Seeing the big picture – the creativity hack you often overlook…

Growing up, I lived in the countryside – which meant I was used to country roads and the pace that life moved at.

So, when I started driving, I was a little nervous about motorways and dual carriageways.

“Why?” asked my driving instructor, “if anything it’s easier. The more you can see of the road ahead, the more you can be ready for”.

And he’s right.

It’s like that with creativity.

The more you can see of the big picture, the easier it is to plan.

But I go one step further than this, I take it literally.

So I bought an A3 drawing pad. A nice big space for me to draft out and plan what I do.

It works.

Too often I see people writing on their phones.

Sure that’s okay for a Tinder message or a Whatsapp. But if you’re crafting sentences, writing paragraphs it’s better to see the whole page.

The bigger picture. It’s good.

How kitchen roll taught me that creativity can be simple

Some 20 years ago, my first school was one of many schools that were entered into a competition.

It was run by one of the big kitchen roll companies – I can’t recall which one. 

Basically they wanted us to do a special design for some limited edition packaging.

Yep, instead of using a design firm they decided to skip costs and get eager kids to do it…

Being a creative nipper I was excited by this. But, back then, creativity to me meant that you had to try and be as far outside of the box as possible.

I didn’t think practically or subtly. And so my design looked like it had been put together by Andy Warhol after an acid flashback.

In terms of the client brief and brand it didn’t fit.

And, of course, I didn’t win.

But my best friend did. He had come up with a fairly simplistic (yet polished) design and they lapped it up.

I jealously watched as he won a shedload of plaudits and even nailed a newspaper interview.

Nowadays he channels that skill as a design engineer.

And, after learning a lot, I eventually got a break as a copywriter.

There’s a lesson here for us all. Creativity is about connecting things and sticking true to what your client or your audience will respond to and want.

There’s no such thing as simple. Not really, anyway. It’s just about having a good idea. Whether that idea is plain and conservative, or rainbow coloured – it’s about what fits.

That’s what creativity is. It can be simple. It just needs to fit the purpose.

(Photo credit: Daily Express)

Genghis Khan on creative leadership….

There are thousands upon thousands of articles out there on leadership. All full of ‘important’ yet often conflicting information.

But one thing that most of them agree on is that, to make it in business, you need have a ruthless streak.

There are leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

And then there are leaders like Genghis Khan. If you’ve not heard of him, then you must have skipped history at school.

He lived from 1162 to 1227 (which was old for those times) and is most notably known for being the founder of the Mongol empire. He was a ferocious, fearless leader who wasn’t afraid to massacre whole tribes to get where he wanted.

genghis

Sure, not exactly a nice guy…but damned successful at getting what he wanted.

As an aside – I always find it interesting that, even though he’s one of the biggest historical figures ever, there’s no official record of what he looked like. Some reports say he was tall and thin, some say short and stout…while others claim that he was (unusually for the Mongol empire) a ginger chap.

But, as ruthless as he was, Genghis Khan had an eye for talent. Which is something any leader…creative or otherwise…should have. And, he was reasonable enough to put this eye for talent ahead of his own personal feelings.

Let me tell you a story that highlights this well…

It was 1201 and Genghis was embroiled in a battle with the nearby Taijut tribe. It was a bloody, nasty business and he was lucky to win.

As the best leaders do Genghis led by example and rode into battle along with his troops and lieutenants.

He was a skilled warrior, but in this particular battle he nearly fucked up.

An arrow slammed into his horse and he was thrown off, he hit the ground and narrowly missed being slayed by the Taijut.

As Genghis Khan’s fortune would have it the Mongol tribe won.

Genghis_Khan_and_three_of_his_four_sons

He was furious that he’d come so close to death, and afterwards he addressed the Taijut prisoners and asked them who it was who fired the offending the arrow. Of course, as he did so, he didn’t expect for a minute that the culprit would come forward.

But he did.

A Taijut archer stepped forward and claimed responsibility.

Khan’s initial reaction was to kill the man where he stood. But then, he thought better of it. It was an incredible shot to hit his horse from such a distance…the archer must have been talented.

So, stirred by the archer’s boldness and in awe of his talent, Genghis Khan offered him a job.

He went on to become one of the Mongol’s most esteemed field commanders.

So there we have it. A lesson from history. Don’t let personal feelings get in the way of admiring and recruiting talent. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you at first, doesn’t mean that you can’t reach them eventually.

…don’t you just love loose metaphors?

As a side-note, Genghis Khan created one of the world’s first ever postal systems – so he was definitely more than just a barbarian!

Calvin Harris

The trouble with making music as a job is that I have no outside interests. All I can do to wind down is go to sleep.” – Calvin Harris

He makes a good point.

For many people who aren’t creatives in their day job, their creative discipline is usually just a hobby or a side-job.

Often they do it because it’s very therapeutic.

And it begs the question…how would you manage your down time if your hobby becomes your day job?

I guess for some of us that’s the dream…