Creativity is like a child whose behavior you can influence but you can’t control. How often is it that we come up with our best ideas at the most inopportune times, like in the shower or when driving and unable to pull over somewhere to quickly jot down a note.
Then there is also the opposite scenario, kind of like being constipated, when you want something to come out, when you wish you can just make creativity happen on the spot, but nothing happens.
This brings me to refer to a recent post by Seth Godin, who I totally admire and respect, yet whose writing often gets me to respond to myself with a “yes, but…” reaction.
I often look forward to reading the thoughtful insights that Mr. Godin expresses on his rightfully-highly-acclaimed blog. Yet somehow, those ideas, maybe because they seem to be presented as universal truths, often trigger my mind to quickly jump to at least one context, exception, scenario, or situation for which the lesson would not apply.
Anyway, that is exactly what happened with his post entitled, “The Cost of Neutral.” The first sentence alone reflects the sentiment of that short post. It is this: “If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn’t come at all.”
Almost unexpectedly, that blunt sentence quickly put me on the defensive and here is why.
Some Thoughts Just Take Longer to Develop than Others
Personally, I think a meeting initiator, whether a neutral leader or an immediate boss, could be making a big mistake to jump too quickly to the conclusion that the appearance of “lack of initiative” in a seemingly neutral group participant means that person is wasting a slot that someone more active would better have filled. While we could easily come up with a list of reasons when that is true, I think we need to also be more aware of situations when the opposite is true, too. And, then don’t forget to look into why.
Speaking for myself, I know that I often get a feeling about something before I can put words to it. I am a slow reader, a slow runner, and I can’t do arithmetic quickly in my head. I also know that these traits do not mean that I’m holding back or that I’m not able to carry my own weight if just given a little more time to do so.
As is known, introverts and extroverts process thoughts and interactions differently. To me, saying anything for the sake of saying something is not my “go to” habit. And, I am sure that I am not alone in this way of being.
The main point I want to make here is that speed of reaction, especially in creative situations, maybe shouldn’t be considered the best, only, or primary criteria for evaluating worthiness or value of the contributors or their contributions. The creative process sometimes needs a little more patience than many of us want to give it.
Remember, creativity is not available on demand like the push button remote that controls many people’s late night television-viewing routines.
What do you think? Do you find that more or less patience is needed in the creative process?