Is Your Creativity Cloaked By Responsibility? Sneaky Ways We Block Our Own Innovation

So often we lose our creative and playful spark under the guise of being responsible. How many of these rules and “must do’s” are self-imposed? And in what order of priority are your responsibilities? Where does your own joy lie on your to-do list?

The world needs passionate, creative, and nimble leaders. An executive without creativity will always be following someone else’s inspiration. Become the creative director of your career and your life.

How? Both Kiki Chansamone, Chief Marketing Officer of Christine haircare line and illustrator, and Jamie Douraghy, entrepreneur and coach, have said: creativity is less about becoming creative and more about not blocking your own genius.

Do you use being “responsible” as a creative block?

“I would love to play with our business model and brainstorm some new products but I have to finish my email”

“I would love to take a painting class on Saturdays but I’m too busy with errands”

“Sure dance class sounds fun, and I know it would feel great for my body, but how could I leave work at 6pm when my team needs me?”

For myself, I noticed I spent a lot of time in corporate roles trying to fit into the norms of hours with an almost martyrdom complex of work ethic. Repeatedly at home my father said “I may not be the smartest person in the room but no one will outwork me”. It can be an interesting challenge to take time for creative pursuits with such voices ringing in our ears, and with company cultures which value face time and burnout more than effective results and unique work styles.

Watch as well how sneaky responsibility can be…”I would start a blog or pinterest board, but I need to do the dishes.” I can tell when I’m working on a big project in the early stages because my house is spotless. I catch myself cleaning as a form of “productive” or acceptable procrastination, almost a girl-scout approved method of self-sabotage. It’s not just work that can block our play.

Yet innovation could be one of the most important aspects of your business, and your life, given its exponential power to create change and leapfrog old ideas and systems. We rarely make the time for fresh thinking, daydreaming, or trying something new without a set agenda or outcome.  We get addicted to the approval, financial gain, or satisfaction of what brought us success in the past. And then we plateau, stagnate, feel restless, and wonder what happened to our inherent joy.

There’s a reason tech companies put ping pong tables and video games in their offices. Google’s building in Venice even has a booth where you can virtually travel around the world (I went to Paris). But you don’t have to be a 23 year old software engineer to benefit from a little time away from the desk.

Ask yourself, to what and whom am I responsible?

Notice if your list includes yourself: your passion, your soul, your dreams, your own joy.

Make another list of what makes you happy. Sometimes simple pleasures evoke tremendous happiness. Walt Whitman at the start or end of the day makes me “sing the body electric” (to use his words). A few stanzas from Leaves of Grass and I become more vibrant, excited, dynamic, and alive. You can also take 5 minutes to color on a 4x6 notecard. Gaze at a beautiful yantra (a symbol like a mandala that evokes peace or other positive emotions). Buy yourself tulips or fresh figs. Sign up for a sculpting class.

Life is meant to be both stable and joyful, even though at times it may feel otherwise. “May Your Positions Be Steady and Sweet” is one of my favorite yoga sutras (#2.46, adapted from the translation by Rev. Carerra)

At a recent event on sustainable business in LA, participants were encouraged to write their favorite childhood toy on their name tag. Everyone laughed as they networked with one another and remembered Easy Bake Ovens, Power Rangers, tire swings and lightening bugs.

Speaking of childlike wonder, Kiki shares more about his own creative journey:

“When I was a kid, I would draw all the time. I would come up with crazy stories with art, and my father always said to me ‘there’s no future in that. You are not going to be able to feed yourself. You won’t make any money on that.’ I kept doing it. I worked really hard at trying to make art and doing the things I loved. And my brother said that’s how he knew…not only was it a skill that I was acquiring but it was talent too – I had a talent no one could take away from me. I drew for comic books as a teenager, and accomplished amazing things in post-production and visual effects. Along the way, I opened my own company, became involved with building a brand, and walked away from my art. Only recently have I come home to my drawing, and it’s made all the difference. Don’t walk away from your creative calling. Don’t force something else to be your passion when what makes you happy is there all along.” – Kiki Chansamone

Not sure your passion? Start by having a little more fun. Get some finger paints and make a mess in your living room. Dance to some old school hip hop or classic rock. Part your hair a different way. Mismatch your socks.

The world needs passionate, creative, and nimble leaders. An executive without creativity will always be following someone else’s inspiration. Become the creative director of your career and your life.

And check out our Executive Sutra tools for Innovation and Creativity – you’ll discover specific meditations, yoga poses, and breathing techniques to feel more fluid, receptive, and joyful.

Let’s Play,

Jessica