Years ago, at the Reach Conference in Dallas, Texas, I had a conversation with Ed Young about creativity. Ed – pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, was the featured speaker at the last night of the conference, and as always was on target, innovative, and compelling. After he spoke, I came out and shared the stage for some questions and answers. I asked Ed about his “creative team.” He said the he surrounds himself with a creative team of 8-10 people – all innovative thinkers who feed him stories and illustrations.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor, public speaker, writer, or executive, the principle of the creative team is critical. Surround yourself with people who can feed into you the information you need to create. By the way – don’t be intimidated – hire people smarter than you are. That way, they force you to be better than you could have been alone.
He also talked about the “confusion principle.” When working out, his personal trainer would mix up exercises, and when Ed asked him about it, the trainer described it as “confusing the muscles.” By doing that, the muscles are forced to react differently, and as a result, expand and grow. It’s the same way with your audience. Mix it up, keep them off balance, and give them new and exciting experiences. If it’s a church congregation – get off the dreaded bulletin. If it’s employees, don’t let the workflow become boring and routine. When they don’t necessarily know what to expect, they’ll be forced to grow, expand, and live in a spirit of innovation.
Finally Ed spoke about the anger that drives much creativity. As we look at the history of great art and literature, the creators were often driven by anger. Much of that anger came from alcoholism, drugs, abuse, marriage difficulties, and more, and many artists have wrongly tried to channel that type of anger into their work. But there’s different kind of anger – the kind that fueled everyone from the Reformation’s Martin Luther to his modern day counterpart in the civil rights movement – Dr. Martin Luther King. Allow anger over injustice and evil to drive your work. Ed described it as “being angry at the things God is angry about.”
What drives you nuts? What makes you crazy? Channel your “righteous anger” into the frustration that can drive you to great creative output, and eventually make a difference in the world.
Real creativity isn’t temporary, or the occasional “great idea.” Real creativity and innovation is a lifestyle. It’s changing your perspective to live a life focused on original thinking.