A not-so-famous line but one of my favourites which I use as an everyday contextual phrase: “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.”

This phrase besides sounding very amusing comprises a world of wisdom in itself. In generic terms, it may signify the degree of effort it takes for one to get a cup to the lip to enable drinking and therefore enjoy their coffee. In a deeper context, it applies to the bitter realities of how much companies talk of creativity and innovation and how little do we see it in practice.

Why is it that almost every third company wants to include innovation in its top values as a ‘feel-good factor while in reality there is no basic training or even a simple defined system of creativity that encourages innovation?

In my last three decades of teaching, training, consulting, and coaching here are the top 3 blocks I attribute to nurturing creativity and innovation.

There are many more for sure but let’s leave them for another article. Wanting to cover everything at one time is indeed a great conversation starter as a block. So let’s explore the 1st block.

Block 1: Wish list Vs Task list

I wish I had a car, a perfect partner, and didn’t have to work for a day in my life again. Sounds familiar? Well, we can all wish for things and wishes do come true but only when packed with the right amount of effort, attention, and direction. Companies in their need to grow and get things done FAST forget about the number of things we can do at one time instead of doing it all. Let’s do this and then we will do this and if that happens then we can start with this. Clear everyone? (All clueless meeting members nodding their head with a yes and deep down don’t know why they are nodding.)

So what is the learning? It completely depends on what you think it is.

According to me,

1. Clarity precedes speed
2. Quality of idea precedes quantity of ideas

Block 2: Group Think Vs Clan Think

Imagine the same meeting I spoke of in the previous point. You are a part of the meeting and the meeting holder presents an idea. He is a very close colleague, soon to be promoted, a very dear old family friend and you admire him for his ideas. The remaining 7 people in the meeting love the idea but you seem less convinced. What do you do? One of the three-

a. Leave it away, why waste time?
b. I want to fit in with the larger group so why to rub their feathers. Let’s flock together lovingly and peacefully and call it great teamwork
c. How can I challenge such a dear friend and hey, he is going to be promoted and I will start to report to him. So why sour the relationship.

A, b, or c? Well, maybe there is a D.

And the D is, I owe loyalty to my work, to my brand, and my customer. Challenging someone doesn’t mean I have to be disrespectful and prove myself right. Challenging someone could mean sharing an alternative perspective or surfacing things others aren’t seeing. It could also mean seeking and providing clarity by asking questions.

When I challenge, I stop doing things just for the group to seem happy. I call this Artificial Harmony. Instead, I start doing things to protect my call and to ensure we are all in it together but with courage, and authenticity.

So what should be interpreted here?

My insights:

1. Courage is the ability to stand up and speak when you need to and sit down and listen when required
2. Clan thinking precedes group thinking

Block 3: I am not creative

No human is born without creative potential. Your creativity can take various outlets and forms. It doesn’t have to be artistic. Many UX designers I know are incompetent at painting. But UX designing is about understanding human needs and when they realize that, they start giving a new meaning to their creativity.

Some of the best scientists have the rarest analytical problem-solving skills. Now wouldn’t that qualify as being creative? Anything done in a differential manner, with the intent to create value is creativity.

Today if I make a cup of coffee, and just to break the monotony I top it with a heart made up of cinnamon powder I attempt to nurture my creativity.

So what’s the point?

In my opinion, the best way ahead is:

1. Recognize your innate creative strengths and ask how or if I can nurture them?
2. Your self-talk is your biggest un-blocker. The things you say to yourself, the questions you ask yourself, and the emotions attached to those words are the make or break for your creative potential.

A teaser: Am I creative?

If this was an 11-year girl asking you, how would you help her redefine creativity for herself?

With this, I’d conclude, and I hope the number and the kind of slips between the cup and the lip would have reduced by this reading.

Do write to us with your inputs and Happy Creative Unleashing.

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