Bamboo: I love it.
It follows a growth structure that is quite different from other plants. Simply put, bamboo doesn’t just grow individual canes straight into the air one at a time. Beneath the surface, the roots branch out sideways, each culm growing a short distance until it shoots off in another direction. Only a few canes shoot through and up.
The best creativity, I believe, grows in this same way. We don’t just start thinking about one idea and follow it in one linear direction. Rather, we put ourselves into the frame of mind to practice some creative disciplines where thoughts can branch out, and then look to recognize when an offshoot of an original idea moves us in a better direction. Each creative burst perpetuates growth. Eventually though the branching of creative thought, one of the bamboo shoots is worth chasing.
I watch the pace that we all seem to be running in our lives and I know the first thing to be cut is creative time to explore.
What would it mean for our lives if we were dedicated to setting aside time to just be, think, and create?
Stimulating creative moments in your own life can begin by consciously deciding to do the little things in life differently. As an exercise, try re-arranging the order of the way you begin your day, take a different route to work, pick a new spot for lunch, spend a couple of minutes searching for a subject online you know nothing about, or spend your evening free of the normal routine of dinner, TV, crossword puzzle, bed.
I’m not sure why it took so long for someone to come up with the idea that a ketchup bottle could be reoriented so the open end is at the bottom of the bottle. For years, people shook the glass bottle, hit the bottom, or smacked the little “Heinz 57” logo. Finally, someone asked the brilliant question, “Why don’t we just turn the bottle upside down and let gravity do its work?”
Questions like that are ready to be asked at this very moment in your organization, personal life, and family. Create an ethic of creativity to invite continuous questions, celebrate ideas and be willing to try things differently.
Shake things up. Make like bamboo. And see where your creativity leads you.
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim, ReMember, and the newly released book Thermostat Cultures, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
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