February 3, 2006

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects -- The Creative Habit

By: Jack @ 10:14 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life
By Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, Simon & Schuster, $15.00 paperback, 256 pages, January 2006, ISBN 0743235274
If you've heard of Twyla Tharp, you may be wondering why I am reviewing this book which recently came out in paperback. Tharp is a celebrated choreographer. You may know her for the stage productions of "Movin' Out" and "Singin' in the Rain". What Tharp shares in her book is universal to businesspeople, artists and everyone in between; she explains how to make creativity a habit.
Like your kindergarten teacher encouraged you, we all have creative talent locked somewhere inside. For those of us who weren't born with da Vinci's eye for art or Beethoven's musical talent, Tharp provides a method for the madness that is creativity. She believes that, "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."
She's right. Creativity is at the core of every business. While it's used at every step of the way, when faced with a new "blank page", project or whatever you dub a new venture, it can still be intimidating. Here's where the habit part comes into play. By making creativity a habit, you have something to turn to whenever you start something new.
For Tharp, this means labeling a box and putting all related resources into that box. For an executive it is to tap into his "institutional memory". He told Tharp that,
Most, if not all, of your good ideas are probably sitting somewhere in your files or are locked up in the brains of the people who have worked at your company for years. In other words, the good ideas are institutionalized. They exist and they're yours for the taking. All you've got to do is find a way to tap into them. To me, that means (a) digging through files and (b) really listening to the people who've worked there a long time. They know a lot more than anyone thinks.

Through these and other examples, Tharp demonstrates that the habit of creativity is different for each person.
As another example, there is Leonardo da Vinci, the man credited for that famous Mona Lisa smile. Here's his story,
Pope Leo X heard that Leonardo da Vinci was experimenting with the formulas for varnishes instead of executing a painting. He declared, 'This man will never do anything, for he begins thinking about the end before the beginning of his work.'
However, Leonardo understood that the better you know the nuts and bolts of your craft, the more fully you can express your talents.

She continues on entrepreneurs, "A successful entrepreneur can do everything and anything--stock the warehouse, negotiate with vendors, develop a product, design an ad campaign, close a deal, placate an unhappy customer--as well as, if not better than anyone working for him."
Whether you're an entrepreneur or an aspiring da Vinci, I highly suggest you check out this book. Use it to help you find your creative habit. Use it to make that "blank page" a little less intimidating.
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