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Leadership

3 Ways to Ignite Team Change

July 7, 2017 — by Patti Sanchez

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change

When Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy stepped into her role at Xerox in 2001, the company was nearly bankrupt, and she needed to make drastic reforms to keep them afloat. However, rather than make sweeping, far-reaching changes right away, Mulcahy chose to spend the first 3 months communicating with and listening to the employees. Then she implemented change initiatives. Ultimately, Mulcahy’s process helped rebuild hope at the company, and it led to them becoming profitable again.

Mulcahy was successful at Xerox because she knew that strategic communication tools were the key to igniting change at an organization. Leaders who first listen to and understand employees, then clearly communicate their visions and goals, are better able to get people onboard with their initiatives and move people toward change.

 

Below are 3 ways you can use empathetic listening and stories, speeches, and ceremonies to spark change:

1. Determine What Common Ground You Share

To appeal to your team, you should first find common ground with them. You can become aware of people’s mood and responses by practicing empathetic listening. To start, imagine yourself in the place of your employees, and remember a time when you were in a similar position — asked to embrace something you didn’t support. What were you thinking, feeling, and doing? What helped you change your mind? You can use these memories to generate empathy for your team, then listen to their concerns in a way that shows them you understand their experience.

Empathetic listening helps because it makes people feel like they are accounted for in the process.

 

2. Assess How Your Team Members are Feeling

When listening to the feelings of team members, gauge how resistant they seem to your ideas. People who gain from change are likely to commit quickly. Those who have things to lose may initially resist. Once you understand peoples’ level of resistance, you can choose whether you are going to use motivating communication to energize them, or warning communication to coax them.

 

3. Communicate Your Vision Clearly

Once you’re aware of how your travelers are feeling, you can use reliable warning and motivating tools to clearly communicate your dream.

If your team is on board with the change, communicate with the following motivating techniques:

  • Vision Speeches: Vision speeches are remarks that explain your vision and dream. Tell stories with images of the future that linger.
  • “Heed the Call” stories: Set the scene of the epiphany you had about your dream. Use heed the call stories to give insight into your process and make them feel closer to your motives.
  • “Immerse Deeply” ceremonies: Hold events that creatively transport people via vision meetings, brainstorms, and kickoff strategy sessions.

If your team is feeling resistant to change, the following techniques can help coax them to join your cause.

  • Revolution Speeches: Incite travelers to rise up and demand a better future by making a speech that describes in stark detail the losses that will occur if the current condition isn’t changed. Share a picture of life in balance when wrongs are righted.
  • “Neglect the Call” stories: Tell stories of the costs of avoiding the change. Set the scene for what unrewarding reality could come to fruition without it.
  • “Mourn the Ending” ceremonies: Hold ceremonies to help those who cling to old behaviors prepare for change and symbolically close the door.

 

Leaders who succeed at starting a change in their company have to get their travelers onboard with them. This is a two-part process: listening, empathizing, and understanding the travelers, then framing your communication so it lands in the right way to inspire action.

 

 

Patti Sanchez is chief strategy officer at Duarte Inc. and co-author of Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols. Follow her on Twitter @PattiSan.

 

EnvisionLeadership

Space to Dream

May 17, 2017 — by Gino Beltran

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space to dream

Do you feel stuck between the story of your past and the story of your future?

Your physical environment may be holding you back. Take a look around you — does your space communicate your values? Does it resonate with your culture? Or does it lack connection to your beliefs and identity?

What if you gave yourself the space to dream big? What would the story of your future say?

In this week’s Potluck Society podcast, host Hugh Weber discusses the effect space has on our stories with our own Steven Chaparro.

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION:

LISTEN NOW

The future will be inspired by the past, but it can’t come in the same form of old ideas. You must connect old ideas with each other to create new ones.

