I am not sure if the topic came to mind because I am reflecting on my past jobs – both good and bad – or if it is because I just finished reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly. I do feel inspired to write about creativity or the killing of it.
I have been thinking back to when I felt the most inspired at work and when I felt the most disengaged. When I talk about creativity I am not just talking about creating art or building something concrete. I am referring more to being able to openly and boldly share ideas or thoughts. This brings me to this question – What stopped me? Everyone has been in this place. We share, we stand at the front of the room, at the boardroom table, in front of our parents, our friends, we “boldly go” where we have not gone before, or, where we have not allowed ourselves to go before. We put ourselves out there and then something happens. We end up crawling back in our safe space. Curl up in our own fetal position and we rock back and forth for safety. When reading Daring Greatly the “what stopped me” question was answered with one word – SHAME. Shame happened. Not that I was feeling shame for what I said although that is what ended up happening. It was more that I was being shamed for my ideas, thoughts, creative process. By who??? By those in power – the leaders, or the perceived leaders. When you sit around a boardroom table and those above you, or those equal to you, end up ridiculing your idea in front of you they shame you. My idea may not be right for the particular project but it may be right for another one. It is not, however, recognized as being anything but stupid, crazy and thoughtless. How do I know? Because these are the words used from those around me. The other shame tactic is SILENCE. Throw out an idea out you can hear a pin drop..then it is ignored,
So..the question becomes when you have a culture of killing creativity where are the ideas going to come from? Is the expectation that those that have been silenced will continue to speak and contribute at other meetings? Have you just created an environment of disengagement? Instead of asking what is wrong with your employees? Why are they not contributing? Ask yourself how you are leading. Then ask yourself what shift needs to happen?