Every day we have choices. We are responsible for stewarding our creativity and creative teams through the very turbulent waters we face each day. With budgets shrinking, teams getting smaller, and demands getting larger, it feels like we are consistently surrounded with boundaries. But, boundaries can become our greatest ally. With them, we get to choose if we buy into excuses or create opportunities. What are four common boundaries we all face that aim to destroy our creative processes?
Every creative persona and team faces them. From tighter deadlines, to dwindling resources, to a lack of direction or data, the list of constraints goes on and on. We look at all these issues and start to feel defeated. The truth is, however, without these constraints we may have too many options. Constraints help to define what the canvas for our creativity looks like and gives us a scope for what it is that we’re creating. Our best creative work starts to surface when we are forced to be creative inside imaginary lines; when we are challenged by the opportunity and resources we have at our disposal and are not overwhelmed by possibilities paralyzing us and keeping us from starting. When we are forced to deal with conditions, it allows us to dream, work, improvise, and forces our best creative ideas to be uncovered and not just bought. Constraints can become our allies, though, as they help us define what we are creating, when it must be created, how it is executed, and to what level we are able to execute.
When we get brave enough to face failure, it starts to teaches us resilience. A Newsweek article on creativity in America uncovered the following: “Highly creative adults frequently grew up with hardship. Hardship by itself doesn’t lead to creativity, but it does force kids to become more flexible — and flexibility helps with creativity.” Daily we have to remember that the best creative teams stay flexible and adapt to their surroundings. Flexibility and how we handle failure teaches us how to be resilient. We are all going to fail. The way we beat failure is not by never failing, but by getting back up when we fail. Getting back up separates great creative professionals from weekend warriors. Getting back up and trying again is how we out-hustle failure. It’s a mentality. Our creativity continues to improve when we’re committed to getting back up.
This seems like an odd boundary, but success lures us towards complacency. It drains the urgency out of our creative teams and processes. Success tricks us into becoming comfortable. When we lose urgency, our creativity begins to dry up and we start to rest on previous wins. We don’t realize that our momentum is slipping and we believe we are better than we are. We should celebrate success and wins as a creative team but then, get back to work. We should work on every project like it’s our first and our last.
Instability forces us to become improv artists. These people thrive on whatever is thrown their way by exterior forces. They learn that no two performances will ever be the same. As creative professionals and creative teams, we need to be nimble enough to respond to the instability around us – much like an improv artist. When we learn this trick and realize our plans are just an outline, it forces us to be our most creative selves. There will always be a curve we did not expect. We have to learn to use these obstacles as opportunities.
As boundaries appear in our lives, allow our creativity to be used to turn them from problems to propellers that push us to our most creative work.
What are some boundaries you have found that help you boost your creativity?