Steven Chaparro

Leadership

Leveraging Art & Science Through Collaborative Genius

April 7, 2017 — by Dave Milam

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Our team has now shared with you two of our core values at Visioneering Studios: Pioneering Wall-less Impact through Ruthless Innovation, and Equipping Leaders at Every Step of the Expedition. Today, Dave Milam, Design Strategist, shares our third team value: Leveraging Art & Science Through Collaborative Genius.

collaborative genius

Imagine, by some strange turn of events, that control of your entire organization was handed down to the right-brained, creative guy. You know the one — the creative, yet disorganized, skinny-jeaned, inked-up, always-fifteen-minutes-late guy. Maybe you’d jump for joy because finally, someone would replace that awful couch in the lobby with something that had a little more panache. But ultimately, you know that the organization would drift aimlessly like George Clooney, untethered by gravity, floating dangerously away from Sandra Bullock.

But what if the reigns of the entire organization were entrusted to the accounting department instead? Each decision would be measured by a team of actuaries who calculate the likelihood of success using a series of complex algorithms. Rigidity and order would rule the day. It would be death by paper-cuts.

Even in an organizational environment like ours, an equal balance of art and science must be maintained. While it might even seem reasonable at times to give the right-brained, creative-engine complete autonomy throughout the process, trust us — without the spreadsheet guy, the budget goes haywire every time.

This principle isn’t solely for creative firms like Visioneering Studios.

Organizations who cannot manage the art and science tension ultimately sacrifice the mission. 

Sure, it’s a difficult tension to manage, but if you’re able to leverage both creative and strategic, the right brain and left brain, the art and science, you’ll begin to revel in true collaborative genius. And the organization ultimately wins.

LeadershipWorship

Never Say Thank You

March 31, 2017 — by Dave Milam

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What if I told you that a leader should never say thank you to his team? You probably wouldn’t believe me, would you?

thank you

Even if you grew up with deadbeat parents, you were probably taught to parrot the words “thank you” every time somebody did something nice for you. Every kind word and every Christmas gift required a gracious “thank you” as payment for services rendered. After a while, those words become a part of our regular, mindless vernacular.

But have you ever stopped to think about what the words “thank you” imply? Think about it. In the most subtle way, “thank you” suggests that I appreciate what you just did for me. “Thank you” infers that you just did me a favor.

So, I guess “thanks” is perfect if you someone gift-wraps a new sweater for you. But if you’re a church leader, do you really want your team to believe that they’re doing you a favor by volunteering– that their service was for you? Wouldn’t you rather have your team serving God and be driven by the mission of the church than helping you do your stuff?

Look how Paul shows his appreciation for his team in Romans 1:8 when he says:

“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.”

In other words, “God has done me a favor by putting you in my life.” Or maybe, “I am so grateful that God has put you on my team; I’m so blessed to be serving with you.” Paul’s language is so inclusive.

So next time, instead of saying “thanks,” use language that conveys gratitude for the gift of serving or working beside exceptional people. Your volunteers are not doing you a favor. And they’re not serving you.

Leadership

Equipping Leaders at Every Step of the Expedition

March 24, 2017 — by Mike Campbell

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Two weeks ago, we shared with you the first of our five core values at Visioneering: Pioneering Wall-less Impact through Ruthless Innovation. Today, our own Mike Campbell is sharing our second core value: Equipping Leaders at Every Step of the Expedition.

equipping leaders

 

Is there anything worse than knowing your heading out on a journey or getting ready to attempt a new challenge, only to find out you aren’t prepared for what lies ahead?

 

Several years ago I ran the New York City Marathon, and it was quite the journey. I wasn’t prepared or equipped for the 26.2-mile journey around the five boroughs of New York City. I struggled with injuries and sickness leading up to the race, and mentally, I was pretty exhausted — even before the wake-up call on race day. Still, I finished the race, and I distinctly remember the final mile into Central Park across the finish line.

 

“Get me outta here.” “I’m done.” “No more.”

Those were the words in my mind (and probably rolling off my lips) as I crossed the finished line. That 26.2-mile, agonizing journey couldn’t have been over soon enough.

 

Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t healthy, and I wasn’t equipped. It wore me out, it burned me out, and it just plain hurt. The recovery was long and painful, took longer than normal, and almost ended my running passion.

