Creative Leaders!

Follow your dreams, silhouette of man at sunset

In an increasingly volatile and complex world, where there is no one specific roadmap for success, what we need today are creative leaders; leaders who can create and foster an environment to draw out the individual potential of each member of the team.

Over my last two decades of work with global corporations, I have noticed there are certain key qualities which define creative leaders.

Let’s look at some of their qualities:

1. They are authentic – Creative leaders think and act from a place of truth within themselves. Creativity is borne out of authenticity, the courage to explore fresh ideas to create new meaning and value, and do away with what no longer serves us, at the risk of disapproval or censure. Creative leaders consider all viewpoints, but are able to remain independent of the good or bad opinions of others, relying on their inner wisdom to guide their effort.

2. They draw connections – Steve Jobs defined creativity as simply connecting things. He said, “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” Nothing in this world is original; rather it is built on the foundation of preceding discoveries or inventions.

3. They value quiet time alone – Big ideas usually make their way when the mind is quiet and creative leader’s value quiet time in their daily life. Many of them are avid meditators or practice other mindful practices like Tai Chi, Qigong to calm their inner chatter and allow ideas and solutions to emerge.

4. They are problem solvers – While average folk discusses the impact of problems, creative leaders are programmed to look for solutions. For them, a problem is just another opportunity for creating more value and self-development.

5. They are inspired by the love of what they do – Creative leaders constantly seek purpose and meaning in their work. They are passionate about their vision, and this energy inspires others to follow suit. They understand the importance of showing everyone the big picture and continuing to foster a positive environment in which others can draw their own sense of purpose and contribute their unique bit to the solution.

6. They take time to nurture their creative space – While creative ideas are touted to pop up when least expected, it often takes months and years of relentless work to enable the proverbial flash. Creative leaders actively seek out experiences, interactions, and experimentation to spark creative thinking.

7. They challenge the status quo – Robert Kennedy once said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Creative leaders allow themselves to be curious and open. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it means upsetting a few agendas or vested interest groups. They ask questions, challenge assumptions, imagine unseen possibilities and are willing to dig deeper to overcome the obstacles laid down by those who favor the status quo. As Steve Jobs put it, we can make a dent in the world we live in.

8. They live in the Now – Creative leaders are dreamers with robust imagination but with their feet planted firmly in the ground. So while they have exciting ideas for the future, they possess a sharp awareness of their present environment coupled with adaptability and flexibility. Hence they are comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty and thrive on change.

9. They believe that creativity is a state of mind – Creative leaders believe that anyone and everyone is creative. The only thing needed is self-confidence and the right outlet for expression.

Disruption is the Norm

Little girl is reading her book while wearing glasses, isolated over white

Life has a way of disrupting the best-laid plans, and sooner or later you are flung into the whirlwind of change. More so in the current context, where disruption and uncertainty are the norms.

Our age is marked by accelerated human evolution. New patterns are very rapidly replacing old ones. Today, no one remains immune to change. According to a recent Forbes article on ‘Is Strategy dead’ by Rick Smith, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has dropped from more than 80 years to fewer than 15 in the last century. Consumer behaviour has undergone unprecedented change. Babies today leave the hospital with a blanket, an iPhone, a Facebook page, and a Twitter handle.

While the industrial revolution was all about the business-to-people narrative, the dawn of the social media era has now shifted the focus to people-to-people – with communities, collaboration, and co-creation being the new buzzwords.

According to a report on the evolution of technology and the human race by Karl Fisch, Scott Mcleod and Jeff Brenman, the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004.

Today you have to continuously learn and relearn in order to remain relevant. The long-term strategy has given way to “just-in-time” decision-making.

On the other hand, this change has also created a whole new platform for the human capability to flourish. For confident and resourceful people, change spells opportunity. They’re willing to venture out of their comfort zones to embrace change and use it to their advantage.

