Monday, August 31, 2009
“No matter where you are on the creativity scale the question is how do you get better than that? First of all do you want to get better?
My creative process is to do with play – that’s how I learn – I try 99 things and 99 things don’t work and the 100th thing – I’ve now got it! I’ll just keep on. How do you cope with so much failure – by enjoying the process and that’s where play comes in. It’s the Edison thing – it’s not failure, it’s just another step on the way to getting it sorted. So play is definitely part of it.
But there is another thing in the creative process and that is how do you develop beyond yourself? Once you’ve written that book, written that song, done that painting, recorded that album – how do you then do something else? Some people are happy to write the same book, paint the same picture but most creative people want to go further. I guess its about challenge.
So how do you get beyond your habitual way of doing things. I think play is apart of that too – but I guess it is intentional play. I want to get over there. being open to the process and open to the doors that show themselves.
Another aspect I’m beginning to understand is working within constraints. Why do poets do sonnets? Certain disciplines and sometimes working within the discipline gives you freedom as well. Because there is a large world out there some people are like moths to a flame – they’ll never develop – they’re just going off in whatever direction. So I did The Sound of the Sound album for that reason – to grow beyond my habitual way of doing things. I used tunings I never used before. It’s like building a vocabulary, then learning to talk, then turning off conscious thought then just making it up within the discipline of the tuning I had created. The tuning was the language.
Working with clients – there’s budget restraints and then there’s [perfection – what stage do you say this is good enough. All sorts of decisions – When is the picture painted? When is the album done?
My advice to others? If you’re looking at your art, your craft, your life I would say have fun. You’re not going to be creative if you don’t want to be. So first of all you have to want to be then have fun and then – part of having fun is not doing badly – the more you do it the better you become so part of it is do it, do it, do it, do it but don’t be a perfectionist about – but have high standards. The first thing is to get better than you are - challenge yourself. One way of doing that is working within constraints then finding new constraints."
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I asked Peter to describe how he went about writing the songs for the CD.
"Well I've been doing workshops with children - they write their own songs and I record them and put them on a CD and I give them the CD back. We use a model for that. We talk about the name of their pet, have them describe it and then tell about something that's happened to it. I've got used to thinking about what children think about animals and pets and things."
The inspiration for the songs came from his own childhood experiences, those of his grandchildren as well as from the experiences of the kids who he has worked with.
"I was lying in bed - I got the idea for the cricket ball song [The Cricket Ball Went Over the Fence] - that goes back to my schooldays at the Ormville Primary School where the neighbour used to keep the balls that went over the fence. I started there and thought now I just need another 11 songs. I thought about my grandchildren and they just came. I wrote them then and there - lyrics first - then I put a tune to them because that's what we've been doing with the kids in the workshops. The tunes are borrowed from various sources - I'm not sure where they came from."
Peter has written and produced 2 other CD's for children. You can find more about Peter and Mary and all the creative endeavours they are involved in at http://www.storylink.co.nz/ and if you get the chance to see them perform don't miss it - for kids of all ages!!
This arrived in my in-box from Dan at Coach Creative Space:
There's something exciting happening on CCS I wanted to tell you about...
We're relaunching Thirty Days Of Creating, for September
Thirty Days of Creating is simply that.
Create something, anything, every day for thirty days.
Habits are one of the most powerful ways we can train ourselves to be more like we want to be, and ultimately become happier.
When you do something each and every day for just a couple of weeks, you put in place the foundations for a habit that can last for life.
A habit you can then expand into virtually unlimited potential.
As creative people, the longer we go without creating, the harder it becomes.
So by creating each and every day you can gently stretch your creativity, warm it up and get it in shape, so soon you're creating not just once a day but many times a day, without any effort whatsoever.
You switch your creativity on, call it up, give it permission to gush forth and flood you with creativity!
