In May I was invited to lead a workshop with a small but energetic group of eighth grade students.  As I was setting up the supplies, one young girl asked,

“We’re gonna learn about creativity?”

to which I replied,

“You will teach ME”…and they did!

That afternoon was filled with memorable moments. Lots of discussion took place as the students worked, and it was abundantly clear that these fifteen girls had much to express. Most offered opinions about creativity which were anything but juvenile. After a quick two hours together the materials were put away and we parted ways. A few weeks later I received a thank you note from the students and their teacher. Although I made every effort to express my gratitude, frankly, there is no way to thank them for what they demonstrated that day. Below are some highlights…

1. Passion and creativity are bedfellows. Creative outcomes are more likely to occur when we are inspired and motivated to explore a  problem or idea from multiple angles.  Motivation, curiosity and passion are integral to a creative thinking mindset.

2. Persistence is required. While some creative outcomes can be produced quickly, many simply cannot. The more attention we are willing to devote to exploring the problem space (i.e. problem finding),  the more likely we are to develop a solution that is both novel and able to be executed well.

3. Creativity can be uncomfortable. Most of the time, in our results-driven culture, we are inclined to focus on a goal or an outcome. Often when we begin the process of creating something new, we are confronted with a reality that we don’t like. Learning to acknowledge and accept creative tension as it arises is a necessary part of the creative process; finding productive ways to push through a work-in-progress is demanding but necessary.

Many other lessons were apparent that day, but the most significant lesson was one of courage:  Each student took her rightful place at the front of the classroom to discuss her work. Their eyes were met by the eyes of other students, focused intently, prepared to listen to the narrative. Near the end a student stood and confessed that she wasn’t entirely pleased with how her idea was executed. Her strength in that moment was palpable;  she had strayed from what her peers expected to hear, by bravely admitting dissatisfaction with her own work. And in that moment of vulnerability, she modeled the courage that creativity demands.

© 2013