Adversity is the Teacher – Creativity is the Result

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

Yesterday was an especially productive day. I tackled something new at work, or I should say, new to this particular role. It’s work I’ve done before, just not exactly in this context. So, I had a little past experience to tap on, and a little leeway to adapt that experience for this particular application. That’s when you really feel like you’re earning your keep. It felt good.

In almost every job description I’ve ever read, the word “creativity” is in there in some form. They want you to be creative. And that begins with the resume. “Wow, this is impressive!” Yeah. And if you think that’s good, give me an hour or two and I can make it even better! Okay, I’m giving away secrets I should probably be keeping to myself. But you get the idea.

There are times in life when creativity is exactly what’s needed, and other times when it can be your worst enemy. As I write my morning posts, it’s imperative that I can apply a little creative thought. But if your job involves assembling nuclear weapons, it’s best to stick to the script. There’s no room for creativity in a job like that. Just do what you’re told and nothing more.

When we’re starting something new, we generally prefer detailed instructions. I’ve done my job, in various forms, for the past 21 years. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I can pretty much figure out anything I’m asked to do. But, starting a new job, I want a little more instruction. I know what works – I just don’t know what my employer wants to see. The two aren’t always the same.

That’s why we ask a lot of questions. The answers may not always make sense, and sometimes we’re thinking, “Seriously? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. There’s a LOT better way to get that done.” But we do what we’re told to do and save those creative suggestions for later.

And sometimes, in following those instructions, we learn a different way of getting the job done. It may not necessarily be a better way, but in certain situations it could be the only way. What would happen if you couldn’t find the right tool, or if your preferred program on the computer suddenly crashed? That’s when a combination of the boss’ way and your old way can come in handy.

We gain experience through adversity – having to figure out a situation that’s not ideal and working our way through it. And that’s where creativity is born. It’s easy to screw in lightbulbs all day. But when a bulb breaks off at the base as you’re installing it, there are no written instructions to help you get the broken base back out. You figure out a solution and move on.

Funny, one of the oldest tricks in the book on that one is to cut a raw potato in half and use it to remove the broken light bulb base. Now, how many electricians carry a raw potato in their toolbox? It was just a crime of opportunity. After several unsuccessful attempts to correct the situation, somebody saw a bag of potatoes and thought, “Hmmm …”

That’s how creativity works. Sometimes we’re able to look at something and a light goes off in our brain. Other times, we have to stumble through several failed attempts before we accidentally find something that works. But it’s not really accidental – it’s a process of elimination. It’s a methodical approach to problem-solving that we learned early in life, long before we took our first steps.

Creativity is simply the ability to put those skills to work. It’s not a section of the brain that, for one person, is bigger than it is for others. And it’s not like any one of us is more gifted than others in that regard. It’s a natural ability in each of us that some just choose to use more than others.

Instructions get us started in the right direction. They give us the basics and help form the foundation for success. But it’s creativity that lets us achieve a higher level of success. If every one of us did the same thing the same way every day, we’d all end up at the same destination. Think it might be a little crowded?

To reach a different destination, we have to do something everyone else isn’t doing. We have to go the extra mile. And more often than not, that extra mile isn’t even on the map. It’s something we find through a combination of experience, opportunity, and just putting ourselves in a position to find it. Success presents the way when we put ourselves in a position to succeed.

Creativity isn’t something that’s limited to the fortunate few. You’ve got it. Let the foundational instructions put you in a position to succeed, and then use your creativity to cross the finish line.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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