Last week I met with Alex Hillman, co-founder of Indy Hall, Philadelphia’s wildly successful coworking space.  It was our first meeting and we covered quite a bit of ground.  Among the (many!) points discussed was the notion that acts of creative expression require a significant degree of both self-knowledge and self-trust.  When I suggested that creative expression is paramount, Alex quickly cited his direct experience.  He wrote about a watershed experience later that day on his blog, Dangerously Awesome.

Coincidentally, the theme also arose later in the week,  as I began reading John Maeda’s recently published, ‘Redesigning Leadership‘.  In the second chapter, Maeda describes an artist’s approach in the following way:

“…A large part of what drives her confidence to move forward is her faith in her ability to course correct and improvise as she goes.” 

I find this description compelling not simply as an accurate telling of the confidence that the creative process demands, but also because it is an illustrative description of an undercurrent that is common to leadership, as well.  Problem solving requires many stages, but each stage benefits from the manner of fierce self-trust that guides the artistic impulse.  In order to carry out the work, an artist must be capable of self-directed action and also possess the ability to envision what can not be directly observed.  These two capacities are integral to effective leadership, regardless of the domain.

In a previous post I sung the praises of creative expression, because I believe it to be one critical element of problem-solving.
I champion creative expression because without this important action step, the opportunity to explore an alternative solution remains unfulfilled.

My professional experience, along with my personal creative practice, have provided me a front row seat from which to observe the creative process in great detail.  In addition, I harnessed my (protracted!) undergrad experience at Penn to formally examine the psychology of creativity and the role of the cultural sector in our culture.  What these collective experiences have demonstrated to me over and over is this: there are lessons and skills learned in the making of art that have direct and dramatic application outside the arts.  These lessons are not small and incidental; they are, in fact, enormous and significant.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  If you want to learn about the lessons of artmaking you will find them written about in exquisite detail here, here, here, here and here.  However, the most direct way to understand the transformational power of artmaking is to experience it in the form of your own creative practice.

Dive in…experiment…because in doing so you will also be empowering yourself to lead through creative expression.

© 2011 Kira Campo

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