I was lucky enough to hear an interview with author Elizabeth Gilbert of, “Eat Pray Love” fame. It wasn’t something that I thought was vitally important on my agenda, but in hindsight I greatly underestimated it. I have had a ‘love-hate’ relationship with creativity in my life, embracing it as a child as I danced, played the piano and took drama to matric and then turning my back deliberately upon it as I studied a commerce at university. But my definition of ‘creativity’ as an adult has expanded far beyond the practice of the arts and I have come to learn that it is a very necessary component of business.
Creativity certainly seems very far away in these days of Covid and yet I have a deep-seated belief that the only solutions to be found to our current madness, must rest in creativity.
Last night Gilbert spoke highly authentically of her experience of fear as a normal stage of the creative process. And as we struggle to find new ways of working and of being in Covid times, I think we need to invite creativity into the conversation, rather than squashing it out with what I observe as fear-based responses of, ‘control, restrict and monitor’.
She points to the fact that our core belief of, “I get to write my own life the way I want to” is being challenged at every level through this crisis. We are faced with the “invitation to rewrite this”, which at many levels has felt more like a judgement or punishment, than an invitation to accept. We are definitely not all in the same boat, but we are in the same storm and as Huffington says,
“There is not going back…the pandemic has made it all too clear that we cannot continue to live and work the way we have — breathlessly and always on.”
When I look back at my brain-body system studies, I am reminded that compassion and empathy are the main ingredients in developing creative solutions to problems. Consulting group Accenture echoes these sentiments in its leadership guide for these times,
“Workers will remember the faces and voices you empower to lead the charge during this time. Be sure those voices are not only wise, but compassionate and caring.”
And I think that compassion has to start with self, with our own energy management and our needing to ensure that we don’t become another patient for an already burdened healthcare system to treat.
So how are we going to respond to the many unknowns and the repeated answers to anything Covid-related of, “we just don’t know”? If we can tap into our individual and collective creativity, I believe that we can come up with some far more sustainable solutions than simply ‘more of the same’? And for me that starts by allowing creativity to be an critical element of my response.