January is a fresh beginning and seems a great month to inspire leadership. As I embark in a Resolution Reads Non-Fiction challenge, it is time to read the signed books that I purchased at the November Art of Leadership conference. This conference was fantastic and the books will continue to provide motivation. Everyone’s An Artist: How Creativity Gives You an Edge in Everything You Do, written by Ron Tite, Scott Kavanagh and Christopher Novais, is full of great Canadian examples, humour and suggestions to improve creativity.
The book is broken down into 10 chapters each with an idea of improving creativity and creative thinking which are “at the heard of scientific and medical advances, social and political improvement, and personal achievement and satisfaction”:
- Congratulations You’re An Artist – Introduced the idea that creativity is important in all both life and the workplace and is the “key to problem solving and innovation”.
- Reinvent Yourself – Shares the importance of creative thinkers and being open to thinking of yourself as creative rather than labelling yourself. The importance of reinvention and growth was imparted with examples of Steve Martin who has not only been a comedian but also an actor, musician, novelist and most recently curated The Ideas of the North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Suggestions were made to travel, to be open to experience and to constantly evolve.
- Be Unrealistic – Breaking the rules, taking risks, challenging assumptions and sharing ideas help to build creativity.
- Stop, Look and Listen – With our busy lives, balancing work, family, carpool and many other life events make it essential to take the time to stop, look and listen. This fosters creativity and suggestions include taking a quiet walk (like Dickens, Nabakov and Canadian Nobel Prize winner, Alice Munro) or stopping the day to day grind of work to refresh and think in a device free environment. Observation and listening (instead of speaking!) can help determine customer needs and wants and is key to creative thinking.
- Ask Questions – This chapter is dedicated to focusing on questions which open up exploration and problem finding rather than problem solving. This may lead to breakthroughs and challenges to the status quo.
- Get’er Done – Nothing can be done without hard work and this chapter references Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers. He wrote a chapter reviewing a study that found that successful people engaged in more than 10,000 hours to hone their skill.
- No Competition – Shares the idea that inspiration is more important and not to let competition “distract us from being our most creative selves”.
- Hush The Haters (Including the One Inside Your Head) – Haters include the critics, those that share negativity and might be jealous of your own creativity and success. It is important to use their feedback to improve rather than getting frustrated and to find those that you can trust to share honest feedback.
- Flip the Flop – Failure is discussed frequently – in parenting and business, as an important growth strategy. This chapter describes failure as “how we refine, redirect and polish our ideas. It’s how we learn” and shares that “if you are working creatively, you’re going to fail. And when you do, success will be following right behind you”.
- Always Connect – This section deals with empathy and understanding how other’s feel and think, describing the importance of fiction and storytelling in helping others to understand.
This book reminds me of some of the learnings from the MA Leadership program at the University of Guelph – taking time to reflect to be a better leader rather than the constant hamster wheel of work; learning from failures (following the footsteps of many who have failed such as Einstein, Stephen King and sports icons but have worked hard to succeed); and using feedback as a way to grow and improve. The chapters provide helpful reminders and the book is a quick read. The authors have done a great job of finding relevant, Canadian examples and adding humour to the text.
If you have a chance to attend the Art of Leadership conference this year, I would highly recommend it – it is a great day packed with inspiration and insight (and a lot of great books to bring home and enhance the learning of the day)!!