Lead a vivid life that does good

Category: Be Creative (Page 1 of 2)

To be Human

To be human is to step up and play your partTo be Human is…

To be an adventurer.

To embrace failure.

To be authentic.

To be messed up.

To seek connection.

To stand up for injustice.

To love regardless.

To say sorry.

To be unique.

To have faith.

To be human is to step up.

And play your part.

Could you fail 39 times?

Would you give up on the 39th AttemptI learnt recently that WD-40 stands for “Water Displacement 40”. The 40 means it was his 40th attempt at developing the product.

The  inventor Norm Larsen had tried 39 times to find a way to displace water to stop rusting in the aerospace industry.

When he finally succeeded on his 40th attempt he created a product that has far more uses that just the problem he was seeking to solve.

WD-40 would not exist if he & his team of three had given up on their 31st attempt.

I love that each time I use this product, the name itself, will be a reminder that sometimes failure upon failure is needed before success can occur.

Stopping unintentionally

Stopping Unintentionally is the worst kind of stoppingA few weeks ago three people, over the course of a week, reached out to ask why I wasn’t blogging? One example is from a young reader who private messaged me, “I was just wondering what happened with your blogs – I really enjoyed reading them”

I looked back and saw I hadn’t blogged in almost 6 months!

How did that happen?

Did I stop because it wasn’t part of my essential intent? No… one of my goals is to have an evocative voice.

Did I stop because it was a creative burden? No… I love the creative outlet for the random thoughts I have.

Did I stop because I was too busy and had to focus on other things? Sadly No… You make time for what is important.

The truth is I stopped unintentionally. Which is the worst kind of stopping.

It wasn’t a decision.

I just stopped.

For no good reason.

Thank you to the people who asked about my blog.

The implication for me is… Start. Blogging. Again! Which is going to take discipline and habit building all over again.

The implication for you…

What have you recently stopped doing, unintentionally?

Maybe it’s time to start again!

How to create space to think

Unique physical spaces, can trigger amazing changes in how we think.As I open the door and step across the threshold, I’m struck by the sweet aroma of fresh coffee. The warmth inside contrasts the crisp air outside, as does the bustle and noise of a busy café. I glance around the café and take comfort from the fact I see no-one I know.

I slide into a booth and my mind is ready. I’ve reached my liminal space.

A space for thought and focus and creativity.

It’s not a space for a catch-up (I only ever go there alone). It’s not a space for surfing the web or being connected. It’s not even a space where I engage with anyone. It is a space for thinking through one big thing at a time. It is a space where I break down a problem and mapping out a solutions.

This space is a place for threshold thinking. Taking old thinking and crossing the threshold into something new (the word liminal means threshold, in psychology it’s where the word subliminal derives.)

The reason I call this café my liminal space, is because I use the space to both trick and trigger my brain. By only ever doing creative thought at this café, I’ve made it really easy to think there.

When I slide into the booth, unpack my notebook or surface, I’m no longer drawn to read my email, and have little desire for social media, not because of my fantastic discipline, but because I have an internal narrative for this space. I have solved big problems in this space. I have built resolve for personal disciplines in this space.

Unique physical spaces, can trigger amazing changes in how we think.

Over the years I’ve underestimated how incredibly important spaces are. Spaces, places, environments are important for setting the scene for physical, relational or mental outcomes.

Here’s some more ways we use spaces…

  • Dinner at the table: Causes our family to interact and engage more than we do on the couch watching TV.
  • Lunch at a café: Allows me to engage at a deeper personal level than I would in my office.
  • Walking meetings: Walking with people and chewing through big ideas provides for more open and reflective conversation.

And of course you can have negative spaces as well. Places where you are drawn away from who you want to be.

If you want to make some changes, sometimes you need to change your spaces.

What are your spaces? What outcomes do they drive in your life?

How to stop people thinking outside the box.

It's easier for people to think outside the box, when the box doesn’t exist.You know when you repaint a room a different colour, and the first coat of the new fresh paint doesn’t look quite as you expected. You’re pretty sure it will be OK, but until you get the rest of the paint on you won’t know.

Last week, with our annual conference looming and our strategy so fresh I wasn’t sure how it would look, I decided I needed some icons/logos for our strategy.

I wanted something different, risky and evocative that would help my team grasp these new ideas.

I wanted hip.

I wanted fresh.

So, I set up a gig on a marketing design platform, so that I could get something completely new.

And I waited the 3 days … with anticipation… excited… and when the gig finally arrived it looked exactly like something we would do 🙁 … (even had our logo in it!)

Not hip. Not evocative. Not fresh.

Not usable.

The designer had given me exactly what I asked for, but nothing like what I wanted.

And it was my fault!

In my desire to give a full brief of the work, I had included links to our website and current values. This quest to be helpful created a box. A frame in which he would work. And that frame along with his desire to please, forced his design into a small box.

