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Embrace Creative Failure to Realize Your Best


We’ve been “institutionalized”: creativity is seen as not required, the rare versus the norm, and a luxury that few can afford.

Since industrialism we were taught to suppress our creative selves to become learned worker bees, pooling resources to accomplish a shared goal. We learn a trade, skill, or concept and are siloed off to hone, explore, perfect, and conquer our craft. Exploit it for monetary gain, no extra thought, consideration, or care required. Without concern for our creative selves we have an existence that’s one sided and lacking.

 Embracing our creative selves is often the first thing to dissipate when times are hard. I recently came face-to-face with this cold hard fact when the PA Governor’s School for the Arts ceased to exist – no longer funded as of 2009. I competed for and won a place in this program. It was an amazing time of exploration of fine arts and the intersection with writing, music, acting, dance, and society as a whole. Then suddenly, after 30 years of exploration, amplification, and support the arts were no longer appreciated. How does this happen when creativity is such an important part of who we are?

In order to achieve and sustain a balance of complicated and often conflicting concepts decision makers must actively cultivate critical thought as a mode of being. Ultimately, it is mutual openness - a collaboration of perspectives – that yields sound decisions. The Key to Sound Decision Making


The Boomerang Effect
Conversely, when times are hard it is also the most creative period as we venture to re-invent ourselves and to discover new ways of doing business. What we did before is evidently not enough so, thinking outside of the box becomes more readily accepted.

Creative Failure
Embracing the spirit of creativity does not guarantee a win. In fact, it could open a door to failure. But as the saying goes, “You never know unless you try.” We don’t have to wait for an incubator or an economic crisis to capitalize on creativity. Any organization can create a sustainable environment that allows for exploration and norm divergence without judgment or punishment for perceived “failures.” In fact, it’s most beneficial to engage in the creative edge in some form to stay in tune with the competitive environment.

The ‘AHA!’ moment is often a place you weren’t expecting to be – a mistake. So, creativity happens when you least expect it. It does not happen on demand - it is a process. It begins with an idea, a spark, and the best creative moments occur at the most unexpected intersections, where we did not look - “outside-of-the-box.” However, creativity has a fragile ego. It must be rewarded for existing and not penalized. Punishment leads to quick dissipation. Success finds those who are nimble, flexible, adaptable, and resilient. Being rigid in perspective closes off lines of communication and you may miss that “AHA moment” as others become unwilling to share.

We’re all human and we all fail. It is at this intersection of leadership, understanding, compassion, and creativity that we find the best in ourselves and others.