Business Book Brunch: Big Magic

Written by Katrina Sax.

Big Magic Image revThe Business Book Club Brunch provides a forum for members of the network to get together and discuss a selected book over a relaxed kiwi brunch. The books selected aim to both inspire and challenge us on our journey of self-development. The Book Club has an informal, open discussion about the book which leads to a very rewarding engagement on shared thoughts and experiences.

The selected book for December was ‘Big Magic’ written by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love). The books main theme centred on “creative living beyond fear” which referenced to Elizabeth’s own thoughts and experiences around inspiration and how to harness our own creative potential. The Book Club met at Ozone to discuss their thoughts on the book and the reviews were mixed; some found the book inspiring and liked the unconventional manner in which the book was written which provoked thoughts rather than giving practical guidance, others however felt that it lacked substance.

What the book did manage to achieve however was a very engaging discussion around what creativity meant to us from both a personal and professional perspective. Some great ideas discussed on how to foster creativity in the workplace are noted below. It also highlighted that creativity is a spectrum; it is not just limited to the traditional fine arts but comes in many forms from making a Christmas card through to problem solving at work or creating a new business idea. Therefore we all have the potential to be creative.

Creativity starts with ideas that are floating around and when it has found you, it will prompt you “do you want to work with me?” We have two choices; either to accept or reject it. If we chose to accept it, we must remain committed to it otherwise as per Elizabeth’s own experience with her un-written novel, we run the risk that the idea will become tired of waiting and become someone else’s idea. It also requires resilience to bring the idea to fruition and measuring success by “your dedication to the path, not by your successes or failures.”

If we reject the idea, we need to challenge ourselves about why we’ve rejected it – is it fear of our limitations? Fear of what other people will think of us? Fear of our work not being good enough? Elizabeth highlights fear as being the underlying driver which blocks our creative potential; we need to stop caring about what other people think as “our work is never going to be perfect and will never be beyond criticism.” Perfectionism is “just a high end, haute couture version of fear” and something we need to particularly watch out for as it not only stops people from completing their work, but even worse, often stops people from beginning their work.

If we can get beyond our fear, we untrap the potential of discovering the extraordinary treasures we have within us. “Bringing those treasures to light takes work, and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking and the world is spinning and we simply do not have enough time anymore to think so small.”

So what’s stopping you?

Fostering workplace creativity

-Creativity takes time – creativity can’t be forced and needs time to develop. Teams need to be given time and space for creative ideas grow
-Whiteboard sessions – adding ideas to a whiteboard prior to a meeting allows everyone to contribute and gives introverts time to process first
-Ensure that introverts are heard – make sure everyone has air time; this can be achieved by having allocated “booster” time slots so that extroverts can get out what they have to say whilst allowing time for introverts to have their say
-Business strategy and leadership –drive for creativity needs to come from the top and be adequately funded. Embracing creativity also needs to be aligned to the core values of the organisation and be embedded into the culture
-Avoid disengaging creativity from the mother ship – some organisations are going down the path of having specific creative teams, but does this create the risk of over-engineering creativity? Creative ideas can come to anyone at any time and therefore should be encouraged throughout the organisation rather than being departmentalised
-Develop a cool working environment – Create a work space that fosters creative thinking; have chill out areas, open plan offices, time to just work on/discuss ideas, flexi hours, a place to work and play
-Foster personal ideas and growth
o create a forum where ideas can be freely expressed e.g. “cool stuff” e-mail folder
o business leaders providing support/mentoring for employees wanting to develop their own business ideas
o Having an innovation centre within the organisation that allows anyone to pitch ideas/request funding to take to market

What's the Goss?