried and tested manner. The word creative is only ever associated with the arts or invention. It is held apart from normal life as something we can’t do unless “you are creative”.

    We then often fall into work roles where a task or process needs to be performed correctly in a tried and tested manner… Little wonder that creativity in the workplace is something that needs stimulation.

    So I’d add to your challenge Sukh… I’d ask are you hiring people who need to overcome a conditioned reluctance to be creative? Is permission to be creative really required from you? Have you inadvertently asked your staff not to be creative, to deny their fundamental nature?

    Then stimulate that brain for the purpose it was designed for!

    1. You’re bang on the mark there David. The work environment is not supportive or conducive to creativity in the main. Even in the industry I work in, there are stark differences in how different disciplines see their roles and responsibilities when it comes to creativity. We almost institutionally mandate that it has to be that way too. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Sukh,
    It’s always a pleasure to read your posts and once again, a thought provoking one to boot!
    Creativity/Initiative call it what you may, I have always believed in giving people the tools to deliver what’s required, though they may not have used the same methods or walked the same path to get there!
    In my own business, although I wouldn’t call either Bronwen (my business partner) or me creative in the traditional meaning of the word, we use creativity every day, every minute to take the business forward.

    In its simplest form, we come up with solutions that are required to get us from A to B in the most efficient, cost effective way, giving our Clients the maximum benefit at the end of it! So if that is creativity, well, you won’t find more creative people than Bronwen and me! 🙂

    1. Hi Bina, thanks for your kind comment. And you’ve got the spirit of what I am trying to say here perfectly. We attach such meaning to what it means to be creative, that a lot of people fail to realise that they do this already and have the capacity to continue doing so.

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