Upend your personal status quo and reclaim your natural creativity in every single action you take
Everyone claims to value creativity, and businesses are clamouring for disruptive thinking and innovation. Yet we often feel creatively stifled at work, because business processes seem to leave no room for real originality. In this climate, it takes a heroic effort to reclaim our status as independent thinkers, to bring meaning and joy to our work lives and to make lasting changes that will bring value to everyone around us. In Everyday Creative, culture and creative leadership expert Mykel Dixon reveals what's holding us back from our full creative potential and explains how we can reclaim our original, vibrant selves.
Is your ability to think differently hindered by an unconscious view that creativity doesn't belong in the boardroom? It's an all-too-common mistake, but the truth is, creativity is fundamental for business growth and personal fulfilment. If you want to survive in the digital era, you need to pursue your own creative sensibilities and foster creativity in your team. This book shows that original thinking can shake things up, becoming the source of our competitive advantage and a key driver of sustainable success.
- Recognise your own unconventional talent and creative potential
- Transform yourself into a more vibrant and resilient human being ready to lead the world in the fourth industrial revolution
- Cultivate dynamic team environments where people feel safe to explore dangerous ideas
- Instigate a high-level cultural and strategic pivot toward more creativity in your company
Everyday Creative is about creative leadership and the courage to seek, nurture and liberate original thinking. Read this book to learn how to make the essential skill of creativity accessible to all people, regardless of role, title or department.
Over the last few years, I've asked hundreds of people to describe what comes to mind when they first hear the word 'creativity'. The following are a small collection of real responses:
- endless possibility, borderless thinking, joyful expression
- fun, freedom, playfulness, curiosity, energy, excitement, colour, vibrancy, authenticity, vulnerability, uniqueness, originality
- letting go of control, hands in the air, challenging the norm, thinking outside the box, living life on your own terms, making yourself and others smile.
I then ask them to describe their relationship to creativity. Here are some of the responses:
- love/hate, long-distance, frayed, tortured
- 'It's something I love but don't prioritise enough in both work and life'; stigma around it being frivolous, indulgent and a waste of time
- 'I crave the time to dream up new solutions and play with interesting ideas but almost always suppress it because of the constant pressure to deliver.'
- 'It's something I know I have but often squander to get the job done. And whenever I do that I'm never satisfied with the result.'
- 'It's the thing that brings me the most joy but also the thing I find most difficult to dedicate time to.'
And when I ask them to define their company's relationship to creativity, I hear this:
- nonexistent, complicated, misunderstood, delusional
- 'There's a desire for more creativity but it's mostly suffocated by process and bureaucracy.'
- 'It's encouraged, especially on training days, but it often gets lost in the day-to-day pressure to get results.'
- 'There's an openness to it and a recognition that the traditional path won't get us where we need to go. However, there is a dominant, well-established operating model supported by people at all levels of the organisation who primarily value safety and certainty.'
So here we see the dysfunctional love triangle that exists between creativity, business and us.
We love it, we value it and we want more of it in our work and life. But we can't seem to squeeze it into our overflowing task list. And despite our company calling for more innovative thinking, the systems and processes that hold the business together don't seem to enable it.
This book sets out to solve this sticky situation. To give you simple tools to recover your innate creativity (if you feel you've lost it) or amplify it in your work and life (if it's just a little blocked). To reaffirm for you that creativity is the foundation of finding and forming new value, which makes it the strongest driver of your competitive advantage and commercial success.
By the time we finish our conversation, it is my hope that you become more than just an Everyday Creative, but a loud, vocal advocate for its value in life and especially at work.
Defining Everyday Creativity
To try and define creativity is like trying to hold smoke. It's as elusive as it is essential. As personal as it is universal. Which makes writing a book about it delightfully difficult.
The most widely accepted definition is that creativity is the process of combining two separate things to produce something original and useful. For the purpose of this book, let's start there.
Our intention is to become masterful at remixing and repurposing the world around us into something useful, meaningful and beautiful.
