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Creative Recovery

August 3, 2016

by Jeanine Izzo

Creative Recovery

In recent years, I’ve found the majority of adults I encounter do not think they are creative.  I disagree.  I believe we are all creative and that creativity can go beyond artistic endeavors.  Our childhood activities offer clues to our creativity.

My brother was always mechanical.  I can vividly recall him and one of the neighbor boys making custom bicycles.  It started with streamers and baseball cards adhered to the spokes with clothes pins creating a clack, clack, clack, clack (you get the idea), clacking sound announcing their whereabouts loud and proud.  I was both annoyed and envious.  If I was lucky, usually due to a mom intervention, I would get one or two cards to put on my tires.  My brother Nick and his friend, Steve, moved on to build electric bikes and bikes with super spring-loaded seats so you could almost bounce yourself forward instead of peddling.  The most memorable was their chopper style bicycle.  They started with a slightly extended fork and eventually it grew to what seemed through my young eyes as ten feet long.  The large metal support reflected the summer sun as they took turns helping each other get on to see who could ride it the furthest…rooting for one another as I imagine the Lindbergh brothers must have done.  Even though my big bro didn’t want me around too much, I loved to watch him when he was in the zone.  Although never fashionable, he was meticulous about Lego’s, building sledding ramps, bicycles and cars…and making perfect lawn mower lines in the grass.  All these years later, he still gets paid to work with his hands and can build/fix anything.  He followed his creative spark.

As a girl, I was inspired through reading which led to writing and swerved into painting, and then to an early career in marketing where I could bring ideas to light.  As my education and career progressed I began leading teams to develop new products.  I informed my teams that I think in color so they would tolerate my color-coordinated presentations and agendas.  They obliged (phew!).  It was standard to have code names for all projects.  My teams/projects always went a bit further to create a personality.  Eventually, with increased exposure to technical disciplines and executives (which I sometimes call my gray and tan world), the overt and covert comments about my colorful clothes and smiling too much won over.  I buttoned down the hatches and became more serious and accomplished.  Through these years, I was able to overcome obstacles, complete tasks, gain new knowledge, and widen my definition of what was possible.    As the company grew, the environment shifted.  There was a department(s) for creative people instead of an all around culture, presentations had to use corporate templates, support for special projects dried up (during the recession), and the few outlets that were keeping me creatively alive were gone.  Even though my business mind understood the shift in these areas and my professional ability was expanded (I was still using critical/creative thinking to solve problems and avert risk occurrences), there was something missing.  I allowed my creative spirit to be swallowed by my corporate career.

I knew it.  I attempted to insert myself in various areas so my ideas could breathe.  Wrong time, wrong place.

When I began reintroducing creative activities into my personal life to make up for the loss, I encountered a block so tall and thick that experiences I would have previously relished were painful.  I  put myself on creative recovery which led me to achieve a certificate in Innovation and Creativity from the Art Institute of Chicago, begin a monthly practice of artistic expression, and launch Viage Partners.

Over the past months, I attended  two executive conferences (PMI Executive Forum and SIM Executive Women’s Conference) with multiple speakers and a common thread.  A shift is happening which relies on the combination of business and creative (sometimes defined as innovation or entrepreneurial) skills to keep companies competitive for the future.  And, finally…these silo-ed qualities are coming together again.

Forward Moving Tips:

To get yourself moving on creative recovery, consider the following.

  1. Take time away from work and from home to recharge and ignite your spark.  i.e. cultural events, nature, industry events, travel, fabric stores, flea markets, live music, etc.  Pay attention to the details.  What do you see, hear, feel that moves you?
  2. If you struggle to pinpoint your creative spark, use your childhood to help determine a starting point.
  3. Carve time out to foster abilities…set aside 30 minutes/week, take a workshop, enroll in a class, draw with your children/nieces/nephews, take on a project with your significant other, read a book.
  4. Give yourself permission to be bad.  Being bad is a precursor to getting better.
  5. Work through the tension you might feel along the way to realize the benefits.

Allowing your creativity to breathe can help you feel more of what you want/need (calm, enjoyment,  excitement, optimism/realism, capable, etc.).  Individual creativity leads to new perspectives and ideas.  Your own growth of perspectives and ideas can translate to workplace opportunity/innovation.  By being more open, you can be more accepting of differences, improve listening skills, ask better questions, draw out ideas from others, contribute at a higher level and collaborate to combine seemingly divergent concepts to create solutions/growth.

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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