We’re up to the last of our three part article on “How To Be Creative At Work“, looking at the Artist/Creator and Storyteller, these last two play personalities are my highest scoring ones…but they can shuffle around, none are fixed 🙂 Obviously, when we’re seeing creativity touted as the most sought after characteristic in business leaders today, then the Artist/Creator is going to be considered useful in our work. This is a fairly recent phenomenon though, usually creatives have been considered weird, flaky, eccentric or just unreliable.
The artist play personality may find they get into their zone through any number of activities. It can be a regular creative activity like painting, drawing or design, or it could be more unusual, like engineering or tinkering with things. Pulling machines apart and putting them back together can be a highly creative activity, or it could be gardening or cooking. There are endless things that can be considered artistic and creative pursuits.
The big hint is, an Artist/Creator makes something. They create something new that didn’t exist prior to them making it, whether it’s from existing objects like mechanical parts or raw materials, like vegetables or block of clay. It’s this ability of the Artist/Creator play personality that makes them so sought after in business. As Dr. Brown says, Artist/Creators just love to make something, whether it’s beautiful, functional, quirky or just to make something work. This is a highly lucrative ability to have in business, as customers always want at least one, or all of those elements in the products and services they spend money on.
Artist/Creators access the unknown, or the sub conscious/super conscious mind when they’re playing around and being creative. They can bring new insights, new things, novel things into the realm of our sensory perception. The Artist/Creator accesses insights and information that has previously not been within reach of the conscious mind, perhaps only in our unconscious or super conscious. This stuff gets me freakishly excited! (BTW, one of our readers, Terry, has been waiting patiently for me to write more about this aspect of creativity. I haven’t forgotten Terry, it’s going to be in the article that follows this one 🙂 .)
Now, just a note on this, all play personalities/people can, and do access their unconscious or super conscious mind, it’s not a gift specifically for Artist/Creators. But usually it’s something this play personality does as a matter of course in their preferred way to play, because a big part of the creative process is making something exist that we have previously not been able to perceive with sensory perception.
Creatives can be aware of their ability to drop into the unknown and bring information back, others just do it. All the play personalities might actually be bringing insights and information in from the unconscious or super conscious mind just as much, but they may not be so aware of it, or of the process in which they do this, because they don’t consider the creative element involved in what they’re doing as activities.
It’s been discussed in detail that the biggest hindrance to creativity is lack of autonomy or freedom. This is extremely apparent when it comes to the Artist/Creator play personality being able to make use of their abilities at work.
A big part of the Artist/Creator process is playing around with ideas and concepts, putting things together and pulling them apart, trying out a multitude of ways of doing things in order to come up with a winning strategy or solution to their problem. This goes for everything, whether it’s cooking, painting, sculpting or marketing, team management and business building. Because this play personality is engaged in creating a new way, a new solution, a new form, there is a lot of trial and error, a lot of practice, testing and failing involved in their creative process.
In order for you to be able to make use of this play personality at work, you need to be able to work on projects that give you a lot of freedom and autonomy. Some work roles allow for this very effectively, designers and engineers are often given a reasonable degree of freedom to create within set guidelines. And certain guidelines are not only necessary, but extremely helpful, like having a time frame to work to. Those types of guidelines are very beneficial for the creative process.
Savvy employers know that they’ll get the best results if they allow the creative members of their team to work things out in their own way. If this is not something that is a normal part of the Artist/Creator work role, then we need to give ourselves creative projects outside of work that will give us this.
One of the things I’ve found that helps people a lot in their creative process is being able to physically manipulate different elements of the project they’re working on. Being able to have both a visual and kinesthetic experience of picking up parts of the work and moving them around can really help clear creative blocks and get things flowing. It also brings another perspective, which we have discussed previously for enhancing creativity.
I had a client recently who was very blocked in her own writing process. I suggested she gets together a bunch of images or symbols to represent each chapter of her book, or even just the main points in her message, then lay them out in front of her any format that seemed “right”. She looked at the images and symbols, and moved them around, added more if any new insights surfaced and noticed the order in which she was placing them. As she moved the physical components of her book around in front of her, it began to take shape and unlock her creativity for the writing process.
I love gardening, my garden is sadly neglected right now as I am so busy with a million other things that require my attention. I don’t actually ever want gardening to be the way I earn money, I prefer to write, speak and draw instead. But the creative act of gardening puts me in a play state where I’m in a zone that allows me to access information and insights that I can bring back to the work I do, which generates money for me.
So if your work does not allow you to get into the Artist/Creator play state, you need to find ways to incorporate it in life outside of work, doing whatever it is you love to do as an Artist/Creator, like playing in the garden, cooking, dabbling with paints or tinkering with software programs or car parts. In doing so, you can get into your creative zone, and return to work refreshed with new insights and ideas.
