I’m a big fan of the 12th century saint, St. Francis. Ever since I saw Zefirelli’s film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, I have been fascinated by this son of a merchant who lived a life of faith and conviction. To me, his life personified Grace, that elusive feeling of being one with everything. I’ve studied him, visited his home of Assisi in Umbria and I keep his prayer scotch taped to the wall next to my desk. In case you’ve not had the pleasure, here it is:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

So, how does one become an instrument of peace? In my case, it is in becoming a teacher about creativity, in helping people remember that they are created in the image of the Creator, that we all have an artist living inside of us. My (so far) three year Middle Aged Crazy project was supposed to be a book encouraging people to paint or draw or sing or learn to cook, or something. Instead, it has turned into an exercise in saying “Yes” to inspiration. I’ve found my life’s work is to help people and organizations become more creative and the route has diverted onto a road less traveled. I’ve ended up in school working towards an Organizational Management degree which will be quickly followed by enrollment in a PhD track to learn everything I can about the work of Carl Jung, Depth Psychology and where all this creativity stuff comes from. As they said in The Blues Brothers, “I’m on a mission from God.”

This creativity thing is a pretty big topic, its hard to get your arms around it. It includes such diverse concepts as filling out company expense reports, tagging subway trains, financing on Wall Street and sitting down to strum an acoustic guitar. The word “creativity” is kind of a catch all that generally means someone thought of something differently than we did. We can’t strictly apply it to any one discipline, artists claim it, but so do scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs. Everyone likes to think of themselves as creative, although few of us live the life of an artist. I’ve found that going through life with the attitude of a creative person makes everything more interesting.

So: studying this creativity thing has been a lot like studying life,its complicated. It involves trust, faith and no small amount of trouble.  You can’t help but find a spiritual component to creativity, exactly where does inspiration come from? Creativity is more than imagination, as the noted educator Sir Kenneth Robinson defines it, “Creativity is Applied Imagination.” Once you get into the application part, you separate the day dreamers from the artists. Applying imagination requires action, training, a discipline, perhaps a set of tools and expertise. It requires permission, not just from your boss or your family, it requires self permission and confidence. Creativity might be about solving problems, it might be about creating something just because it needs to be created. Once yu have created something, you might have to sell it. Or defend it.

I have my hands full on this project. To help organize my thoughts, I created this mind map.  It helps me get my arms around the concept of creativity and I am anxious to share it with you. This is Version 1.0, I’m sure it will morph as I go deeper and deeper. It might become a book (or a thesis) all by itself, I think an organization who wants to become more creative can use this mind map to find out where they are lacking.

 

I’ll keep you posted, OF COURSE, on where this road takes me and I’ll be sharing my work as I move on. After all, we are all in this together! We are seeking not to be understood, but to understand.

 

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