My background, many years ago was in engineering. In fact my degree was in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology. When I worked in Scotland for a large boiler manufacturers, creativity was the last thing on my mind or anyone else’s. We had project plans to complete (to the letter) – we also had to deliver on time and with utmost consideration to safety.
From engineering I moved to the I.T. Industry where I worked for IBM as an I.T. Instructor. Not much creativity there; there were commands to learn, sub-routines to code and concepts to share. And yet I remember with relish, how I designed a course on the basics of programming which involved an alien, some Ribena and deely-boppers for those who remember what those were!
At school I loved art and made a very distinct choice between art and science. I could keep one as a hobby (the art of course), whilst building a career in the other. The choice was so distinct in my eyes and so I kept my hobbies to fulfill that deep need in me to be creative.
Now, as a trainer, I love to be creative and get very excited about new activities, training toys or new ways of delivering old messages, that are still valid. But this question has left me thinking about my former careers and why I did not use my creativity in them. There is no disputing that I am creative – so why was there seemingly no (or limited) place for this in my previous roles?
Could, it be that I forgot to use my creativity in those traditionally non-creative roles? Could I have used my creativity to deal with some awkward managers? Or what about those male engineers who found it impossible to speak to a female engineer without being condescending? Whilst an IT trainer did I “pigeon-hole” my role, to exclude any creativity? Quite simply, did I forget to be creative?
I think the answer for me, is in my preconceptions about creativity. I used to think that creativity was all about painting and being artistic. Now when I consider creativity, I am astounded when someone comes up with a new way to deal with absence. I am impressed when faced with a seemingly impassable junction, the creative leader can navigate their way out with apparent ease. These people, in effect are creative and not in the traditional way that I had considered creativity. This has made me consider creativity to encompass a whole host of differing skills from managing difficult children to arranging a supermarket aisle to maximise sales of expensive items.
So … if I were to ask you ….. if you are creative? What would you say?