Thirty Days of Creating is about creating SOMETHING each day. It can be a few lines of poetry, a journal entry, a sketch, a few melodies on a piano, a trip out with your camera taking photos, making a batch of cookies, dancing the night away, and any other of thousands of way of being creative.
What's most important is not WHAT you create but that you CREATE EVERY DAY.
This habit will unlock your creativity in ways you can't imagine.
All this would be very powerful on its own.
But here on CCS you have a whole community of like minded creative artists to share with and have support you and spur you in.
That kind of encouragement is priceless, and the combined energy of the group means each of us create more frequently and fully than we can under our steam, and maybe more than we've done in months, even years...So my fellow artist, are you with us?
Head over to the discussion on CCS and jump aboard!http://budurl.com/30daysSep09
Can't wait to see you there and get started...Happy Creating!
Visit CoachCreativeSpace at: http://coachcreativespace.ning.com
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
"If you chase two rabbits, both will escape."
A useful thought for all creative entrepreneurs.
It can be applied to:- deciding which creative speciality to choose, from all the creative things you can do.- deciding which particular market segment to focus on, rather than trying to appeal to many types of customer.
PS: Another animal to take inspiration from is the Hedgehog.
The book condenses over twenty years' of David's experience of working in creative enterprises, combined with learning from clients and from business school.
[PC - Right click and 'Save Target As' to copy to hard drive.][Mac - Hold down Ctrl and 'Download Linked File'.]
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Source: Mike Moroney on the NZ Folk Digest, Vol 56, Issue 33
Check it out! There's even something in it for us old folks!!
Monday, August 10, 2009
I asked David to talk more about the role that creativity plays in his life.David: I seem to have been involved in creative activities all my life. My earliest recollections are of either colouring in, painting or carving something. I was also heavily involved in singing as a child and performed in choirs and as a soloist either as part of the choir or on stage. I now paint full-time
Wayne: Was there a point in your life when you recognised that you were creative?
David: I suppose that at a very early age. I began to enter colouring competitions maybe as an 8 year old and won a number of prizes. I started painting and getting painting sets when I was 10-11 and even had lessons with a local painter when I was early teens.
When asked how he would describe his creative process David replied: I see interesting and stimulating things that can represent for me social commentary and depict them in paintings.
Wayne: What suggestions would you have for others who want to explore their creativity?
David: For those who are creative in an artistic sense, time must be apportioned to fully understand what that person wishes to achieve either singularly or collectively (with others), ascertain the correct medium to best give emphasis to their creativity and then spend time understanding how work they create is best delivered to be both understood as meaningful and personally rewarding
Wayne: Do you have ‘habits’ associated with your creative expression? e.g. a certain place to create, conditions when you are at your most creative, states of mind, special/favourite tools/equipment/media, any rituals?
David: There are certainly ‘times’ when one feels more like being creative than others. However I am a firm believer that by placing oneself in the right environment creativity can be measured. Sometimes it is hard work, but by starting something one often just works through the barriers and results come. I have always had a deep love of music (have very catholic tastes) and love to play music (sometimes but not always ‘loud’) when in the studio. The space filled with music enables me to concentrate more on what I am doing and the time just flies by. I like to have a full day in the studio, broken by ritual tea and lunch breaks (like being on the factory floor), and finish around 5. The only difference can be that my work in the studio can be any of the 7 days of the week. I have always had a love for oil paint and it has become almost an exclusive medium for all my work over the last 10 years.
Davids final comment about creativity: " It is the life force of the universe, without it we are nothing!"
No argument from me! More about David and his work on http://www.davidwoodings.com/ including work for sale - a better investment than almost anything else in this economic climate!
Wayne: Was there a point in your life when you recognised that you were creative?
