On creativity

Creativity isn’t a solo job. Think about it—writers, painters, sculptors, chefs, card makers, weavers, and craft makers all fall into the small business category. They’re all creatives at heart, and by job, trying to earn through their craft. Regardless of how alone they are in making their craft, when it comes to doing anything with what they make—refining it, marketing it, distributing it, and selling it, they need partnerships. They need others who can think in the same creative manner so they can do their part in the process.

And so, while a writer creates the first draft of their next greatest creative piece, an editor or a proof reader guides them through to the next draft. And during that process, they brainstorm, discuss variations, consider alternative titles, and work together to create the perfect piece of copy. Writing a book is no solo job.

Once the piece takes shape comes marketing and distribution. Think of a painting for example—the artist is proud of it, their teacher and mentor is satisfied, and they even got a few ideas and compliments from their contemporaries. The next step would be to promote it so more people can appreciate it. That’s no solo job either.

As for the marketing, distribution, and sales teams, they can’t work in traditional methods. If they’re to market, distribute, and sell a creative piece of work, they need to conceptualise newer, innovative ways to do their job. That takes a lot of creativity. A bottle of Coca Cola is just an unhealthy beverage. But by relating it to happiness, to sharing, to being wanted and accepted, the company’s writers, designers, marketers, and distributors all contributed their share of creativity. And they did it together.

Without the designer and copywriter collaborating with each other, a print ad wouldn’t have perfect alignment.

Without the copywriter and editorial teams collaborating, the ad copy wouldn’t ring as great as it could.

Without the sales and marketing teams collaborating, Coca Cola wouldn’t exist today as we know it.

Creativity isn’t a solo job. A multi-national conglomerate or an indie seller, to create anything worthwhile, everyone needs another’s streak of creativity.

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Power to the right people

With great power comes great responsibility.

Whoever says Spiderman is for kids doesn’t know the reality of the world. As far as I can tell, that quote from the Marvel world of fantasy is one of the truest statements about our society.

When someone has power over others, it’s their responsibility to exercise that power in a way that benefits all parties. But the biggest hurdle in leadership is that there’re two kinds of people in power.

One, the vain kind that craves the spotlight, the extra commissions, and bargains that come with being a leader.

They have no respect for their team, they abuse their authority for personal gains, and they revel in self-absorbed obsession. Such leaders are worms in the organisation—they nibble their way through cracks, widen communication gaps, isolate people, and think themselves an impeccable leader.

The second is kinder. Society thrusts power onto them, and they have no choice but to accept. Apart from feeling it’s unwarranted, they also get scared. It’s only natural. However, that’s what makes them good leaders. Regardless of the few who fail unable to handle the demands of the role, great leaders rise to the occasion to do what they must.

Situational leaders who struggle at first to delegate, inspire, and guide others, will not long afterwards learn by doing, evolve through mistakes, and shine through the darkness.

It won’t happen overnight, though. As with any good thing, leaders need time to achieve their potential. No one can step out of college and walk into a managerial role in an organisation. Those who do that, those who think a fancy degree is all it takes to be a successful leader, in turn become snobbish, detestable, namesake leaders who no one looks up to.

A leader who climbs their way through the organisation—from being a team player, to becoming a mentor, and then becoming a leader—will understand the nuances of a leadership role and the importance of humility. That makes them all-serving decision makers who prioritise the greater good before anything else.

And that’s a powerful leader.

Flowing

Go with the flow, people say.

As if it’s so easy. As if it comes to us all without trying. But to get to that point of going with the flow, of making it look like it’s no brainer to be in the moment and letting things run their course, we need to make constant and conscious effort.

It’s anything but easy.

When I read a book or cook for myself, write something I care about or just walk down a nice road, I feel my inner self at peace. My mind and body will be calm and I continue. I flip the page and read another chapter, sprinkle some extra cilantro on my food, make my writing a little better, and take another turn instead of turning back. When my inner self is at peace, I let myself go, I feel myself going with the flow—even without trying too hard.

However, to find the inner peace within me, I had to discover what made me happy. I had to understand myself, try different things, persevere, and experiment every day with an open mind so that I know what makes me tick. I realise how contrary that sounds—who else would know our preferences better than us, right? Well, I think even we won’t know ourselves unless we test ourselves.