Change is always exciting when you choose it yourself. As a choice, it’s not an unwelcome threat, but a welcome adventure. In this way, every new minute becomes an opportunity to work; to get closer to our purpose, or to learn from the experience.

Chosen change bolsters your resilience. It enables you to adjust to new circumstances and bounce back from adverse developments.

Change, if viewed as a positive step toward growth and opportunity, can invite balance and infuse vitality, aliveness, and zest in your life. But change, if mishandled, can result in an imbalance.

So how do we leverage all this movement, and use this change to our advantage rather than allowing it to sweep away all that is valuable to us?

Here are some things you can do to respond constructively to change:

• Become adaptable. Develop and put in practice an ever-ready and continually evolving repository of life and work skills to adapt and thrive in change

• Embrace change.  View it as an opportunity for growth.

• Be willing to take risks.

• Anticipate change and prepare for it. For example, keep a lookout for upcoming market trends and take courses or attend classes to prepare for the forthcoming developments.

• Use major crises to create breakthroughs.

• Engage in lifelong learning to stay abreast of change.

• Keep your principles intact despite the change. They are your anchor.

• Use change to break bad patterns or unproductive habits.

• Grow from your experiences of changing circumstances. Write about your experiences to ingrain and track your learning.

• Realize the rewards that come with change and celebrate them.

• Connect with your spirituality. Meditate daily to remain centered and grounded amidst the chaos of change.

This is the time to plunge into the vortex of change that we anticipate, create, leverage and thrive on.

Inviting Simplicity!

simpleWhen we are handling complicated relationships, complex projects, or big
challenges, we feel important because the ability to handle complexity is often
mistaken for the capacity to do more or be more. But in reality it’s more difficult to be simple than complex; because making things simple requires you to get into the real depth of things to eliminate all that is inessential. Truth and beauty are always revealed in simplicity.

Here are a few suggestions to disrupt our daily schedules to make things simple
and live the life we aspire to live.

1. Be Present – Being totally present to the moment puts you in the zone for great results. Give your 100% attention to whatever you are doing at that moment. When you are sitting with your spouse, be with your spouse. Don’t think of the unfinished report and vice versa. When completing a work project, eliminate all sources of interruption including social media or meetings.

2. Create a stop-doing list – Challenge every activity and object occupying your life. Ask yourself “why am I doing this and what could be done to eliminate the need for it?” Reward people who bring up ideas for your “Stop Doing” list. It will help both you and others to create more valuable time.

3. Organize around a tight set of priorities – Every night before you go to sleep, outline the three most important activities for the next day and begin your day with them. Do not start any other thing till you have completed them. Don’t do the easy stuff simply because it’s there.

4. Measure your time – If we do not measure time, we do not know how we lose it.

5. Stop over-consumption – This includes consuming excess food, shopping for what you don’t need, watching too much television, and spending too much time on social media. This simplification will substantially reduce clutter in your head and expand your mind space, carving out more productive time for creative ideas.

6. Spend time with people you love, admire and mentor – The pressures of life and work can often send us in unproductive directions. So ensure you spend time daily with these VIPs. Find time to do things with them, talk to them, and share your experiences. Sharing and receiving love is not only a great source of rejuvenation but also a great tool to realign with what and who creates meaning in your life.

7. Brevity aids simplicity – Whether it’s your communication or your style of accessorizing or completing a presentation, less is always more. Brevity forces you to clarify your thoughts and make your communication powerful.

8. Take care of your Balance – Your inner life influences your outer life and the outcomes you create. Every morning, spend some time on meditation, exercise and reading something inspiring. A daily practice of this habit acts as a grounding tool, aligning your life purpose with your day and pooling your attention and resources on all that matters to you.

Aim for simplicity in all you do and watch your performance soar.

Brilliant Idea!

Storm Clouds Saskatchewan rainbow in prairie Canada

What do you do when a brilliant idea dawns?