Andrew: For corporate work it’s not good enough to just get people to finger paint or look at the clouds. Many corporate people have a left brain bias or a mix, so this needs to be acknowledged and used. They need to see the value of using both sides of the brain in the creative process. So I have had to think creatively to come up with a workable creativity and innovation models and experiential learning activities that engage both sides of the brains. For example, we have developed one exercise called ‘The Chocolate Factory’ that could be seen as a very left brain cross functional process redesign exercise - it borders on six sigma - but what we do is play the game twice with the second round making sure that the participants use creative thinking to come up with significant breakthroughs in redesign (not just incremental steps) and show how this can improve the process by over 200%. This excites the more analytical thinkers and shows them the value of a creative process.
Wayne: Do you have any ‘habits’ associated with your creative expression? e.g. a certain place to create, conditions when you are most creative, states of mind, special / favourite tools / equipment / media, any rituals?
Tirian has surveyed thousands of international seminar participants from companies based in Asia to ask if they think they think they were more creative at age 7 than they are currently. Of the respondents, over 80% have indicated they believe their level of creativity has declined, and many reveal that they struggle with being creative in their current work environment. This has led us to wonder what role – if any – the education process may play in the apparent demise of creative confidence.
As parents, we have been interested to observe how our children’s attitudes have rapidly transformed from the excited enthusiasm of early learning experiences to the ambivalence and then resentment as school becomes a chore rather than an opportunity, more of an information factory than an exploratory play space.
Certainly, as John Corrigan from Group 8 Education has pointed out, schools were originally designed in the 1800s primarily to discipline children as a form of social control. Up until recently schools have acted as information packaging factory lines - filling students with information then asking them to present this same information back out again through exams. Have schools focused too much on a rote learning approach, churning out individuals who are taught to repeat facts and figures rather than to think creatively and independently? As we attempt to emerge from this challenging past, we may continue to be limited by the accompanying shackles more than we realize.
More developed cultures are now gradually becoming more successful in breaking free from the stifling philosophy that hampers creativity. By emphasizing the importance of the process as much as the result, and by encouraging alternative ideas and strategies, the education system is evolving towards creative thinking and problem solving methodologies – and those that emerge from the most advanced modern education systems are now finding they have had their creative thinking skills enhanced rather than diminished. A recent survey by The Creative Leadership Forum has in fact found that for the Australians they have surveyed, over 80% of them believe they are creative as adults and managers.
While past generations may have been able to fulfill their work duties effectively as the output requirements were more limited, it might only be people with innovative thinking skills that will survive the future. As tasks and even information become more automated, higher level thinking skills will become more and more necessary.
Dan Pink explores this concept effectively when he talks about how today’s worker needs to be able to go:
beyond function to include design
beyond argument to include story
beyond analysing to include synthesis (the ability to put together the pieces)
beyond logic to include the need for empathy
beyond seriousness to add in an element of play
beyond accumulation to enrich this with meaning
What has your experience with the creative thinking journey been? Do you feel you have lost your ability to be creative – or has your creative ability in fact been enhanced over time, and what do you believe has led to this? How comfortable are you with the concept of creativity, and how important do you think it is as a skill?
CREATIVE INNOCENCE AND THE NEW LEADER
For years both the schooling system and society in general have rewarded knowledgeable experts. The people who have been able to successfully negotiate these systems were blessed with high test results and grades, and were then promoted to high positions and paid according to their knowledge and expertise. Now, with a greater amount of information more widely available, it is becoming obvious that it is not possible to for one person to be the single expert, so learning and leadership models will have to adapt.
Leaders won’t now need to have the most information but be able to spot and encourage the smartest ideas. The traditional expert’s focus is very narrow, which means they can build a great deal of knowledge about one specific subject or area - but this can kill creativity, so the leader of the future may need to be a broad thinker capable of opening up thinking and ideas. De Bono believes that creative thinking at work requires a certain level of creative innocence. So how is it possible to ensure creative innocence in the workplace when it often goes against the grain? It is only the innocent mind – the mind that is open, the mind that is willing to become vulnerable and take risks, that can feel and think as a child, that is unpressured and uncluttered – only this mind can be truly creative.
