In the most highly-distracted and busy times in the history of the world, I’m often asked how and where creative leaders make time for creativity? Of course, there is no one answer to that question.
But, the question itself reveals something. We are moving so quickly and are often so scattered, which leads to a lack of creativity or room to explore.
This is why I often talk about bamboo when I’m asked to speak about creativity and innovation. The most creative leaders have a continuously flowing process, much like bamboo.
You see, bamboo follows a growth structure that is quite different from other plants. The bamboo “canes,” referred to as culms, grow from a branching underground root structure known as a rhizome (much like grass). The branching underground root structure grows only a short distance before another culm shoots off from it and continues the growth. Simply put, bamboo doesn’t just grow individual “canes” straight into the air one at a time. The roots branch out sideways under the surface, each culm growing a short distance until is shoots off in another direction.
The most creative leaders in the world follow a similar pattern and allow their ideas to wander. It is not as if we can just flip a switch and turn on when we want to be creative. We don’t just think of one idea and then have our train of thought follow in one linear direction. Rather, the most creative leaders have many ideas, thoughts, and meanderings that are wandering all the time. They put themselves into a frame of mind to practice creative disciplines where thoughts can branch out and then look to recognize when an offshoot of an original idea moves them in another direction. Each idea along the way (the good and the bad) all serve a purpose and help stimulate new growth. Each creative burst perpetuates further growth.
Sooner or later, one idea is ready to break free and shoot straight up toward the surface. That one is now ready to follow! (*looking for more on this subject, check out Step Back From The Baggage Claim)
So, what do creative leaders do to stimulate creativity?
- Let Ideas Wander — the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of them! The best creators allow their ideas to meander, build off of previous thoughts, join with others, and not cut them off prematurely. They are patient and allow the idea to move and adapt.
- Carve Out Space & Time — they covet time to smash ideas together and they specifically plan time in their schedule to do so. They “are always thinking and exploring” but still plan time to play with ideas and consider possibilities.
- Challenge Linear Thinking — they seek new ways to do things. They purposefully take new routes to work, try new things, and challenge themselves to see beyond the status quo. They practice seeing everyday things with new eyes.
Good luck on the next leg of your journey! Allow some time to wander.
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at JasonVBarger.com
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