Finally! We’re on to our last play personality! The Storyteller, this one is one of the most powerful play personalities in our lives. The gift of storytelling goes back to the beginning of human civilization, we are literally wired to learn, retain and share information through stories. Stories help us see patterns and understand our lives, they seem to be a necessity for comprehension of the world around us.
I hear a lot of speakers, I hear and read a lot of information, but I generally remember the stories whilst other information gets filed somewhere in my mind and I often never find it again. Storytelling is the single most powerful and effective way to convey information and ideas to other humans. It’s the single most powerful way to influence other people. Please read those last two sentences again, I really want this to sink in.
If we have products and services we want to share with the world, then making use of our storyteller play personality is going to be one of the most powerful ways to get information to our customers about who we are and what we do because we love listening to stories and we naturally retain the information better in stories. Our storyteller play personality has the most influence over what information our customers retain and what conclusions they come to about us and our products or services. There is a whole article in this, if not a whole book, but I’ve got a few paragraphs to work with here, so let’s summarize.
The Storyteller play personality can be at ease in many work environments, because they spend their time playing in their imagination. They are simply individuals who make up stories in their minds to explain things they’re experiencing or entertain themselves. Storytellers can be writers, speakers, actors, film directors, business leaders or politicians, but anyone in any work role can embody this play personality.
In order to integrate this aspect of your play personality into your work, you simply turn your experience into a story in your imagination. What’s particularly cool about this play personality, because we’re using our imagination, we can narrate our stories to have any outcome we like, even if the reality is looking different.
When you stop to think about it, we have stories running rampant in our minds all day long anyway. Did anyone see the film, “Bridget Jones’ Diary”? (Total chick flick – I know! But I had to watch it☺) The point is, like the character, Bridget Jones, we’re all making little remarks and telling ourselves little stories in our minds about what we’re experiencing or remembering from our past the whole time.
So we’re all storytellers and we’re all accessing this aspect of our play personality every day. We can use this in a far more beneficial way by imagining stories about our work and our lives that inspire and uplift us rather than take us off on a negative tangent, which is, unfortunately, what our minds will often do when left to tell stories without our conscious attention.
Storytelling using our imagination can be a form of mental priming or visualization, something that elite athletes and peak performers use all the time. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. We can use this in our work to mentally prime and visualize the beginning, middle and end of whatever project we work on, and see what insights or information we can gather about our project as we create an imagined story about it. We can mentally rehearse things in our work by creating stories about them. The characters in the story can be people or they can be the different elements of the project we’re working on, or both, put together to make up a story.
Using our imagination, we make up stories about whatever we’re working on, and then mentally manipulate the different elements and characters of the story to create our desired outcome. Look at ways in which you can translate the story into your real working environment or project.
There is a massive amount of information available on the power of storytelling in business, and I will write another article just on this. In essence, it’s vastly powerful because of the way stories are spread with ease through communities and have so much influence on our memory and perception of people and things. So if we are masterful at creating and sharing a story about who we are in business and what we offer the world, this can be the most influential sales and marketing tool there is.
An example of how this works is bad press, think about how fast and effectively a negative image about a person or business can spread through their community, this is the power of story. A story can spread like wild fire by word of mouth and stick like glue in the minds of existing or potential customers. If it’s particularly damaging, it can cripple your business, if it’s a good story, it can elevate your business to a new level.
But just remember, we’re wired to remember negative or painful things even more so than positive, because we want to protect ourselves against pain, so a very negative story can have more impact than a positive one. Make sure you know what the story is you create and generate about your own business, and make it congruent about who you are and what you do, and be aware that if you are not in control of this process, then others can make up the story for you (a bit like branding) and spread that instead. This is fine if the stories being generated about you and your work are great, but obviously creating them ourselves is preferable.
Just before I sign off, there’s a cool site which has a free story test. It’s tests your ability to know the difference between a story and just recounting information. I did the survey and scored 5 out of 10! That’s pretty bad! But some of the stories were pretty boring so I don’t think I rated them 🙂 I can improve now anyway, so all is not lost.
Thanks for reading, please add any comments you have at the end, and remember you can also find out how you rate for the Artist/Creator and Storyteller play personalities if you do the Creative Character survey on my site. Have fun and good luck playing with the tests and surveys.
P.S. I mentioned I would post some pics and videos from my week at the Gallery of Modern Art last week. Finally got to taking some on my last day there today! Here’s one from the Infinity Room 🙂 There’s some video of it as well plus a few other amazing art works, but I wasn’t allowed to take any in the room with all the finches and it was my favorite 🙁