“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.”- Barbara Januszkiewicz
Just two days into their mission an explosion occurred on board their vessel. The crew of the now famed Apollo 13 space mission, found themselves in the midst of a life and death struggle a quarter of a million miles from earth. Houston ground control had to exercise some unprecedented creative thinking to find a solution.
Adding to this pressure-packed situation was a rapidly depleting oxygen supply, which may or may not run out before the crew froze to death. They had to find a solution in an increasingly diminishing time frame, and utilize only what was on board the spacecraft.
This was an exercise in extreme creative thinking. On the surface everyone understood what they were looking at, it was the solution beneath the surface that would put their creative potential to the test.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
The world-renowned sculptor Michelangelo said; “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” –This is creative potential
Creative leaders are a lot like Michelangelo in that they are innovative and solution-oriented people. Knowing where to chisel is certainly a talent, knowing where not to is a skill, now doing that for your team is a rare gift indeed. This is precisely what Houston ground control was facing with the Apollo 13 Mission.
Like a sculptor who must adapt to the makeup of the stone he/she is working with, so to a creative leader must understand their environment and know how to use the tools at their disposal.
If you’re creative you’ll tend to feel at home in ever-changing environments with all its moving parts. You also have an ability to bring clarity to an apparently random situation, while helping your team understand its usefulness to their overall purpose.
“Being creative means standing outside of the norm, you must cultivate a willingness to challenge every rule and assumption.” – John C. Maxwell
1. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
Left Brain Leaders
Left Brain Leaders are analytically driven leaders, who rely on the hard facts and weigh the odds for success and the risks for potential failure before rendering a decision. They like to have every step mapped out – that’s how they’re wired.
Right Brain Leaders
Right Brain Leaders are creative leaders who address the same issues that analytically driven leaders do, they just do it more intuitively. Like Michelangelo, they see the big picture and understand the risk that comes with each strike of the chisel. Yet they can sense the contours of that angel trapped within the marble.
Creative leaders are comfortable walking the tightrope between intuitiveness and analytics, and it’s vital to always combine the two. Utilizing both was a powerful component for Houston ground control in bringing the astronauts safely home.
It’s been said that being analytical without being intuitive makes for a brilliant non-impactful leader while being Intuitive without being analytical breeds spontaneity without direction. Always be prepared, informed, and learn to trust yourself (many times your first impressions are the best).
2. STRIKE WHILE THE IRON’S HOT
Momentum is a leaders’ best friend. Being a perfectionist can easily delay the usefulness of a brilliant idea. While trying to account for every possibility the door of opportunity can slam shut.
Good creative leaders have learned to anticipate problems and make adjustments on the move; that’s the mark of experienced creative leaders. They thrive on problem-solving under pressure because they see problems as opportunities to challenge and sharpen their skills.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH CREATIVE THINKERS
The saying “Great minds think alike” is just as true for a creative thinker as anyone else. Spend time with creative thinkers and be challenged and inspired by them. The help that comes from being exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking will take your creativity to new levels. You can also try doing Logic puzzles or Sudoku to stimulate your thinking.
4. BE AN ORIGINAL
While it’s natural to emulate those who inspire you, don’t become a copy. Learn who you are and how you think, and integrate what you learn from others. Taking self-assessments can help you understand how you’re wired.
Practicing the discipline of creative thinking will transform you and your team. You may be reading this and find that you are more analytically inclined. If so, practicing creative thinking will add to your leadership toolbox, and inspire the creative people on your team to take their skills to the next level. Either way, creativity is a win /win for you and your team.