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Creating Successful Leaders

This week I came across an insightful talk on creativity Julie Burnstein gave at a TED Talk conference. As a radio host, Bernstein has interviewed numerous artists, creators and innovators, and began seeing similarities in their take on finding a creative spark. While a bit unconventional, I feel her 4 lessons on creativity ring true for us all:

1. Pay attention to your surroundings. 

“That’s hard to do when you have a leather rectangle in your pocket that takes all of your focus.”

Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in our own little bubbles that we forget there is a busy, beautiful world all around us, right now. Creative people don’t live in bubbles; they engage with the world. Doing so fuels their work. So keep your eyes open. Opportunities, inspiration and unique ideas surround you at this very moment.

2. Some of life’s difficulties create the best breakthroughs. Difficulty, hardship, and failure boost positive creativity by forcing us to think in new ways. For instance, someone having ongoing trouble finding a job will need to eventually adapt by getting creative. Whether it’s modifying their goals or their strategy, they’ll most certainly need to think in ways they hadn’t before, i.e., creatively.

3. Pushing up against the limits of what you can do will help you discover what you thrive at. Using the example I gave above, it would be easy for this job-seeking person to get discouraged and simply give up, but she doesn’t have to do that. Instead, she should acknowledge her personal limits, which we all have. She has found what doesn’t work for her and now possesses a better sense of where her strengths lie. To put it simply, discovering what we can’t do forces us to look, think, and act creatively with the strengths we have.

4. The embrace of loss.

“In order to create you have to stand in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for, looking squarely at rejection and heartbreak, at war and death.”

This morning, I heard a radio story about an entrepreneur with a pretty simple idea: selling soccer balls. But his inspiration came from seeing Afghani children kicking around a wadded up ball of garbage. So, he created a line of virtually indestructible soccer balls to be donated to impoverished communities around the world. While the “loss” of a ball is a much lighter example of the loss many of us encounter in life, it shows how loss itself can act as a catalyst for positive creativity and innovation.

Bernstein concludes as such:

“We all wrestle with experience and challenge, limits and loss. Creativity is essential to all of us whether we’re scientists or teachers, parents or entrepreneurs.”

It’s true. Creativity is attainable and important for us all. Every kind of job relies upon creative people, and more importantly, creativity enables us to successfully navigate through life.

You can watch Julie Burnstein’s full talk here:

4 Lessons In Creativity

“4 Lessons in Creativity,” TED Talks, accessed November 13, 2012.



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