Everyone Is An Artist: Everyone Can Bring Creativity To Their Work
If you’ve not yet happened upon the Happy Monday Podcast, hosted by two incredibly creative and prolific folks, Josh Long and Sarah Parmenter, you should definitely check it out. Each week, they interview other equally incredibly creative and prolific people, to inform, inspire and motivate. Think: Seth Godin, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Josh Brewer and Frank Chimera, to name a few. Some weeks, it’s just Josh and Sarah; these are fascinating, too.
This past Monday (August 26th, Episode 037), their guest was not a fellow creative, but rather a certified coach (and brain science and Myers-Briggs guru), by the name of Ann Holm. During the podcast, the trio discussed everything from the traits inherent in the personality assessments of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and what indicated “dominance” means in terms of how we approach our work, to Seth Godin’s ”Lizard Brain” and its close relative “the sabateur”. The entire podcast (just over 30 minutes) is worth a listen.
With that said, there was one key takeaway, and a critical supporting concept, near-and-dear to my heart: Everyone is (or rather can be) an artist. It’s all in how we approach our work.
It is not just the people who come up with the idea/design the product/write the song, that are “creative.” For businesses to thrive, every player needs to bring that same level of thought, focus and imagination to what they do.
As Josh pointed out, ”organizing and managing people, you wouldn’t think that’s creative. But if you watch them [the managers] work, and how they do it, you’re like wow, that’s magic.” It’s important to be “looking at everyone as an artist… everyone can be an artist.” Guest Ann Holm agreed, that “it’s not just painting… There are lots of different way that people can be creative.”
Invoking the thinking of the aforementioned Seth Godin, Josh said of creativity in relation to our work: “It’s what you do really well, and what you do in your element, and how professional you are in seeing it through.”
Implementation, execution, finding creative solutions to problems – all of these activities present opportunities for any person to bring imagination and insight to what they do, for them to invoke the artist. Each deserves respect as such.
But it’s not a given that it will happen. Some people naturally work in this way. Others need to be encouraged, need to have it drawn out of them.
Of her own recent experience working with various tradespeople on a new project, outside of her area of expertise, Sarah relayed her conversations with contractors and the like: “You do what you think’s best. You deal with this every day. I don’t. What she discovered: “It’s amazing, giving people that power, and not being particularly dictatorial about what you’re trying to get them to do, you end up with a better product … because you put the power in their hands.” Yes.
“Instead of I want, I want, I want,” you learn that you “get more out of employees when you let them to do what they do well.” Amen.
Then Ann asked the big question: “Why is it that we don’t do this more?” Her answer linked the present-day American work ethic to the dawn of the industrial age. Workers were taught to be “rule followers” in order to meet the standards expected of the assembly line. Her argument was that these patterns of behavior still exist in the workplace; and they need to be broken.
It’s worth noting, that when Henry Ford invented the assembly line it was revolutionary, and the new approach to work helped lift tens-of-thousands of workers out of poverty and into the middle class. An equally dramatic shift in how we work is occurring today.
But changing patterns is not an easy thing. It requires us to think about work differently and afford respect to less glamorous positions, especially those not deemed “creative.” It requires us to bring passion and commitment to our own work, so that we lead by example. And, critically, it requires time and effort to help others do the same. Because it is much easier to specify exactly how we want something done, or to provide the answer to the question or the solution to the problem, than it is to trust that that the person will over-deliver, or come up with a fantastic solution (one we never would have thought up) on their own. It requires trust and belief. It requires raised expectations of what is possible.
This may very well take having the same “aha moment” that Sarah had while working on her latest initiative. It may take teaching those in positions of authority that this approach is what is needed to survive in today’s rapidly changing, global marketplace. This what leadership is all about – inspiring and empowering people.
We need to be artists in our work. And, if we’re in a position to do so, help others be artists as well.
An aside: If you’ve never completed a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, the Happy Monday Podcast provided a link with their posting and I have included it here as well. And you can find out more information about Myers-Briggs on Wikipedia.