That small box killed creativity.

We do this often as leaders.

Unknowingly, we over-define outcomes and rules and expectations. We frame tasks so strongly they force our team to work in boxes.

And then we wonder why people aren’t creative. Why they don’t think outside the box.

It’s easier for people to think outside the box, if the box doesn’t exist.


Two things you need to become innovative

Creative ExecutionYou have probably all worked with people at the creative extremes. At one end is the person who works really hard, executes like crazy then tells you “I’m not creative”. At the opposite end of the scale is the “ideas person” who constantly has ideas and never delivers on anything.

Leading these people can be vexing indeed. For the ‘executer’ you know they have a depth of knowledge that could dramatically improve your organisation, if only they took the time to be creative occasionally. And for the ‘ideas guy’, could they not stop talking and actually do something.

At Agoge two of our values are Execution and Be Creative. I’m realising that these two values are in constant battle with one another.

Being creative and execution are a paradox.

You can’t do both well at the same time. When you are in execution mode, work is about lists and priorities and completion. And when you are being creative the last thing you need to be thinking is to-do lists.

Creativity it turns out takes one thing… TIME.

Creativity requires that you take an extended break from executing.

Creativity requires leaders who are prepared to allow their team to stop executing so that they can be creative.

I desire for the organisations I lead to be innovative. Here is the formula:

Creativity + Execution = Innovation

As a leader this means I must be doing both and I must be constantly enabling my team to do the same.


We are all artists

My 10 year old checking out her art at the HeART Expo. She is a true artist.

Recently I was sitting in a group of maybe 200 people who were asked if they were artists, and only four people raised their hand.

I was one of the four ‘artists’ who put their hand up. Can I paint or sculpt or dance? No, not at all. Yet I am an artist, because at the core of art is creativity.

An artist creates.

And almost everyone I have ever met is creative in someway. Sure, some paint and sculpt and dance, but most creative people, most artists I meet do nothing like that. Most create in other ways like taking home photos or cooking their favourite food. Some create by making practical things from metal or wood. Others create by raising amazing kids. Some even create using spreadsheets.

In my heart of hearts I believe we are all artists. I believe we are all created to create. And when we create, we should pause for a moment to enjoy our creation. Our Art.

You create things, therefore…

You are an artist.


Creating original thoughts from stolen colourful ideas


Knowledge and creativity are spinning so fast that it’s hard to know if that latest idea I have is actually mine, or someone else’s.

Its almost as though this latest drop of an idea is merely a colourful addition, to an existing artwork.

After all, is there any such thing as an original idea? Or is that an original thought an extension of someone else’s?

I think that all of our creativity, all of our ideas, all of our experiments, are shaped by someone else.

I think that one creation builds on another. I read something and it steps me toward the next thought. Someone reads my thought and it steps them towards their next creation.

It is as though all of our creativity, the words we use, the art we form, even the devices we make, are shaped by other people.

That’s why I get annoyed when people think they aren’t creative, or worse when people feel like someone has stolen their idea.

Issue 1: To be creative you need to be learning, reading, absorbing from some place other than TV. To many people don't learn and then think they aren't creative. Wrong.

Issue 2: To many people try to protect their ideas and think they are original thought. This stops other people learning and creating something better than your idea. Dumb.


Strengths = Being Good and Passionate

strengths finder.jpg

For some unknown reason I am both cursed and blessed with a natural ability to do accounting. So much so, that some people consider it a strength.

I am blessed because when you run a business it is good to have a firm grasp on the numbers.

Yet I am cursed because I actually really hate doing accounting. Nothing sucks the passion from my veins as quickly as doing accounts.

So is accounting a strength? Just because you are good at something, does that make it something you should do?


I believe strengths, real strengths are the things that you are really good at, and really passionate about.

According to Strengths Finder 2.0 my strengths are Strategic, Ideation, Futuristic, Competition and Self Assurance. And I am actually quite good at these things, just like accounting.

When I am doing them I feel like I have hit my sweat spot. I am passionate about whatever I am applying towards. I am energised.

Your strengths are things you are passionate about and really good at.

Go find them this week.

Work on them.

Nurture them.

It will energise you.

178 | 365 Art

Day178.jpgWhen your kids are 3 they are all artists. Regardless of how recognisable their drawing is we encourage them over and over again as they mass-produce their drawings and scribbles and … art.
By 10 many kids will realise that they don’t draw as well as other kids and by the late teens, you are either an artist or your not. Most feel useless at art and stop creating.
Art is defined “the creation of beautiful or significant things” and art is more than drawings or paintings. Sadly our societies, schools and families stop encouraging our kids to be artist, the way we used to when they were 3.
This leads to less creative adults.
Consequently less beautiful or significant things are created.
[178 | 365 Art – This is a shot of Siren drawing a picture for Talia at the Rototuna School market day]

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