- Schedule time to be creative. Nothing can be less creative than meetings. So, book time to be creative.
- Turn off the distractions – email, computer, tv, twitter, youtube. Sometimes this is all we need to do to have the space to be creative.
- Change the music. Select your music around the idea you are creating. Music is powerful.
- Find some magazines. Magazines blend culture, art, photography and story. They inspire. They also are full of advertising intended to spark emotion and get attention.
- Change the canvas – Go work someplace different.
- Force yourself to use different tools. Breaking your pattern or formula will make you way better. Use tools that are foreign to you in an effort to find a new way of doing what you do. Force creativity.
- Limit yourself – Put yourself on a timer. Remove resources. Force yourself to play inside the lines that aren’t normal in order to be more creative.
- Story-telling – Define the story – more importantly, define the backstory. You have to know the backstory before you can tell the story.
- Collaborate – Invite trusted friends to help you uncover some of the mysteries. Collaboration allows ideas to blossom when done correctly.
- Use Words – Make a list of all the words that remind you of the project you are working on. Then, find out how they tie together. Use them for inspiration.
- Don’t Use Words – Create pictures, draw, or design without words. Figure out how to get the story right without telling the story.
- Edit – Once you have an idea, figure out how to subtract from it. Then, subtract more. Make it as simple as possible.
- Take 15 minutes to focus on another problem or angle. Change your perspective. Walk in someone else’s shoes. It will revolutionize how you see your situation.
- Step away – Do nothing for 15 minutes. Leave the project alone and untouched for 24 hours. The more time we give our ideas to breathe, the better we can be at making them right.
- Ask 5 questions – Why? Who? How? What if? Instead of? These 5 questions will get you to the bottom of things pretty quick.
Our team is adopting a new philosophy that we feel is very audacious:
“Every Day is a Chance to Create Art & History”.
Sunday does not happen on Sunday, it happens Monday through Saturday. We create and work every day for the chance to share our art on Sunday. A chance to help communicate a loving, caring, grace filled God with a hurting world. Not for arts sake…for the lives of lost people. We get to serve communicators with worship elements. I love what Gary Molander says about art in his book Pursuing Christ Creating Art: “Art is our opportunity to to make an invisible God visible.”
So, we show up. Every day.
We do our work.
We create, we dream, we build. We do all we can.
Then, on Sunday, we pray that the skin we have created for an invisible God resonates with someone who needs Grace, Hope, Love – someone who needs art to make the invisible, visible.
Today is your chance. Create art. Make history. Be audacious. Do your best work. Create your best art. Stop worrying if you are accepted. Of course you’re not…you’re an artist. Stop buying excuses. Stop believing that the artificial boundaries around you can contain you. Be courageous. This is your time. This is your moment. Forget being normal. Be the authentic you that God created first…in HIS image.
When we do this, we are helping to make the invisible things in our world visible. If we’re lucky, we will see our art make history – not for us – for someone who needs to see or feel God.
Are you ready to make art & history?
How can you do that today?
No one has ONLY good ideas. Stop buying that lie. We all have ideas; some of them are good and some are bad – that’s life. Accept it.
We must avoid the temptation to become “idea snobs”. Even bad ideas have potential and a place in our creative process.
Every idea deserves the chance to reach its potential. The good ones, the REALLY good ones, stay with us and have to be acted on. But, sometimes the mediocre – or bad – ideas get tossed to the curb and left for dead. Inside some of those bad ideas could be the potential for future successful ideas. How can we tell?
- Write every idea down. Document them. Have a place to come back to them.
- Always give ideas space. Good or bad, they need space to breathe and grow. The worst practice we can have as creative people is moving on ideas right when they are developed. Sometimes we have to, but it’s not a “Best Practice”.
- Allow ourself the freedom to change an idea or use it later. Just because it’s not good for today does not mean it never will work.
- What adjustments can be made to these average ideas to make them become great ideas?
- Maybe these ideas challenge us to ask questions and come out of our problem or production from a different angle.
- Play with a bad idea. Flush it out. Something great might come out of it as we talk through how it would or would not work.
- Share these ideas. Sharing them scares us, but just talking through them can cause your creative community to respond and birth a newer or better version of the idea. Never hold back. Creating in community can save even the worst idea if it spurs a new best idea.
Who does not love a start? Starts are full of energy, ideas, hope and optimism. Starting is invigorating. But, what happens when we lose the adrenaline from the start?
