How Do You Create?

By Tammy Dewar

Creativity is expressed in many ways. When Dave and I started doing creativity workshops about six or seven years ago, we wanted to find a way to capture the various skills involved in it, based both on our own experience and what we were seeing in the research. Back then, there were only a few books while today there are dozens. We are encouraged that recent research is still in line with the model we developed years ago. Here it is:

Tame your Critic. First and foremost this needs to happen. We cannot create if we believe we can’t. What I have learned lately is that I CAN create beyond words. I CAN create visually (my blog drawings) and I CAN make stuff (jewelry). That is very exciting and empowering. Secondly, we need to ignore those external critics. Sometimes the people closest to us offer the most critique as they have the most to lose if we create. For more on this, read Hugh McLeod’s Ignore Everybody book. We need to believe in ourselves and be willing to …

Risk. Creative people take risks. They need to be willing to lose face, look silly, be laughed at, even fail. In fact, behind the “success” of creative people is probably some failure and Tom Kelley would suggest we need to fail often to succeed sooner. I find this concept tough. I don’t like to fail but I still risk.

Energy. Creative people find their groove, their flow, their happy place where they lose time and just create. We need to notice when and where we do our creative work and shift our energy accordingly. For me, it’s usually getting away from my desk, going for a walk, or just shifting my focus to something else. This relates very closely to …

Alternatives. Creative people generate more ideas and think differently about how to meet goals. They look for inspiration from people who are very different from them and are good at asking “why not?” Or “what if?” When I’m designing workshops (which is another medium for my creativity), I often challenge myself to come up with unusual ways to deliver content. Generating alternatives takes …

Time. Creative people devote time and space to their creativity. They give themselves permission to explore things that aren’t “productive” but that feed their souls or expose them to others who inspire them. At the end of the day, our creativity relates to our passions and we need to give them as much importance as “getting things done.” The flip side of taking time is ensuring that we ultimately …

Execute. At some point, our ideas need to move to action. Creative people understand and deal with procrastination. What I have learned is to take one step towards my idea, as opposed to needing to figure it all out before I do anything. I can get overwhelmed by the enormity of a creative pursuit I envision and so allowing myself to figure it out as I go along has meant I actually have done something with my ideas.

Tammy Dewar is speaking at HRMA’s 2015 Annual Conference + Tradeshow. Her session with Dave Whittington — Creativity: The Secret Skill of Top Organizations & Leaders — is on Wednesday, April 29th.

Tammy Dewar of Calliope Learning is a passionate educator who integrates theory and practice into creative, engaging and thought provoking learning experiences. She is a committed coach who inspires people to find and make the most of their leadership potential. Tammy is an associate faculty member with Royal Roads University and the University of Alberta.

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