One of the things that I struggled with as an art student was the sense of ‘play.’ When I was doing my job? It didn’t feel like work – a great thing! But I also couldn’t quite figure out how to prepare for it, other than spending time in a practice room, doing as much research as I could, and trying to wear my creative heart on my sleeve. My family knew I was working, but I knew that they didn’t really understand or respect the training that I was saturated in: even my über-supportive dad called Eurhythmics my “Walking-And-Chewing-Gum Class.” (The fact that I got B my first semester? Well, that tidbit was brought up every time I got a little too big for my britches.)
Fast forward more years than I’m comfortable admitting: I spend more time doing work my family can wrap their heads around: spreadsheets and budgets and talent searches and hiring teachers and writing curriculum and proposals and grant applications. But the moments when I feel really energized at work are still those moments when I can think outside the box, lift restrictions, ask “what if?” and let my mind wander until it finds something interesting…when I can play.
I came across this article several weeks ago. In it, Linda Essig of Creative Infrastructure proposes that organizations do that very thing that I’ve been struggling with: to attack problems and situations (in this case, strategic planning) on two fronts: the analytical and the creative/emotional. Analytics and data are important in the life or an organization – but organizations are run by people, and we are some messy, messed-up beings, not easily squeezed into data sets or projections or strategic outcomes.
So, are you more creative/emotional? Or more analytical? Whichever side you identify more strongly with, I invite you to take a look over the neighbor’s fence and see what your opposites are doing…there’s always something to learn, right?