How to Tap into your Creative Energy (Part One)

In The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2011), Business Consultant, Advisor and Creator Todd Henry (CEO of “Accidental Creative”) talks about how communication, marketing and business types can nurture creativity in our daily lives. Do you struggle in your organization to find and tap into your creative vein? In this blog posting, the first of a three-part series, we’ll look at a few of Henry’s arguments on how to leverage creativity in your professional organization.

(1) The fundamental reality for everyone is that the creative process (be it writing, designing, or another) has a natural and unavoidable rhythm of ebbs and flows or “peaks and troughs.” If you violate that innate rhythm, whether intentionally or not, you’ll suffer negative “side-effects” like exhaustion, apathy, discontent, boredom, frustration, and a general lack of ideas. Revising your association’s latest “Annual Report” up to the 11th hour can leave you “brain dead,” for days.

(2) Another fundamental reality for Creatives is that you can expect to be regularly in a situation that requires you to generate “brilliant ideas at a moment’s notice.” But no one is brilliant, all of the time. How can you muster good ideas, when you’ve just listened to a deadly dull—or worrying–budget meeting?

(3) Henry describes that there are three major tensions that we confront in creative work:

(i) Time vs. Value
(ii) Predictable vs. Rhythmic and
(iii) Product vs. Process

In the first tension, Henry says that you’re not paid for time, but for the value you create, so that you find yourself working more and more (and slower and slower) while still feeling that our work is “never good enough, all of the time.” This “completion anxiety” has become more the norm than the exception in most associations. A good example is the team-written project that gets weaker from multiple revisions, when everyone intended to improve it.

In the second tension, today’s demand for efficiency doesn’t accommodate the peaks and troughs that form the rhythm of creativity. Yet organizations still have to be brilliant and innovative in their work. This creates a double bind. A good example of this would be you striving to motivate members to attend your next conference, only hours (or minutes) after exhaustively overhauling sections of your website.

And in the third tension, as an organization, you can often obsess over the final “product” or outcome, when in reality creativity happens as a process. Many associations exhaust themselves, generating ideas and vetting the finished product. But they spend very little energy in creating a healthy operations’ process, with reasonable expectations for how, and how long, the leg-work of the project will take—what Henry calls “the long process between idea and product.”

Henry notes that it’s important as a Creative not to ignore the “warning signs” that you’re “violating the natural rhythm of the creative process.” Remembering time, rhythm and process in your work are key to nurturing the creativity that you need, quickly and repeatedly. In my next posting, I’ll take you further into The Accidental Creative, to consider other barriers to creativity experienced by many organizations today.

For now: thanks for reading! Comments or questions? Please use my “contact” page to be in touch—I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.