  • Can you feel the weight of that moment?
  • Have you had your own similar moment?

Isn’t leadership at times just like that? How many of us have said, “Get me outta here”, “I’m done”, and “No more”?

 

How can we ensure we are equipped and are equipping leaders at every step of the expedition?

Wherever you find yourself in your leadership journey, one thing is for sure — it won’t be the same tomorrow. You will need more equipment, more training, more encouragement, and more people speaking into your life… this list could go on and on. One of the best questions to ask yourself is this: What areas in my own life and leadership do I need to grow in to become the leader I desire to be in the future?

 

Much of being a leader is ‘taught’ but an equal amount is also ‘caught.’ Ask yourself: What knowledge and skill do I need to do the role I’ve been called to? The answer to that question can be ‘taught.’ But what about those skills that are ‘caught’? Character and passion — how will you acquire those? Who is investing into you and discipling you in your leadership journey?

 

At Visioneering Studios, we want to be part of that journey with you. Our desire is to equip you in every step of your design-build expedition and journey. Your organization may be in the early stages of mission and vision clarity. Perhaps you are ready to dream and envision what might be within your organization. Or maybe it’s finally time to design and build the perfect space to tell your unique story. Wherever you are, we want to serve you as Outfitters of your expedition!

Leadership

7 Key Principles for Effective Implementation

March 17, 2017 — by Charles Lee

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You have a great idea -- but how do you bring it to life?

Effective Implementation

Written by Charles Lee, Founder & CEO of Ideation and Author of “Good Idea. Now What?

In a world that embraces buzzwords like “entrepreneur,” “creativity,” and “innovation,” there’s bound to be an abundance of passionate ideas. Unfortunately, passion alone is not enough to create the kind of change, product, or service many of us dream about. Far too many ideas experience premature death because they lack the intentional strategy, processes, and gritty commitment necessary for tangible execution.

The good news is that there are proven ways to bring our ideas to life. Here are 7 Key Principles for Effective Implementation that have guided many idea-makers in their respective endeavors:

Idea-Making Principle No. 1 – Ideas Don’t Work, We Do

Thomas Edison was right when he stated, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Ideas come to life because we choose to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done! This takes some level of intentional organization and planning.

Too many creative leaders have given themselves a false sense of permission not to be organized, all in the name of artistry and creativity. But the reality is that most creative people who live out their dreams have actualized their passion through intentional planning and hard work. Our creativity deserves our commitment to carve out optimal pathways for its implementation.

Idea-Making Principle No. 2 – Our Biggest Hindrance May Be Us

Good ideas take time to develop, yet too many leaders give up on concepts far too early. Some rationalize it as managing limited resources, when in fact, it may be their own inability or unwillingness to work through the frustrations that come with the process.

The truth is that frustration is often a precursor to breakthrough, and scarcity of resources can actually be the catalyst for creativity. Being mindful of internal tendencies and working through perceived limitations with others often helps with the process.

Idea-Making Principle No. 3 – Spatial Ideation Matters

Physical environment and space qualify as significant factors in the idea-making process. The environment that surrounds us fuels our creativity and ability to see and feel what we’re trying to form. We don’t have to be in the “coolest” space to create, but we should pursue the kind of space that could offer the most relevant experience related to our passions.

The most creative concepts often reside in the environment of the people it will ultimately benefit. Who are the stakeholders and main beneficiaries of your passion? Go to them, listen, learn, love and take notes. The closer we get to moving the pendulum from “them” to “us” through spatial presence and proximity, the better chance we’ll have in actually developing ideas that work.

That said, there are definitely times to move away to reflect upon the environment we hope to serve. Spatial distance can actually bring clarity to concepts. We all need regular time within, as well as outside. Proximity and distance are both your greatest assets and hindrances to formulating ideas.

If we want to create or develop ideas, we need to stay close to the people that the ideas will benefit, and work in the environment where the idea-making will happen.

