Tired of the same old success stories, Silicon Valley is hot to explore ways to build a new workforce. Entrepreneurs are no longer limited to the idea of a sweatshop computer programmer: In recent years, a growing industry has emerged around the idea of fostering creativity and empathy in a wider variety of people, from the non-conformist journalist to the introverted engineer.
I must confess, I am a huge fan of the TED conference, which has been popularizing these ideas for years. But, as someone who has been helping people redefine their work lives with unexpected effects, such as expanding the reach of their passions (for a non-profit group), it occurs to me that a central aspect of work creativity is to see our own internal resource as infinite.
The U.K. Center for Creative Leadership sponsored a roundtable discussion called " Willpower – a resource for creativity?" We assembled some of the biggest names in thought leadership around art, business, and public relations to figure out how creative people utilize energy.
It seems to me that creativity is an enormous issue for people and organizations right now, with our world facing an increasing lack of creativity. Yet, traditional management theories tend to keep us in the box of natural talent, despite the fact that most of us are not gifted, and we often forget to pass on these qualities to those who are less gifted.
Can we imagine that our value as people is not limited to what we do, but to who we are as people?
The big idea I saw at the roundtable was to join the young generation of young people who are looking for ways to use their innate drive and curiosity to focus on creativity. Let's face it, innovation is hard work. Why don't we encourage organizations to nurture the capability of these gifted people? If we can figure out how to amplify talent, we will be doing a service to ourselves and others.
In fact, because you don't choose your gifts, there are ways you can find more of them, whether it's volunteering, working at a non-profit, or the ideas below.
I first learned the power of willpower to change my life (and make creative people in general more successful) when I was a graduate student in leadership, building on work I had done with Alex Williams. We watched people submit self-written essays to an essay-writing contest. I spent the summer trying to help judges discern which essays were compelling and compared them to other pieces of writing to gauge how much enthusiasm one was displaying.
The minute people told me they had good willpower, we could change the way they wrote their essays by making them a little longer. Although I do hope this paves the way for a Nobel Prize in willpower, I was so captivated with learning how to do the impossible that I failed to factor in the psychological and emotional elements involved.