For ideas to be successful, we have to not only be great starters, but effective finishers. Finishing ideas takes longevity. Longevity is birthed out of a commitment to continuing. We have to find consistency in our approach. Longevity means getting up, coming to work, being diligent, and refusing to settle for mile markers while we drive to the finish line. Creative people love starting, but we often get bored, discouraged, or distracted before finishing. There are a million reasons why, and a lot of them are legit.
Don Schlitz – a famous country songwriter who penned “The Gambler” – was involved in the country music hall of fame inductions here in Nashville just a few nights ago. During his time, Schlitz talked about how success comes to those who live in the 2%, which is especially true in the creative community. The reason that the 2% seem elite is because they stick around. You see, 98% of people quit, give up, get discouraged or distracted, or just lose interest. The road to success – or successful ideas – isn’t a road filled with applause. It’s a road that is desperate for travelers who are resilient.
2% people subscribe to the following:
- Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.
- Showing up is 99% of the equation to achieving.
- Getting up again is more important than how many times you get knocked down.
- Longevity is the new sexy.
- Excuses are weak; results earn respect.
- Keep coming back.
- Keep showing up.
- Understand that achieving the goal is as much about perspiration as it is about inspiration.
- Fight distractions.
- Refuse the seduction of the “new” new.
- We have to stay and when we get weak, stay longer.
- Remember the goal and don’t be consumed by the circumstances that surround them.
- Respond before others react.
- Commit to marathons…even when they are sprints.
- Know that hustling is about a mentality, not a work ethic
Be present. Today. Now. Tomorrow. Stop worrying about what is going to happen in 18 months. Be sure you are showing up and giving your best ideas. Commit to being a 2%er. If you can’t make that commitment where you are right now, find that place so you can start building your longevity.
Corporations/organizations are desperate for truly creative people to step forward and inspire innovation.
Corporations and organizations are desperate for truly creative people to step forward and inspire innovation.
The WSJ recently ran a post journaling the ways innovation is being embraced in corporate America. For all the creative space corporate America is yielding, I believe the church is actually attempting to
make the same push. More and more of us are being surrounded and empowered to innovate and create. With the challenge to create, healthy organizations also create a culture where creative people are given the permission to
fail. “Failure, and how companies deal with failure, is a very big part of innovation,” says Judy Estrin, founder of seven high-tech companies and author of a book on innovation. Failures caused by attempting to
create and innovate must be permitted. However, sloppy failure – failure that is caused by not executing – destroys the equity we are trying to build with our bosses and organizations. Estrin went on to
say that “If employees try something that was worth trying and fail, and if they are open about it, and if they learn from that failure, that is a good thing.”
Some companies like GREY NEW YORK, an advertising agency, even have a quarterly “Heroic Failure Award”. This is an award given to employees who are willing to take big risks. The entire purpose for handing out this award is to keep employees taking risks. With success comes the temptation to play it safe. Again, reward risk and failure, not laziness. Creative professionals need permission to fail so we can create our best work. Regardless of what happens in the end, we have to reward risky ideas if we desire to break the clutter that exists in our culture.
“Many people succeed at producing innovations because they churn out a very large number of ideas, both good and bad,” says Dean Keith Simonton, a psychology professor at the University of California. He is so
passionate about people failing for innovations sake that he believesthe best innovators produce ideas consistently. “The most successful people tend to be those with the most failures.”
But what do we do when we fail? How do we turn our failure into future successes?
When we fail, we need to quickly regroup and address what caused this particular idea to not succeed? Was it the idea, the execution, user error, or maybe the system? We must identify if this particular idea can be further developed to possibly being a future success. It is vital that when we take a risk and fail that we own that failure, embrace it, and don’t try to hide it. If we are going to learn to leverage our failure and
not lose equity, we have to develop trust, honesty, and expectations.
In his book “The Accidental Creative”, Todd Henry is quoted as saying:
“The Love Of Comfort Is Frequently The Enemy Of Greatness.” I could not
agree more. Comfort allows us to get lazy. When we are comfortable, it makes
it very hard for us to find that hunger that once drove us. A major part
of our inspiration to do amazing work is the drive and hunger to
accomplish or achieve our goals. What are some signs we are getting
1. We start to believe we have arrived. Comfort makes us believe we
have made it to some type of level or finish line. When we get comfortable
we stop hustling and take for granted the success we have been blessed with.