Idea-Making Principle No. 4 – Prove It By Writing It Down

Before we go tell someone about our idea, we need to take some time to put it on paper. Be careful to not just take it from mind to mouth. Writing forces us to organize our thoughts and provides a degree of needed perspective. It not only refines the idea, but also helps us anticipate questions people might have when we do share. This process will help focus our clarity in storytelling and raise our confidence in communications.

Idea Making Principle No. 5 – Think Process & Then Think Process (Again)

An on-going refinement of our idea-making process is essential to executing ideas. Whether our process includes a particular location, time and/or team, identifying how and when we work best is key. In developing your own process, consider the following areas to help guide you:

  • Business Plan – A working business plan is essential for any endeavor because it provides direction to any vision or passion. Even if you’re just starting out, a simple business plan will keep you focused and accountable to the task at hand.
  • Sustainability – Does your plan have fiscal and human resource legs? In other words, how will you fund or resource your endeavor? From where will you pull the fiscal and human capital? Does your business or organization have concrete commitments to help support its launch? Will people actually invest in it and why?
  • Scalability – How much growth potential is realistic in the next one to three years? Can you identify those growth indicators? Will you and your team (if you have one) sacrificially commit to the plan for the next three years to implement the concepts at personal cost?
  • Simplicity and Uniqueness – Is your message simple enough to grasp and communicate to potential partners and supporters? Will people get the unique message of your passion, or will you melt away as white noise? How will you make it accessible enough that people can easily get involved?
  • Longevity – Thinking long-term also provides a broader perspective of what it is you hope to develop, which can minimize unnecessary, short-term distractions and frustrations.
  • Investment – Too many idea-makers get sidetracked by “costs.” It’s unrealistic to eliminate money from the equation, so get advice on how to maximize a limited budget or increase funding for growth.

Idea-Making Principle No. 6 – Ask Questions that Lead to Better Strategy

Great questions while working toward a goal often lead to more intentional strategy— note that I said, “while working.” Some of the best questions arise while moving forward. Don’t expect to have all the necessary questions or answers prior to working on an idea. Start first and then refine along the way.

Idea-Making Principle No. 7 – Our Ideas Can Become Reality

While there’s no magic pill to take for great idea-making, our ideas can come to life if we choose to move on them. We live in a world that gives us access to information, technology, and even opportunities for funding our ideas. It can happen. In fact, it must happen if we truly believe our ideas can change our world for the better.

Leadership

Pioneering Wall-less Impact through Ruthless Innovation

March 10, 2017 — by Sam Song

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Visioneering Studios is no stranger to transition. In fact, we believe change is necessary to make room for growth and innovation as an organization. Recently, we’ve been on a transformative journey of refining and clarifying our Vision, Mission and Values in order to better serve our partners and narrow our focus on doing what we do best.

ruthless innovation

We were honored to have our friends at Auxano come alongside us on this journey to develop an inner compass for our Visioneering team that included five core values. As Christ-followers and as Visioneers, one of the things we aim to be in our work is transparent. Transparency builds trust, and it’s a goal of ours to be trusted stewards of story and space in all of our partnerships.

In that spirit of transparency, we’d like to share the heart behind one of the five core values we are committed to at Visioneering Studios:

 

Pioneering Wall-less Impact through Ruthless Innovation

Let’s break that down.

Pioneering >>> At its core, “Vision” points to an unfamiliar, uncharted territory. If it didn’t, it would just be current reality. Vision calls us to move beyond current circumstances into the unknown, the unseen. We often don’t know what to expect or what we will need, but we must find the courage to step forth.

Wall-less Impact >>> We strive to create environments where transformation for good can take place, but that doesn’t always exist within four walls. We want the spaces we create to have an impact that exists within, in-between and beyond — one that cannot be contained within the walls of a building.

Ruthless >>> We are not romantic with the way things “used to be.” We believe what got us here will not always get us there. We honor our past, but we know how to let go of the way it’s been, in order to grab a hold of what needs to be.

Innovation >>> We are not interested in just upgrading or iterating our processes. We believe that every space has a story to tell, and every story deserves unique attention. We create new solutions required to respond to new challenges and disruptions that confront us, every day.

