The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Continuing To Be Creative

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There are many ways to do creative work. One approach is to clarify when you feel creative and how you can follow your creative style in the future. Let’s explore how to make this happen.

Clarifying When
You Feel Creative

When do you feel creative? Here are some answers that people gave to this question.

I feel creative when I am:

Doing stimulating projects … Studying success … Singing to an appreciative audience … Writing articles first thing in the morning … Working with my hands … Designing workshops and putting together the materials.

Letting ideas sink in when going for a walk … Listening to the sound of water … Giving myself time to think on a long train journey … Studying data and looking for patterns … Building models that make sense of what I am studying.

Different people have different ideas about creativity. Some believe that it is the province of artists, writers and musicians. Many other people, however, believe that everybody is creative.

Friedrich Froebel, the pioneering educator, believed in the second approach. This led to him giving birth to the kindergarten – the children’s garden.

He believed that children needed a place where they could be cherished, stimulated and helped to flourish.

Friedrich first used the word kindergarten in 1840, He wrote:

“Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”

He believed that children learned through play. But he also designed educational materials that children could use to develop their abilities. He wrote:

“The mind grows through self-revelation … Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.

“A child who plays and works thoroughly, with perseverance until physical fatigue forbids will surely be a thorough, determined person, capable of self-sacrifice.”

Friedrich’s ideas spread across the globe. These influenced the upbringing of people such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Enid Blyton and Bertrand Russell.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother, for example, bought some Froebel building blocks during a visit to Philadelphia in 1876. These blocks were designed to provide play activities using geometric forms, patterns and constructions.

Writing in his autobiography, Wright recalled how these childhood learning experiences stayed with him throughout his life. He wrote:

“The maple wood blocks … are in my fingers to this day.”

If you wish try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe when you feel most creative.

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Clarifying Your
Creative Style

Looking back on your life, can you think of times when it felt like you were doing creative work?

You may have been constructing a house, designing a boat, gathering data and making a breakthrough, preparing for and delivering a presentation, co-ordinating people’s talents to achieve a goal or whatever.

What was the process you followed to do the work? There are many models that explore the creative process.

Some highlight how people go through the stages of Imagination, Implementation and Impact. Some focus on Clarity – clarifying the real results to achieve – Creativity and Concrete Results.

Kiran Bir Sethi is the founder and director of the remarkable Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. They educate children to take charge of their lives and continue to be creative. You can discover more about the school at their web site.

http://www.schoolriverside.com/

Kiran promotes the world’s largest Design for Change School Contest. This mobilises over 200,000 children from 30 countries across the Globe. It encourages them to design solutions for their country’s most challenging problems.

The children are encouraged to follow the design process of Feel, Imagine, Do and Share.

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Feel

They focus on something they feel passionately about. They may want to clean up a local river, help friends get home safely, raise money for an orphanage or whatever.

Imagine

They focus on their chosen topic and search the world for best practice. They go through the creative process of opening up – gathering lots of information – and then closing down. They settle on their specific goal and clarify their picture of success.

Do

They do the work. Some young people report that this is the hardest phase. Why? They come from a generation that, when bored, is used to skipping to the next web page. The young people say that learning persistence can be one of the greatest lessons from the project.

Share

They share their learning with the world. They share the success stories with other schools via video links and at worldwide conferences. They find that needing to present the stories ensures they work hard to deliver the picture of success.

Let’s return to your way of doing creative work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe two examples of when you felt you were doing creative work.

Describe the specific things you did on each of these occasions – and the kinds of conditions you had around you – that helped you to do creative work.

Describe what you believe may be your creative style.

Looking at the two examples you have given, can you see any recurring patterns? These can give clues to your creative style.

It can be, of course, that you have two different styles. One when you are working by yourself, another when you are working with other people.

How to find your style? The key question to ask is:

What did you actually do to follow your process for doing creative work?

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One person summarised their style in the following way.

My Creative Style Is:

I focus on something I feel passionately about.

I gather information and create a picture of the end goal.

I relax, let the thoughts sink in and create a plan for achieving the picture.

I set a deadline for completing the work – because I work better with deadlines.

I organise my working time in blocks – be it hours, days or weeks – so that I have time to absorb myself in the work.

I make the best use of my prime times – the times of the day when I have most energy – to do the perspiration part and perform the work.

I go for walks during the day to freshen my perspective and these sometimes lead to creative breakthroughs.

I am persistent and, like a sculptor chipping away at a giant stone, keep going until the work feels finished.

I know the work is ready when it looks right, feels right and I can say to myself: “Yes, I have done my best.”

I relax for a while – then focus on the next thing I feel passionately about.

Continuing To Do
Creative Work

Let’s imagine you know when you feel creative and also some elements of your creative style. How can you continue to do creative work in the future?

There are many models for making this happen. One approach invites you to focus on My Perfect Project.

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Project

Describe the characteristics of the kind of project you find stimulating. You may enjoy launching prototypes, doing turnarounds, leading superb teams, fixing particular problems, selling to certain kinds of customers or whatever.

People

Describe the characteristics of the people – both customers and colleagues – that you find stimulating.

Place

Describe the characteristics of the place – culture and environment – you find stimulating.

My Perfect Project – Making it Happen

Bearing in mind the answers you have given, describe the specific things you can do to find or create such a project.

As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to do creative work. One approach is to focus on the activities in which you feel creative. It is then to do the things that make it more likely you will do such work.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to do creative work in the future.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for yourself and for other people.

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