We drew pictures before we wrote words

Creativity

Why is it when I ask people if they see themselves as creative, most people say ‘no’? Yet when those same people are given the opportunity to be creative the creativity that flows from them is astonishing?

Last week we hosted a Lucidity Network event with our partners Not9to5 on creativity at work, starring artist Jenny Leonard at the brilliant Spaces in Angel Islington.

When our guests started to show up and they saw tables with pens and paper in preparation for them drawing things, I know several people reached for some courage in the form of wine!

We are all creative

We are all creative. The biggest barrier I’ve found if that people don’t believe that they are. Think back to being a kid (or think of your own kids) we used to create all the time. An empty cardboard box could be a castle, a spaceship, a shop counter or an aquarium.

Yet somehow as we get older, we worry more about what other people think and about getting things ‘right’. We draw less. Drawing is a way of communicating. It’s a visual language. Human beings drew pictures before we wrote words. It’s not a case of being able to ‘draw’ its about being able to create and communicate.

Jenny helped us learn to create and communicate though a series of drawing exercises. Everyone had some A4 paper and a pen. Let me give you a flavour of what we did.

First everyone was asked to draw circles. There was no ‘right’ we just drew in whatever way we wanted. We compared circles. Everyone’s page was different. Not surprising, yet it actually was weirdly surprising at how different everyone’s circles pages were. It also helped people to relax, signalling it wasn’t about who was good at drawing. (In fact if you choose to use drawing in a work context you might choose to create a level playing field so no one can be a ‘good’ draw-er, for example you could get everyone to tape their pencil to a stick and draw from the end of the stick not the pencil. Or ask people to draw with their non dominant hand or draw with their eyes shut).

Then we drew something super simple, the wine glass on the table, then we built up to draw a frog, before really going for it with a dinosaur.

The next task was to create a character, any character that came to mind that might feature in a story. Then we passed the paper to person to left and they added something else to the picture, before passing the paper to the left again for the next addition. The final pass to the left involved making a speech bubble and writing something in it.

Take-aways

Once people relaxed into the tasks the fear feeling in the room shifted to a playful dynamic.It was fun. There was laughter and people were happy to share their creations.

The drawing exercises engage a different part of our brain to when we write. They help us to play. The more we play, the more we invent. In fact psychologists as far back as the 1970’s have linked creativity to being more about your mindset than anything else and that we are more likely to be creative when we are in a playful mindset.

Innovation and creativity is about collaboration. The rich insights we get from others input makes the sum of the parts more valuable than working away on your own.

If we can use some of these exercises in our work it can change dynamics and encourage and inspire creativity. They might even break the cycle of the same old ideas churning round and round the boardroom and provide breakthrough’s into new, exciting and different ideas. You just have to be brave enough to break the ‘how we do things here’ patterns and give it a go.

Join the creativity at work webinar

If you want to learn more, practice creativity and build your bravery for using drawing to help your colleagues explore creative thinking and problem solving, join us on the creativity at work webinar on Saturday 15 February at 11am. This webinar is just £10 and you also get a free months membership of the Lucidity Network which through coaching, training and events helps you to be braver, be more creative and make more impact. Here’s your link to sign up for your creativity at work webinar. 

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