 

Below is a talk by Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, shared at the 99U conference about “Creative Destruction.” Basecamp was birthed out of this “Creative Destruction” habit and now serves over 100,000+ paying customers. What started as a Web Design company has now transformed into a successful software company. Take a look at how this core value of “Pioneering through Ruthless Innovation” can be worked out:

As we keep moving forward through our transformative journey, we want to continue to share what we’re learning and how we’re establishing our values with you, our partners. And we’d love to hear the same from you, as well. What important lessons are you learning about your team as your organization grows? What do you value most in the work that you do? How are you implementing those values into your partnerships? Comment below.

 

LeadershipWorship

10 Ways to Exegete Your City

February 10, 2017 — by Sean Benesh

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The built environment of our cities are not simply neutral containers in which people live. They communicate much. How do you exegete your city to find out?

exegete your city
Many of us have been mystified by the observational prowess of Sherlock Holmes. We all have our favorite actors who played this legendary character, from Robert Downey Jr. in the movies to Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC television series. What is it that captivates us about Sherlock Holmes? It is his innate ability to deduce and unpack so much meaning by simply observing.

exegete your cityAt the beginning of every semester, I tell students in my classes that studying and understanding cities is “first of all a visual sport,” as urban historian Sam Bass Warner notes in American Urban Form. Whether we’re talking about the Pre-Columbian city of Cahokia, or walking along the heavily gentrified neighborhood abutting North Williams Avenue in Portland, we can learn to apply our Sherlock Holmes powers of observation. You see, everything around us is communicating a value system. We simply need to pause, take a mental note, and discern not only what values are being communicated, but what they mean.

Throughout the semester, we map different neighborhoods as well station ourselves at various intersections, counting not only how many people we see on bicycles or pedestrians, but other things like ethnicity, gender, if they’re wearing helmets or not, and so on. We then debrief the data. What does this mean? What does it communicate about this neighborhood?
exegete your city
In their book, Planning to Stay, Morrish and Brown note, “Physical features are the tangible resources that expresses a neighborhood identity
influence its values, and shape its social and economic structures.” In other words, neighborhoods are not neutral in their communication of values — what one observes reveals much.

Listed below are 10 easy ways for you to exegete your city (or neighborhood), guided by questions:

  1. What value system does the built environment communicate? Are the buildings deteriorating? Mixed-use? Set back from the road? Do the buildings cater towards a specific demographic, socio-economic grouping, or ethnicity?
  2. How does the built environment shape the way people live in the neighborhood? Cities are the containers that influence the life and culture of the people, and shape the urban experience.
  3. How old are the buildings? When was the neighborhood built? One can learn to discern communities built before the car, during the streetcar era, or with cars in mind.
  4. Walk into a few of the stores and businesses. Who are they marketing their products to? For example, what does the presence of a Whole Foods communicate when it is placed in a gentrifying neighborhood, where before it was classified as a “food desert”?exegete your city
  5. Who do you see out walking? What is the observable demographic breakdown? If you were to return in the evening, is it the same or different? This is often more helpful than formal demographic reports.
  6. How are people getting around? On foot? Cars? Bicycles? Public transit? This could reveal the innate walkability of a neighborhood or its car-dependency.
  7. Where do people cluster together? What draws them there? Can you identify a natural gathering place, whether a park, plaza, business, or street?
  8. What drew people to this neighborhood? This moves beyond simply observing, but is discovered through conversations with homeowners, business owners, and renters. Often times, people move into neighborhoods based on cultural affinity, shared values, and even political affiliation.
  9. Where do you observe hope? Conversely, where do you observe brokenness? How are those revealed in urban form? Like a fever is a symptom of an internal illness, what we see can reveal what is both helpful or hurting in a community. This could be a new community center in a low-income neighborhood, or a burned-out and neglected building that attracts criminal activity.
  10. Where does the church need to get involved? This could range from a tactical urbanism intervention project, a church opening up their parking lot to host food carts, planting an urban garden to provide fresh vegetables for the neighborhood, advocating safe routes to school so children can bike and walk safely, and much more.

exegete your cityThe point of these questions is to (a) learn to be even more observant of your neighborhood, and (b) to ultimately spur you into some kind of action. The rest is up to you.

