Creativity is the universal trait that spans through every discipline. Without innovators, our art would be depraved and our food would be bland. We would never know how to start fire, or build an electric car, let alone shoot one into space. While knowledge is the passing on of information over generations, creativity is the pairing of said information with a vision.

Okay, we get it. Creative people are important. So how do we work with them?

As a songwriter and blogger, I’ve had the chance to be a part of many thoughtful conversations. In September 2017, I co-organized an event entitled, “The Creative Path” where I interviewed three songwriters from Prince Edward Island about creativity in music. I helped transform an abandoned office building into a pop-up music venue with seats, plants, lamps, scent diffusers, and of course, a bar. The artists performed songs in front of an intimate audience and I followed up with questions about their inspiration. What I learned is that you must show up ready to both inspire and be inspired. If you can’t see the light, you must be the light. A great deal of inspiration comes from seeing others fulfill their soul’s purpose. Look to those excelling in your field and learn from them. Learn from those making strides in other fields. The greatest teachers are those who present ideas from the heart with clarity and meaning. They’re the innovators who know the game and know what rules can be broken.

I’ve found it helpful to break the rules within my routine. That being said, I still have a routine. A routine isn’t synonymous with expectation, in that you can schedule time to create and have no idea what will come. In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says, “Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when the inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.’” In his cheeky response, Maugham sums up perfectly the structure of a professional writer. There is a schedule to follow in regards to efficient, lifelong creation. That being said—don’t bother breaking the rules if you haven’t even shown up to play the game.

Not All Creative Spaces are Created Equal.

If you’re a leader of a team, understand the different temperaments of your people and encourage them accordingly. For some, it’s a caffeinated group-brainstorming session that gets the ideas flowing, for others it’s walking through the forest without a soul in sight. In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain says, “Open-plan offices have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory. They’re associated with high staff turnover. They make people sick, hostile, unmotivated, and insecure.” If you’re dealing with a group, chances are one third of those people are introverted. Open-plan offices will literally suck the life out of them. It can be hard to hear the faint voice through the noise, but remember that the loudest ideas aren’t always the strongest ones.

Creative people see the bigger picture.

While their temperament suggests a high level of openness, they often need some direction to create someone else’s vision. That’s not to say that if you work with a creative person you are at the mercy of his undisciplined schedule. Set agreed upon deadlines for tasks. Perhaps you implement a process to measure expectations so creators can ask for extensions before the initial deadline. This relationship built on trust and respect allows for a clear mind and the freedom to explore new ideas. Remember to communicate!

Just like the ocean water meeting land, creativity comes in waves. It’s the day-to-day magic that cures disease, builds roads, and makes your mother cry when she hears her wedding song on her twenty-fifth anniversary. The act of bringing forth something from nothing is an incredible privilege that requires both discipline and openness. We owe a lot of our success to the people we surround ourselves with. Let in the good, and filter out the bad. As Mick Jagger says, “Hey you, get off of my cloud!” Follow the tickle in your soul, and let the work out. That’s your purpose—that’s value.

And remember, whether you’re a creative person or you’re working with one:

Key Takeaways

  • Show up ready to both inspire and be inspired
  • Break the rules within your routine
  • Understand the different temperaments of people

and of course…

  • Communicate!

Struggling to manage more than just the creative process in your agency?

Struggling to manage more than just the creative process in your agency? Check out our Agency Scaling Playbook below. It’s packed with frameworks to help you get things under control and set up your agency for sustainability and growth.

Max Koughan

Max Koughan

Contributor - Singer, Songwriter, Blogger, Creative.

After leaving the navy in 2014, Lawrence Maxwell took his sea legs and his tales from port back home to Prince Edward Island. Known for his “hippie country” songwriting style, Lawrence landed a gig at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in 2016 and later released his debut album, “Not Your Outlaw” in June 2018. In January 2017, he started a blog, “Peace of the Shore,” dedicated to sea stories, poetry, philosophy, and personal reflection. In just over a year, the blog has been read by thousands of people spanning from 34 different countries. Follow him on Instagram: @themaxwraptor

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