This testing process is trying. I often get stuck trying to understand what works for me. For example, when I’m under pressure to finish a certain task within a deadline, I can do it well. At the same time, though, when I have to finish a task within unreasonable time frames, it stresses me out. I won’t be able to do it as well as I could and that blocks my flow—my inner peace. And the only way I know this is because I’ve been there. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was helpful. So in a way, through consistent trial and error, we can understand ourselves better and do more of what makes us happy.

And that’s how we go with the flow.

Thanks for the muse, Kumud Ajmani and #SpiritChat.

Of innocence

A baby born the day before. A seasonal mango still unbitten. A young mind un-penetrated by the realities of life, a butterfly still in its cocoon, and a pre-teen living with their parents. A lot of nice and desirable things come to mind when we think about innocence. In many ways it’s an adorable trait even.

Nevertheless, when that innocence persists over time, it becomes an inconvenience. An adult who’s unaware of society’s structures, one who’s unaccustomed to facing impromptu situations, one who’s so innocent that they can’t even navigate the constructs of everyday life ends up a liability.

An unadulterated younger sibling at home might be fun, but when the same behaviour lingers at work, it holds everyone back. Think about this: an innocent child doesn’t know how to behave in certain circumstances. The same in an adult would mean that they’ve made no effort whatsoever to train themselves. Sure, laughing and joking around at an office party is fine, but not knowing why it’s inappropriate at a meeting with the board of directors isn’t charming. It’s inexcusable behaviour, and we can’t always shrug it off.

Such a person needs precise directions every time. They need someone to watch over them, tell them what to do and how, introduce them to people, spoon-feed guidelines, and hold their hand as they walk across the cubicle to talk to a senior team member.

That’s extreme innocence. It’s dependence. Not only is that annoying to others, but it also affects the individual’s growth. Unexposed to the actualities of life, they’ll live in their own little haven of imagination, believing only in what they want to believe, in a blissful manner, far too unassuming about how to get anything done.

It cripples them when they have to take up responsibility and prove themselves capable. If they’re unable to take on the challenge it affects their moral and mental health as well. They become the underdog, the weakling, the goat in a pack of wolves.

In a world that insists on independence, denying basic knowledge and exposure to a child places them at a disadvantage. It’s not how we should raise the future generation.

——

How do you interpret innocence? Good or bad?

The next stage in life

When we say graduation, we think formal education. Although that belief is flawed, part of it rings true: graduation is education. To that, I’d add, graduation is evolution through education.

Let’s break that down.

When we graduate from high school or college, we move from one stage of our life to another, better one. And we expect this new age in our life to offer a richer, and a more complete lifestyle. Because graduation is a promise that the future is open and it’s upon us to forge it as we wish.

The same is true of the mind. Regardless of our physical age, our mind undergoes multiple trajectories in its pursuit of growth. While some adults behave childish and amateurish, some youngsters embrace a far more responsible stance. The reason is that their minds have graduated—they’ve learnt from their experiences in life, assumed strong opinions, and have incorporated their learnings in their everyday activities.

That’s the meaning of true graduation—internalising the lessons from every good and bad incident and using that knowledge for our own and others’ improvement.

However, it’s near impossible to walk towards graduation alone. Whether formal education or the mind, taking the next step requires help at every step. Teachers, well-wishers, friends, and kin all play vital roles in the graduation of a person’s mind. Random conversations, everyday incidents, and the occasional family gathering are breeding grounds for support and encouragement.

As for teachers, throughout their careers they guide students from nothingness to proper adults, sprinkling thought beads all the time. I’ve had a few teachers like that. I didn’t know it then, but years later now, I realise I’d be nowhere if it hadn’t been for them. How I think and approach a situation, and how I handle pleasantness and unpleasantness depend on my teachers and the way they handled their problems. If teachers are the path, parents are the carpet that paves the way for graduation of the mind.

As humans, we observe people who influence us. We derive ideas from them and they drive us to think further and aim beyond boundaries. That’s the progression we should strive for—becoming the better version of who we are.

And that’s worth more than a piece of rolled up paper.