 

 

 

——————————————-
Sean Benesh is a church planting strategist for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission). For further reading, you can pick up Sean’s book, Exegeting the City: What You Need to Know About Church Planting in the City Today.

——————————————-

 

Leadership

Four Seasons of the Journey

February 3, 2017 — by Sam Song

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This Four Seasons framework serves as a map for those who dare to follow their transformative journeys.

four seasons

Life is a collection of transformative journeys.

When I reflect on my own transformative journeys, I notice that there is a seasonality to each one. From personal endeavors to entrepreneurial ventures, each journey could fall under what I call “The Four Seasons.” Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, I created “The Four Seasons” framework to serve as a trail map for myself and others who are daring to answer their calls to adventure, or their journeys of transformation.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to serve as a guide for a number of artists, non-profit leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, and others through these Four Seasons. Through this framework, we bring clarity, enable courage, develop grit, and instill the generosity needed for their journey ahead. Each season, as shown below, is marked by a question to help move you through the cycle realizing, answering, and returning to your calling.  Let’s take a deeper look.

four seasons

WINTER: The Call

The transformative journey begins here in the world of the ordinary, the status quo. Then, in a single moment, you are disrupted by a call. This call might be an idea that illuminates new possibilities, or an experience that stirs the heart’s desire for change, or a still, small voice calling you forth. Sometimes, this call is born out of tragedy, loss, or a void. Regardless of its nature, the call will not go away. It will continue to gnaw at you until you stop what you are doing and give it the attention it requires of you.

As you explore this call, you arrive at the threshold from the old to the new. You may choose to step forth, but sometimes you are pushed across.

THE QUESTION: Will you answer the call?
===

SPRING: The Crisis

You step into this new and extraordinary world. Yet quickly, your anticipation and excitement are attacked by what Steven Pressfield calls, “The Resistance.” The Resistance is very strategic — It knows that we are our own worst enemy, so it attacks our identity. The Resistance is also brutally efficient. It simply sparks the fuel of doubt and allows our own voices to tend the fire of insecurity and uncertainty.

“Who do I think I am?”
“Am I an imposter? What if they find out?”
“Am I a leader? A creative? Qualified? Smart? Beautiful? Charismatic?”
“Why me?”

This is when we rise up to the challenge. We clear the clutter and remove the noise. We choose to become the person we need to be.

THE QUESTION: “Am I?”
===

SUMMER: The Craft

In this season, you step into the “cave.” This is when the work intensifies and confidence grows. With each step deeper into this cave, you begin to identify the capabilities necessary to continue on this journey.

The mystery and uncertainty of the cave darkens your vision and path, so you learn to navigate, climb, and travel in darkness. With each step, your understanding of the nuances deepens. You read books, listen to podcasts, find a mentor, and attend trainings. You learn to innovate, inspire, write, lead, and build. And you discover that the best learning comes from trying. You add to your toolbox of skills.

However, the backpack you carry is preventing you to navigate through the narrows, so you meticulously remove the items that are not essential. You say “no” to unnecessary things in order to say “yes” to the journey.

THE QUESTION: “What are the capabilities and capacity I need?”
===

FALL: The Return

You battled your way through the cave. You may have slain a dragon or barely survived. You started a movement, wrote your first book, led a team through a project, became debt free, or maybe you discovered what not to do. Regardless of the situation, you discovered that the treasure is not the outcome. The true treasure is your transformation. You leveled up.

With a renewed strength of identity, capabilities, and capacities, you are a new you. You can now give this gift to the world. You bring a greater presence and value to every relationship, service and community. You deepen the meaning you bring to the work you, instead of extracting meaning from the work. Your ordinary world is transformed. It is now the new status quo, until you are disrupted once again by a call to another adventure.

THE QUESTION: “Now what?

