“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.” (Virginia Woolf)
If you find yourself on empty or “stuck” at work – consider exploring a free, mind-altering drug that can change the way you solve problems, and even view life: creativity.
By stimulating the right side of your brain, you get to supercharge your thoughts, and release a whole new collection of ideas just waiting to be unearthed. If you consider yourself traditionally left-brained, or analytical — imagine operating on all 8 cylinders, not just 4 — by engaging your “other half.” There’s a power in twice the surge, and all it takes is a little trust — trust that stepping outside your comfort zone can lead to new discoveries—about yourself, and your creative capabilities.
How? By starting.
Get honest about what artistic passion lies inside you, and allow yourself to play. Free yourself to be spontaneous, and explore new ways of expressing your thoughts. It may mean a few discordant notes, or an impulsive scribble (Pic #1), but the process can truly take you to new places.
While it sounds like an oxymoron, the most “freeing commitment” I’ve ever made was to set a time for 10-minutes of artmaking every day. I started last March, and haven’t missed a day since. The art comes in many forms –- painting, collage, photography—and it’s now become a precious ritual that I hate to miss — even if I get to it a midnight. It happens to be my way of kick-starting the creative process. And I have since discovered these daily sessions have enriched my corporate work — and my life.
Creativity means business:
If “creating for the sake of creating” doesn’t get your attention, how about unexpected profits? Read on to see how one woman saved her company hundreds of thousands of dollars by jumpstarting her right brain with a Taylor guitar. Let me share:
My colleague Mary Reeves is an experienced corporate controller. (Pic #3) She recently ran the accounting department at a successful firm in Southern California that makes electronic components for computers and modems.
As controller, of course, it was her duty to find ways to save the company money, and improve its efficiency. She knew their products were in demand, and sales were brisk, but she didn’t understand why it took so long to get the orders into consumers’ hands.
She wondered if there was a way to cut down on the clunky system that had merchandise shipping from Hong Kong to California (through the company’s customs bond) then re-packaged before being sent out again to customers. She asked executives if there was a way to expedite orders so that they could be sent directly to their clients. No one had an answer, and her frustration grew.
At the same time, at night after work, Mary began studying and playing music. She told me the process of playing guitar — which requires left and right hands working together while performing vastly different tasks — engaged both sides of her brain, and had profound consequences. Then, learning to sing — while playing — intensified the experience even more. She said it was a slow, awkward process -– but in the end, worth it.
Then one day, Mary had a chat with the local Federal Express rep about her frustration with the company’s shipping policies, and the lights went on. It turns out FedEx has an “International Priority Plan” that ships through Alaska, and saves 5-days of delivery time. Mary pitched the plan to her company, and execs jumped on board. Soon, consumers saw the benefit of lightening-fast delivery, and the word spread. And oh, by the way, Mary saved her company over half a million dollars.
The connection? Our now “balanced-brained” controller says the only reason she was able to pull off this fantastic feat was that she expanded her thinking – by engaging both sides of her brain. She told me she has no doubt that her consistent “play” led to her creative, successful wins at work. It’s also why she reveres Albert Einstein’s passion for the violin — as explained in an excerpt from his biography — “Einstein: His Life and His Universe” by Walter Isaacson:
Music was no mere diversion. On the contrary, it helped him think. “Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or faced a difficult challenge in his work,” said his son Hans Albert, “he would take refuge in music and that would solve all his difficulties.” The violin thus proved useful during the years he lived alone in Berlin, wrestling with general relativity. “He would often play his violin in his kitchen late at night, improvising melodies while he pondered complicated problems,” a friend recalled. “Then, suddenly, in the middle of playing, he would announce excitedly, “I’ve got it!’