And why 'everyday'? As Annie Dillard famously said, 'How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives'. It's easy to get swept up in grandiose visions of big projects, global domination and org-wide transformation. But the biggest dreams and most beautiful working lives are built on the back of small, conscious and consistent actions.
But to be clear, we're not necessarily talking about art here. We won't be working on your watercolour technique or practising scales on the guitar (unless you choose to). Having said that, if during our discovery you decide that your future lies on Broadway, I'm all for it. But our focus is on developing a mindset that has:
- a natural bias for the new and the next
- the courage to consistently choose alternate possibilities over predictable approaches
- the discipline to do it every single day, in the smallest and largest of ways.
The underlying essence of this book, however, is that you will come to define what creativity is for you. You'll decide, through your own lived experience, what it is, why it matters and how best to use it.
By exploring the ideas and exercises presented in these pages, you'll have the tools to rewrite your own relationship with creativity. You'll start to redesign your life so that you can more easily access it. And begin to reimagine the infinite number of ways you can apply it in your work and career to tremendous effect.
Choose your own adventure
First, I want you to understand why this book is different, and why it's dangerous .
Most books on creativity fail to demonstrate how fundamental it is for success and fulfilment in business and life. Nor do they express the urgency with which I believe all of us should be pursuing our own creative sensibilities.
They often leave readers with little more than a few tired platitudes, a bunch of boring anecdotes, and a handful of generic 'brainstorming activities' (that almost always involve coloured markers and post-it notes).
This book is different. It doesn't attempt to reduce or generalise the creative process. Because creativity can't be reduced to a generalised process. It's subjective, idiosyncratic and infinite. And besides, despite my best efforts to help get you there .
finding your way back to your creativity is itself an act of creativity.
Your journey will be different from mine. Which makes it all the more meaningful. Therefore, it's best to think about this book as a series of provocations, not prescriptions. There is no 'one way' to read it, and no 'right outcome' as a result of it. However you feel and whatever you create while reading, it's entirely personal and reassuringly perfect.
Every exercise or example is taken from my own lived experience or the experiences of people I know and trust. People who found the courage to put a little more creativity into their life. A little more personality into their work. A little more humanity into their workplace.
You will have your own stories to tell. Your own roadblocks to overcome. Your own style of perceiving and processing the insights and inspiration you encounter. My recommendation is that you make the process of reading this book creative.
What does that mean?
It means scribble on the text, dog-ear the edges, tear out pages and make them into paper planes if you must. Get yourself a journal and rewrite passages you love in your own words. Draw pictures of the monsters that have been preventing you from creating. Write poems and songs and sonnets and short stories. Write business ideas, draw stage setups and design marketing plans as you go.
If you want this book to make a difference to you, you've got to make it work for you.
Just to reassure you, this book won't tell you to quit your job. It doesn't demand that you take up the violin or move to Berlin. But it will ask important things of you - things that might be uncomfortable to confront or inconvenient to apply. But that's why you're here, isn't it? To step beyond the obvious and into the outrageous. To leave the confines of convention and fully embrace your rare, radical and resplendent self.1
So let's get to the heart of it.
This book is a cold shower wake-up call for people who want a more meaningful experience at work.
It's for the people who are tired of the uninspired, risk-averse, bureaucratic bullshit that is rife within most corporate workplaces. It's for the courageous few who have a deep desire to put more play into their work, more joy into their job and more meaning into the relationships they share with their colleagues and clients.
This book can be the answer to the question we've all been asking about our work: 'Is this it?'
When you commit to your creative recovery you become a powerful participant in a radical revolution. You'll join a colourful cast of misfits and mavericks, rebels and renegades, outsiders and originals who are changing how and why we work.
Don't for a second underestimate how important this is. We live in crazy times. The world is burning, the robots2 are coming and the challenges we face are too fast and fierce for us to follow the rules.
The world we live in used to value those who could ace the test. The ones who could memorise information, master instruction and make exact replicas of the original. Now we have machines for that. Machines that don't need to be fed or need a break. Machines that don't get upset or ask for time off. They just produce, consistently and efficiently.
What the world values now are those of us who can...