Time to Colour Outside the Lines and Off the Page?


Years ago, a friend of mine described herself as someone who specialized in being a generalist. While the comment made me laugh, it also made be realize it was a description I could apply to myself.

My work involves a lot of complex, often fragmented information that comes fast and furious. My job is to make sense of it, find possibility, synthesize, summarize, and use it to determine future direction and action.

Being a generalist who knows a little about a lot of different things, as well as how they could potentially interact, has becoming increasingly important for responding to today’s complex issues and challenges.

So while I’m happy to be genetically wired as more of generalist or system thinker, it has recently become apparent that I may have done it at the expense of specialist skills. The skill I really need to tap and hone these days is the ability to be more creative. And, I don’t mean simply the ability to colour outside the lines, I mean the ability to colour right off the page.

So, that got me thinking. What can I do, or what have I done in the past, that has helped to enhance my creativity?

Clear the Clutter

For me, it’s always important to make space for creativity. Somehow it seems impossible to be creative when I’m surrounded by clutter. Cleaning off my desk is often the first step in opening my mind to new possibilities. No, make that the second step. The first step often involves drinking a lot of coffee.

Shake it Up

I’ve also learned it’s important to remove myself from my typical routine and do something that relaxes me, helps me to be in the moment, and makes me happy. In other words, have fun.

While fun means different things to different people, for me it is important to do something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power. For instance, reading a fluffy book, sewing, meandering through flea markets or thrift stores, going for a walk or bike ride, or spending time in a bookstore. I also think it’s important to go to the theatre, a concert, or art gallery. While movies may not inspire much creativity, live performances by virtue of their authenticity definitely get you thinking. Hanging out with creative people who push your thinking is also a good strategy. 

Be Aware of the Creative Killers

I’m also beginning to think television is a creative-killer. Too often it’s a place to park myself when I want a diversion or distraction from work. Unfortunately I think it also numbs my brain and blocks any creative thinking. The fact that not watching television makes me a bit nervous tells me I really do need to turn it off.

Envision Your Future

This month I also plan to make a another vision board collage. Although I’ve often used them as a tool to help individuals and organization envision their future, I realize I’ve only ever done one for myself. There is something oddly appealing about selecting magazine images that trigger a reaction or response, and then cutting and gluing them onto a page. While the vision board itself may not impact reality, I’ve seen its value in unleashing one’s imagination and then in helping the subconscious mind make decisions that move one toward that vision.

Sticking pictures on one big page might just help me conceptualize more clearly a direction that now seems to be sitting just beyond the reach of my current thinking. Once the vision board is complete, the experts also suggest the trick is to stop thinking about it because the purpose is to crystallize your thinking and focus your attention. There’s no need to push something you’ve already set in motion. That means creativity will require patience.

Stand Still

Creativity may also require standing still and being quiet. While it doesn’t have to be the kind of quiet that we equate with meditation, it might just be about sitting in the dark, listening, and allowing for more silence in our busy, noisy lives. It could be that it is in the silence that we will hear the voice of our creativity.

Perhaps that’s what’s most important after all. Maybe creativity is just as much about knowing what you want and letting it unfold. Too often it seems we focus and push the how and the what. Instead, the creativity is already within us and we may simply need to relax and be open to the possibilities.

Posted on 11-29-23

Add your Comment here:






Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: Grilled by Sandra Day O’Connor

Previous entry: Can the Big Picture Make Change Easier?