Ideas come from a higher source, and acting upon them right away are expressions of gratitude for those blessings.  By procrastinating we lose momentum and the intensity of the idea wanes.

If an idea gets you up in the middle of the night, act on it right away by attempting to implement your thoughts. It happened to me once, and by early morning I was able to put together material which I had been struggling to complete for the past few years! I could not believe how clear everything appeared.

I learned that we have to act upon a trigger right away – whether it is midnight or midday. If you are busy doing other things that are not priorities, put them aside and attend to implementing the new ideas.

While you are in the swing of things, address the following questions as well:

– What problem is your brilliant idea trying to solve?
– What ideal goal is your idea trying to achieve?
– What obstacles can you anticipate in implementing the idea?
– What different resources are going to be required to implement the idea effectively?
– What number of steps and different activities are required to implement the idea?
– Who in your team will help do what, and by when?

The above questions will probably not be addressed fully in one sitting and may require others’ input, but you can get a great start on them by posing them while in conception stage of your magical idea.

Watch me Create!

Abstract watercolor painted background

Some time ago, I received a wonderful tour of Wild Wadi Waterpark in Dubai by the general manager, Chris Perry. After the tour, I sat in the coffee shop at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel where I recall being immersed in an awesome setting of elegance, class, and beauty.

I thought to myself, “Wow, someone actually conceived the Wild Wadi Waterpark to sit perfectly between two world-class hotels, the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach hotel.”

It was clear proof that human beings have the capacity to create, innovate and make something magical out of nothing.

Ask yourself: “What am I going to create?” You may argue that you do not have the wherewithal or riches of the Sheikhs of Dubai. True and False. True, you may not have the same riches as the Sheikhs. But, very few people do. False, because you have an enormous untapped potential. You have a brain more powerful than any computer, and eyes, though so very small, can see the stars – trillions of miles away.

So, why are you playing small? Playing small does not help anyone. Hiding is the illusion of modesty for indeed it is a complex that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s go out and announce to the world, from the very recesses of our soul, that I am turning a new page; a new chapter in my life. With every breath say, watch me create – create something as magical as the Wild Wadi waterpark that so eloquently sits between two world-class hotels. Why not?!

Begin Fresh!

orange as the background. macro

You have great innate capacities.

As time goes by, you become conditioned by others – peers, environment, family members (parents/spouse/siblings). People begin to tell you what you can and cannot do. They also tell you what you are like and what you lack. Unfortunately, you subconsciously begin to believe them. You begin to doubt yourself, your abilities and your instincts. You lose your confidence and start becoming dependent on others’ opinions. Your innate talents have been buried. For too long this unhealthy situation has been present.

Start now with your new outlook and surround yourself with uplifting and positive people.
Take charge of your life and regain your abilities which you have allowed to evaporate. No one else will do that for you. Start by paying more attention to your inner voice. When you begin to believe in yourself, it will reflect in your demeanor, in your eyes, in the echo of your voice. No one else will believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

Begin fresh today – for today is the most important day of your life!

Choose Wisely!

Hand moving a knight chess piece on wooden chessboard

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” ~ George Eliot

If you find things around you are not going as well as you would like, you have two choices. You can either complain or blame your circumstances or people in your life – your spouse, child, boss, colleague, competitor. The other wiser choice is to take charge and full responsibility for the situation.

The wiser choice would lead you to ask how you can alter the circumstances of your situation.
For example, if you are not getting optimum results from your team what are two or three things you can do to get a better outcome?

⁃       Can you organize a 90-minute brainstorming session with your core team to discuss what optimum performance looks like?
⁃       Can you set goals with your core team to focus on your core priorities for the coming 90 days?
⁃       Can you select two or three managers who report to you and ask their feedback what you do very well as their boss and what you can do better? Can you ask them what they do well and what they can do better?

By making the choice of taking full responsibility, you empower yourself to create positive change!

As you choose, so you create. Choose wisely!