This concept of creative innocence is now recognized as so important that some organizations engage children in the ideas generation process. Toyota has been known to put together a "board" of children to advise them on product development. Hasbro has done the same with toys, and at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center they have asked school kids to attend a series of brainstorming sessions on the future of technology.
There seem to be a number of factors in the education and then work environments that have contributed to this crisis in creative confidence. These could include:
1) Insulation from diversity: We can become protected from the need to think creatively if we are not exposed to diverse ideas and people from diverse backgrounds. As we grow older we then end up continuing to protect ourselves from new ideas. To gain a feeling of security we often try to gather round us like minded people that insulate us from new experiences.
2) Insecurity and stress: Secondly, the pressures of the modern environment can actually inhibit creative thinking. Creative thinking needs to be processed through the more advanced reflective frontal lobe of the brain, which research company Group 8 Education refers to as the ‘blue zone’, and when we are stressed or anxious, when we feel insecure or not listened to, our brain resources are drained away to dealing with the immediate needs of the more primitive survival functions of the base stem of the brain – what they call the ‘red zone’.
3) Inability to play: Perhaps the crisis in creativity can also be associated with the expectation that we should become more serious and stop ‘playing’ as we get older. This idea was certainly implied through our survey. As we used a show of hands to indicate self assessments of creativity, there may have been a reluctance to admit to being creative over time. As many older children and adults seem to be reluctant to raise their hands in front of others when asked if they are creative, while children certainly eagerly raise their hands when asked the same questions, it has made us wonder if as we get older we do not want to be seen to be creative. Indeed, accompanying discussions of the definition of creativity can often indicate that creativity is associated with immature childish play rather than the mature seriousness of ‘real’ work. So creativity can become a quality you’d prefer to leave behind as you progress through life.
By dealing with these culprits and building environments that support the creative thinking process, it is possible to bring about dramatic change.
After reflecting on the results of our seminar survey, we decided to produce a video to get people thinking about creativity and their own creative thinking journey – a video we called ‘Hands Up’. We wanted to show what we had discovered first-hand through teaching thousands of school children, and then working with adults in adult learning environments.
Our findings, as revealed in the video as a decline in creative engagement and confidence, correlate to Group 8 Education findings* from research with over 1000 students that engagement drops off from Kindergarten to Grade 10 due to an environment that often fails to provide the respect and security needed to nurture open thinking and learning. In order to foster creative thinking, then, it becomes obvious that we will need to:
1) Encourage diversity: While many people continue to build homogeneous like-minded teams, it will be important to find structures to support heterogeneous diverse teams, and to allow for a range of individuals and ideas.
2) Minimise stress: Individuals report that in ideal school and workplace environments, says Group 8 Education, three key qualities stand out: 1. Teachers/leaders respect me. 2. Teacher/leaders are friendly, approachable and willing to listen. 3. Teachers/leaders encourage and help me to succeed. The Gallup organization has also identified that the best leaders create an environment in which people feel they can build trust and develop solid relationships. This environment provides individuals with the opportunity to take risks with learning and develop in a safe and accepting environment.
3) Design open ‘playful’ environments:Free play creates a mental state where it is possible to feel safe and secure and to explore ideas without restrictions. Research is now showing that adults who have less play time as children are less creative as adults. Melinda Wenner has revealed in the Scientific American that children (and animals) who do not ‘free play’ when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults. Free play is one of the conduits needed to ensure brain resources are diverted away from dealing with the primitive survival functions so they can access creative thinking. As a university lecturer in Taiwan has found, “The major problem for education here is the lack of curiosity and initiative among the students. They don’t ask questions and are reluctant to respond.” Smart leaders recognize that the work environment could be inhibiting creativity, and learn to ensure they maintain a creative development focus.
Management Guru Jim Collins consciously ensures that he spends only 50% of his time on administration tasks. He says that he turns down many keynote talks, consulting work and even the temptation to grow his company to ensure that he is disciplined enough to stay focused and creative. He is so adamant about this key point that he logs everything he does including his sleep. He knows that at the times that he is overworked with administration that his creative thinking and ability to focus on developing and researching new ideas suffers.
