“You cannot create results, you can only create conditions in which something might happen.” -Anne Bogart
As managers and directors we can focus on developing an environment that instills fear of error, with constant correction, or we can create an environment where mistakes are not necessarily mistakes, but sacred expeditions.
The funny thing about a mistake is that it is a judgement. What is the reference point for deciding whether something is a mistake? Its really a matter of opinion. It is your censored, logical brain saying that because something is not the norm, it is wrong. What if we challenged ourselves to see “mistakes” as opportunities? What if they aren’t mistakes, but added value.
3M’s entire business changed when they invented the post-it note. You know how it was invented? By mistake. They were trying to develop a certain type of glue for another product and somewhere along the way they made a mistake and produced this glue that could stick, but then be removed and re-stuck. If someone had not had the hindsight to see this “mistake” as a brilliant new invention, I wonder where 3M would be today.
The same goes for the rehearsal room and our artistic pursuits endeavoured in solitude. We have to make sure we are not always nourishing logic, but keeping it in check and allowing ourselves to enter the realm of the unknown. This is how creativity is bread and fostered. As Seth Godin would put it, as artists and business people we have to practice telling our lizard brain to shut up! This is the part of our brain that wants to survive. To see things linear, but if we stay here, then there will never be unique or original content within our work(s) or product(s).
Even the artist experiences blocks and business people slowly lose their creativity over time because they are constantly trying to manage the bottom line, improve quality and decrease losses. How can you foster creativity within in your own brain, let alone an organizations culture if you only ever feed the reasoning side of your brain as a leader? How can you begin to rekindle your artist brain? So you can remain open to new mistakes, I mean innovations that probably take place around you daily.
Julie Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, suggests something called morning pages. They are not for writers exclusively. It is an exercise for anyone looking to rekindle their artistic brain. Get up every morning and write three pages without stopping. On these pages you write ANYTHING that comes into your head, even if it is “I have nothing to write about, I’m tired etc.” Often the pages will become repetitive and filled with your fears, anxieties and everything your censor has to say. Over time, done regularly, your inner artist will begin to wake up again. She suggests not letting anyone read your morning pages and not reading them yourself for at least the first 8 weeks. In general I recommend The Artist Way for anyone looking to rediscover or rekindle their creative self.