2. We stop believing there is more we can accomplish.* Comfortable
removes the challenge. When we were hungry, we were challenged by our jobs
and opportunities. The minute we stop having vision, we have embraced a
3. We forget there is someone who is better than us. Being
comfortable breeds arrogance.
4. We stop being teachable. There is always more we can learn,
uncover, develop, and be taught. When we stop being teachable, we start
regressing – both creatively and as a leader.
5. We forget there is someone who wants what we are taking for granted. When
we are hungry, we are hunters. We are chasing opportunity and challenge. We
look for things to accomplish. When we become comfortable, we become the
hunted. We position ourselves in a place where we stop chasing and start
6. We lose sight of the fact that we are responsible to steward our
resources, leadership, and talents. When we stop stewarding, we start
grazing. Leadership and creativity are a gift. We are responsible for them
and when we stop doing what it takes to manage them, we start to lose the
equity we have built.
7. We lose intensity. This one is scary. When we lose intensity, we
don’t have the ambition to make adjustments, fight, and enhance our
worlds. Intensity makes us get up excited in the morning to come face
the challenges because we have vision for what we get to accomplish. A loss
of intensity often can be traced back to a loss of clarity of vision
or expectation. Intensity is something we get to control. So we have to make
sure we are keeping it high.
8. *Rather than creating, we remix stuff we have already created.* Simple
as that. We start mailing it in and get a little lazy. We trade
the excitement of creating for the comfort of completing.
Greatness is special. Greatness makes people leave talking about the things
we create. We have the ability to create really great things if we are
willing to do the work required to push for excellence in the last 10%.
Everyone starts well, but greatness happens when we plan, execute,
and finish with the same passion that we start.
Working in creative environments is a lot like doing improv. The best improv artists have the ability to adapt, morph and work the curves that are thrown at them everyday. In her book, Bossy Pants, Tina Fey talks about the 4 rules of improv. It is amazing how much these same rules apply to our creative teams.
RULE 1. Start with yes. Starting with yes is the rule of engagement. Saying yes opens opportunity. It is popular to say no or have a no list, but no removes options that deserve a chance to be uncovered. We can always say no later but the rule of yes is a rule that opens options for our teams and organizations. Yes allows us to experience, learn, and uncover new things. The rule of yes also forces us to respect other people’s positions and their creations. People who lead with no are often full of fear and unwilling to experiment. No people also have a propensity for excuses. Saying no shuts the door on opportunity before we have given it a chance. Say yes first knowing we can always say no later.
RULE 2. Yes and –. “Yes and” forces us to move from listeners to contributors. Contributing is a gift and an honor. When we contribute we are adding to the equation something of our own…and a small piece of our DNA is inserted into the collective creation. We should not be afraid to contribute. God has created us in his image…to be creative like the Creator. It is our responsibility to use the unique gifts and perspectives that God has bestowed upon us in order to make art and history everyday.
RULE 3. Make Statements. Obviously questions are a fantastic way of uncovering data but once the questions have been asked leaders understand the power of making statements. If we desire to be part of the solution we have to be willing to make statements. Often the make more of a statement than any word we could ever say. How we hustle speaks volumes to our teams. We set our own personal tone that will set the tone for those around us. Just being part of the process and helping the process develop is a statement. Unfortunately, often times we sometimes fear making statements because we know that statements force us into a position. Making a statement may not make us right but it identifies us as willing to do what it takes to lead and be our best.
RULE 4. There are no mistakes, only opportunities. Opportunities surround us daily. When we are trying to do things that are going to break the status quo we have to understand failure is part of the equation. When we miss step, or things get messy, we create opportunities to fail, retry and recover. Amazing does not happen without the occasional failure. Sometimes these opportunities may hurt but without them we will never make the mark we know we have been created to make. Further, we need to look at our obstacles or constraints as opportunities as well. Anything that is keeping us from achieving our goals should be considered an opportunity to learn, adapt, or overcome.
Creative teams must battle entitlement and falling into the trap that they are consistently being abused. As creative professionals we work in fluid environments. The only consistency we should count on is inconsistency. The rules of improv can help us learn to be more flexible and adjustable. Our job is not to always be right but to daily make the departments and communicators around us better. Creative teams are service departments first. We get the opportunity to support and serve and in doing those things we influence and impact our organization. When we understand that flexibility and service create more space for us than being stubborn, hard to work with, unreliable, and divas, we will have more voice and influence in our organizations than we could ever imagine. Flexibility opens the door for other departments to engage our gifts of creativity and use them to be better than they could on their own.
