Creative Flow

Thinking Outloud: Musings and reflections from our adventures in succession and leadership coaching.

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Creative Flow

Imagine a river flowing just above your head. It's lush and ever flowing. This is what I call the Creative Flow - the source of our imagination and creativity. We all experience moments when we are in the Creative Flow, but it can be elusive. When we are sourcing this flow, it is an incredible experience - ideas, energy, imagination, creativity - is in abundance. There is no struggle - we are full of curiosity, and willingness to explore the moment RIGHT NOW without judgement to discover what is on the other side of our ideas.

For me, creativity and flow are one and the same. The state of “creative flow” is the active give-and-take with one’s own creative process, and especially when creating or being with others. It is a synergistic experience where we cease to be separate individuals and step into a shared experience to create something together without controlling the direction. Different from brainstorming or idea building on the big board, Creative Flow happens when we surrender ideas fueled by ego or the need to be recognized for being funny/smart/inventive/right/ (fill in your word) and step into BEING in the process of creation, discovering what is next by DOING something without a fixed path towards reaching an outcome. Creative Flow is an action that cannot be forced, or made to happen by command, but counter-intuitively becomes present when we stop trying to solve the problem and surrender ego, to become a part of something bigger than we could imagine. Where discovery happens, all ideas are considered (the "yes, and" effect) and real “out of the box” thinking/learning/solutions occur.

When my husband and I were performing improvisational comedy together, what made us unique was our Creative Flow - it also helped us fall hopelessly in love with each other. The audience could not tell who was leading or following - it was as if we were inside each other's minds as the ideas streamed back and forth with lightning speed. Even we couldn't tell who was leading! It was like tapping into each other's stream of consciousness - there was no time for judgement, indecision, or debate. We were in the moment and creating something magical in that instant. It was intimate, exhilarating, full of surprises and so much fun! We were playing with childlike abandon, including the audience in our sandbox, using everything that was thrown at us like shiny new toys. People rarely believed we were improvising, until they saw us perform a second time and everything was completely different.

Creative Flow is the foundational element in successful performing arts ensembles. What would it be like to experience Creative Flow in the workplace? Twenty-five years ago, I imagined the possibilities of business teams working with ease and flow, exchanging ideas fluidly, synergistically, and without ego. This vision fueled my life’s work, focus and passion and it’s led me to work with all kinds of people: teams, organizations, family businesses and leaders - specifically because they were navigating change. And in this period where the very paradigm of how people work together is being reinvented, we all can benefit from accessing that ever flowing river floating just outside our consciousness called the Creative Flow.

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