===

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and
I could indeed have changed the world.
– unknown monk”

 

Leadership

Am I Creative vs. I Am Creative

January 27, 2017 — by Randall Coy

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Have you ever wondered if you're a "creative type"? Here are 5 ways that you can shift your thinking and channel your inner Creator.

creative

I was recently talking to a good friend when he stated very matter-of-factly, “I wish I was creative, but I just don’t have a single ounce of creativity in my whole body.” It really bothered me to hear him say that, and as I thought about it a bit more, I realized that a lot of people I know have made similar statements. After awhile, I understood why it bothered me so much – because it’s not true.

I strongly believe that every one of us is creative, and to prove the point I’m going to take us back to the beginning…the very beginning, as in Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1. Let’s focus on the first five words: “In the beginning, God created…” The first thing we learn about God is that He is creative– not just creative in the sense of painting pretty pictures, but creative in the sense of designing perfection and delicate balances of life. Shortly after in Verse 27, the Bible states, “So God created man in his own image…”

This is a huge statement. Have you ever really thought about what that means? For this conversation, the takeaway is this:

GOD IS CREATIVE = WE ARE CREATIVE

What exactly is Creativity? This is not a simple question to answer by saying creativity is A, B, and C. To truly understand what it is, we have to understand what it’s not.

CREATIVITY IS NOT APOLOGETIC. Here’s a great quote from a gentleman named Marty Neumeier: “Great ideas are never polite. They never say they’re sorry.” If we’re worried about what other people think or what they’re going to say, we’re building limits to our creativity before we even begin. We can’t be truly creative while trapped inside a box with a lid. Remove those limits, give all ideas generated a voice, and see where they take you.

CREATIVITY IS NOT SAFE. The status quo, typical, same-old approach is safe, but when has truly inspired creativity come from the status quo and doing the same thing over again? Creativity doesn’t always play by the rules. We need to understand this and be willing to take a risk. Set aside your fear and step up to be creatively rebellious. This is the path to new ideas.

CREATIVITY IS NOT EASY. It takes a lot of effort and at times several failures to resolve a creative task. Have you seen the scenes in a movie when a writer keeps ripping the page off his notepad and tossing it into the trash? Eventually, the trashcan is overflowing and there is crumpled-up sheets of paper all over the floor. That, at times, is a good picture of the Creative Process. Do not be discouraged, and keep charging ahead with new ideas. Eventually, one will surface that will move things forward.

CREATIVITY IS NOT FOR A SELECT FEW. I believe everyone is born creative. When a child learns to form sentences, the child is being creative. Have you ever met a child that didn’t like to color? Yes, some don’t color within the lines, but I doubt Jackson Pollack or Picasso did either. Think of creativity as a muscle. Every single human on the planet has muscles – some more than others. Why? They exercise their muscles and develop them. Creativity is the same way. The more we exercise our creative muscles, the more creative we can become, but keep in mind there will always be others that are “stronger” than you are.

CREATIVITY LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. I think we tend to believe we’re not creative if we can’t paint a masterpiece, draw a building, sketch a portrait, or write a song. Yes, those things require creativity, but those aren’t the only creative avenues. I can’t tell you what your creativity looks like, but I’m pretty sure all of you reading this can write down an idea that popped into your head. At its most basic, creativity is giving an idea a voice. Writing something down to remember later on is a creative act.

If you bought into the lie that you have no creativity whatsoever and you’re creativity is “out of shape,” the following are some steps you can take to start developing those muscles again. You can start by hanging out with people you find to be creative. Talk with them; pick their brain. Read more. Write more. Carry a sketchbook and draw. It doesn’t matter if you’re drawing stick people. Drawing helps us to see the details that are all around us and will help you to intentionally start to view the world differently. Be sure to notice the green of a mallard’s head. Start seeing the rabbit-shaped clouds again. Hear the ballads of the birds outside your window in the morning. This is how it begins, and it won’t be long until you find creativity’s fuel.

INSPIRATION.

Once found, there’s no wrong answer on how you use it. Just know that God put it there for a reason, and take action. That action of giving your idea/inspiration a voice is one avenue of your creativity. Own it.