One of the most amazing things about creativity is how when we are our most creative we get the chance to create something out of seemingly nothing. Creative people see potential where there seems to be nothing of value.
That is what Charity Water does every day. And especially in September. Charity Water has a September Campaign every year to create water out of dust and bring water to thirsty people.
So this September we get to help buy a RIG that will drill wells. It costs 1.2 million dollars for the RIG.
It takes 2 weeks to ship the rig then 2 days to transport it inside of Africa to get the rig to where the first well will be drilled. Charity Water has raised $400k thus far and has even gotten the tariffs and taxes waved in Africa. The only thing keeping thirsty people from water is cash. Would you consider helping?
Check out this video:
President “Teddy” Roosevelt was a phenomenal leader who once said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who at his worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory no defeat.”
Leadership is not easy. As leaders, we are forced to do the things that others won’t or can’t – not because we are better, but because it’s our responsibility.
Leaders are forced to step forward and do the work, get in the arena, and get dirty. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (That’s Hustle.)
Leaders understand failure, but are struggling to stomach it. The taste is so bitter that it drives a leader to do whatever is necessary to not experience that taste again.
Leaders can’t comprehend indifference. Indifference breeds failure. Leaders have no place for indifference in their teams or lives.
Leaders understand you don’t have to always treat people the same, but you always treat people fair.
Leaders don’t point fingers, they uncover solutions. Leaders know that part of leading is doing whatever it takes.
Leaders cast vision, communicate expectations, have hard conversations, and articulate intensity.
Leaders speak when necessary, but understand the deafening power of silence.
Leaders appreciate the efforts of those that are empowered to lead knowing that leadership is about stewardship, not power; that leadership is humbling and a responsibility.
Leaders, even when scared and insecure, step forward and fight. Not for the sake of the fight, but for the sake of the organization they are passionate about because passion supersedes position.
Do you know what you have in common with 1,000 of the most creative people in the world? Everything!
Professor and author Hal Gregersen conducted a study on 7,000 people and identified 1,000 “star creatives” and 6,000 workers. Through the course of the study, the produced results supported the fact that with intentionality around five specific areas, people become more creative and innovative in their tasks and problem solving. The five areas are:
- Question – It’s so important to ask a lot of questions. People are generally too afraid to ask hard questions, or worse, afraid of the answer. Regardless, questions open the mind and the thought process. Questions help us start to engage our best creative angles. Asking questions often uncovers the keys to being creative or to the creative answers. We have to refuse fear. Questions, and their answers, should be embraced. Answers and data can help us see the entire picture and uncover angles we may not have identified.
- Observe – The most creative people in the world take time to observe what is happening around them. Life moves so fast that we often times overlook some of the best inspiration. Observation is a tool we have to perfect. We have to be intentional in paying attention to what is happening around us. When we are observant, we become the creative collectors of ideas and experiences.
- Collaborate – Probably the biggest fear our insecure class of creative individuals has is that someone is going to take advantage of us. Collaboration, when done properly, enhances our ideas. Collaboration builds community. One creative person is great. Three creative people are vicious…if they can stay out of their own way. Collaboration starts and ends with trust. When we have it, we can’t be stopped.
- Experiment – Try some new things. Having permission to fail, try, and explore creates the best creative moments. When we are afraid to experiment, we default to the status quo – or what we know has worked in the past. Both of these options may work, but will never breed innovation. Experimenting provides us the opportunity to not become cut and paste creators, but true innovators in our spaces.
- Find Associations – This task is probably one of the greatest creative exercises ever. Finding unique associations between elements opens our minds like nothing else. This exercise alone can induce our best creativity.
Professor Gregersen found that these five simple practices produced creative sparks in both the “stars” and the “workers.” What separated the classes was not the ability to use these tools, but the environments in which they worked. When people were placed in environments that forced them to approach these traits – environments that put a premium on leadership that supported creative people – the subjects being studied SOARED.
Are we intentionally approaching these 5 traits?
Do our organizations or bosses encourage us to explore these traits?
Are we encouraging our teams to explore these traits?
Do we have the guts to actually do these things and be our best creative selves?