The ‘Old Fashioned’ Kind of Creativity

on April 25 | in Career | by | with No Comments

What comes to mind when we hear the word ‘creativity?’  If you are like most people you think of musicians or dancers.  We mainly think of visual artists.  There is no doubt that M.F. Husain is creative.  I recently read about a car dealership in Dubai.  Mr. Husain walked in for a meeting with the President and doodled a picture while waiting.  The rest of us would have checked out the magazine collection or caught up on our phone calls. 

It is fairly well known that Steve Jobs took a class in calligraphy while he was at Reed College.  This is widely credited with the reason why fonts available on Apple products are so much lovelier than on competing products.  What is not as well known is that he also took a class in ‘modern dance.’  Why would a techie take a dance class?  The same reason that most men do….to meet women. 

Like calligraphy, learning from dance class came in handy when rendering movement onscreen.  According to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology by Kevin Escheleman, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University in the US, not only do creative activities help us recharge our souls, they also help with greater problem solving skills which increase our effectiveness at the office. 

In his study of 92 active US Air Force captains were asked what they did in their downtime.  As they defined ‘creative activities’ on their own terms, thus they included anything from writing short stories to playing video games.  Researchers noted that the captains who pursued creative options had not only stronger problem solving skills, they were also better at helping co-workers.  Captains were evaluated by both peers and underlings ensuring more accurate correlation than a self-reported study.

Much of what companies want from their employees can be done by very gently encouraging employees to pursue hobbies in their downtime.  Companies can give forum to display talents (like Zappos displays employee art) or provide tickets to a music concert.  The nudge has to be gentle, to not take away intrinsic motivation. 

So, you have it, if the ultimate ‘macho men,’ Air Force pilots, can find time to be add a little ‘M.F Husain’ type endeavours to their life, so can you, even if the payoffs are not as handsome as those to Steve Jobs.    

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