So do we lose our creativity as we become adults? It appears to be more the case that we lose our creative confidence, and as a result need to work harder to regain it. It appears that it’s not that adults are not creative, but rather the right environments and opportunities need to be built for creativity to flourish. And we must be committed to doing this in order to ensure we can all cope with the demands of the future.
How aware we are of your cycles, the causes and effects of your attitudes and behaviours?
How much time do you spend in a stressful adrenalin charge environment at work?
How can you consciously set aside time and be disciplined to develop your creative thinking?
Do you and your team feel: 1) Safe 2) Believed in, 3)Listened to 4) Respected?
For leaders, what type of environment are you providing for your team? Whats sorts of opportunities for creative development are you providing for them?
A sentiment shared by many who took part.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The most recent newsletter from Tom contained the following:
Quiz Time: Which college degree is more valuable? An MBA or an MFA (that's Masters of Fine Arts).
Dan Pink says the answer is clearly an MFA - - at least it will BECOME more valuable over the next ten years.
Dan Pink is the author of "A Whole New Mind -- Moving From the Information Age to the Conceptual Age".
In this amazing book Dan describes why many of the "left brain" jobs are moving to India and Asia (outsourced) and why "right brain" jobs (jobs requiring creativity, non-linear thinking, etc.) are going to soon become more valuable here in the USA.
Listen to this audio interview with Dan Pink and learn how to help the teams you serve become more creative --http://www.teachmeteamwork.com/teachmeteamwork/2005/06/a_whole_new_min.html Alternate link: http://tinyurl.com/yn4h5e
President & Founder
International Association of Teamwork Facilitators
The interview is well worth a listen and you might consider checking out the organisation as well.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I like it when Karen performs.
I talked with Karen about the place that creativity holds in her life.
Wayne: Was there a time in your life when you realised that you were creative?
Karen: Suspect I always knew. There were only two faces to our family life – work and guilt about not working when not working. My release from this tyranny was to cry to the moon and self comfort with words and song and movement and visualization all aimed at projecting me beyond the concentration camp into the life that I saw others had. I find that holding a “creative identity” such as “musician” in front of others is hard. Because I am not all trained and learnt up I often lack the confidence to hold my ground. Its often safer to be creative alone or in trusted enclaves where self concept is not at risk at the same time the musical offerings are. Yep, holes in my cheese.
For me each creative project has an internal process that accompanies the external process. The song is made and I am made simultaneously.
There is a Maori proverb that says in respect of carving a meeting house something along the lines of The man does not make the house. The making of the house makes the man. I know this well in myself.
Wayne: How would you describe your creative process?
Karen: I need to be still enough - creative time has to be tightly held and protected time for me because all of life’s “urgents” steal the gently held times for themselves.
Writing daily and a contemplative practice every day helps me find the place to create from.
Wayne: What would you say to others who want to explore their creativity?
Karen: Find ways to enter open space … Get out of mind …. Find permission for many, many experiments in, of and through yourself.
Be surprised and delighted with every little bit of fresh growth in a creative project – expectation and “thinking you know what its going to be” are tantamount to paraquat in my experience.
Do something - anything – to start. The creative process needs a spark …
If all else fails, pretend you are 6 or 90 and see what happens next
Use “dummy lines” and “holding ideas” to keep the flow even if the fit isn’t right yet
Get a creative coach to partner and share process. Hinemoana Baker was mine for a time – and there was love.
You can get more of Karen at www.myspace.com/karenclarkenz
Sunday, August 2, 2009
A little while ago I ran one for Anne and her team from Havelock Physiotherapy.
Here's some of their feedback:
If you would like to have a creativity workshop or retreat and want to know more you can email me at email@example.com or check out my web site www.future-edge.co.nz Hit the create button and check out the retreat details.