In my Creativity in the Workplace Graduate class we read an article that the professor wrote about what he learned while designing hats for the Cirque du Soleil in 1996. The article is called “The 8 Lessons for building a creative workplace.” This is my reaction reproduced here and shared.
Reading about working in a circus and a fun environment had me reflecting on my own shift in my business. I once had more of a counseling business for people and their animals. It was serious, rewarding work for the contribution I was giving and how I was helping, and I adored the animals, but emotionally weighing in my psyche, and after many years doing that type of work I focused back onto designing and creating online classes that were fun. I look at that progression in my business from one extreme to the next and it’s interesting and revealing for me that my latest creation is an imaginary mall that teaches design and thinking creatively. It’s fun and entertaining like a circus. Your workplace should be fun and feed your creativity, the article suggests.
I established an Instagram account to test-drive my creations from my mall. It’s an experimental place to try out what works and what doesn’t, much like the new acts in the circus, and like the Professor described, with others witnessing and hopefully, being inspired. I see that when I am most excited, I am most successful in my posts. The other day I happened upon a creative fashion design app, Pret-a-Template. I could draw on my tablet and design clothes for my imaginary mall. You would think I just won the lottery! I played most the morning, lost in what Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi called deep in the flow. I was apprehensive about sharing my new shoe design on Instagram, but when I did, there was an outpouring of support of comments, the opposite of my last few lackluster shares.
Teresa Amabile, a creative theorist, describes intrinsic motivation as what excites and drives you. You are rewarded from within. Can others feel your deep intrinsic motivation then through your work? As mentioned in the article, leading to more innovative creations? I believe so. It’s that spark that we are attracted to in others’ work. I watched an episode the other day of the new season of World of Dance. There’s a group of LA youngsters called The LAB, back from last year. They dance with passion, fire and motivation. I could never get enough of watching them perform as they command the stage. Perhaps that is an argument in being excited about what you are doing vs. creating only what the market seems to want. That route doesn’t lead to innovative work or work with heart, although it can be profitable. I live near Sedona, Arizona. There is one artist that makes these standing deer figure sculptures. They have a funky, Native American, symbolic feel. I imagine his first sculpture was filled with heart & deep expression. Many years later he now simply replicates the deer in different costumes and they sell like crazy. They are devoid of spark. Can others see that or only other artists?
The other part of the article that fed me was the idea of rewarding your efforts vs. focusing on your failures. The idea of failure causes anxiety throughout my body for most even small efforts. I observed how this idea would be applicable the other day. My husband is also going back to school to finish his Bachelors degree in Business. His latest online class in Finance has challenged him to spend many hours after work struggling away on calculations, sometimes, late into the night. After getting through an intense problem there is noticeable relief. His upset was obvious when his professor graded his exercise by what was wrong or right leaving very little credit for all his work done the night before. He explained to me that his prior teachers always graded his effort giving him full credit. Why was this teacher different? His whole demeanor shifted in this class. I could see the air drain from his tires. This was a real life example of what I do to myself when I work so hard but a project doesn’t have glowing reviews so I discount the effort. I was squashing my creativity and poisoning my creative workplace, in this case, studio.
How will you reward your efforts? Where do you dive down deep in flow?
It’s been a while. I hope to share more soon and my journey through learning animation and attending Grad School.
Until next time,
Kantor, R. (2018?) 8 Lessons on Building a Creative Workplace. Retrieved from Drexel University website 9 June 2018.