“The one who defecates on the road will meet flies on his or her return.” – African proverb
Change is often perceived as difficult; so much so that many of us only consider it when it is absolutely necessary. All over, the perception about change is so intriguing; the moment we begin thinking about it in depth, we find ourselves confronted by all kinds of difficulties – real and unreal, known and unknown – which paralyse the strong and petrify the weak.
But it is within this same context that some individuals and groups use their ingenuity to create and make for themselves – and all of us – a better life. It is this observed attitude in our humanity that drove the ancient Greek philosopher Plato to say that “necessity is the mother of invention”. His claim was that it takes bursts of creative effort to meet our challenges head-on.
In an era when many of us have been cowed into fear by the coronavirus, there is a need to revive the creative force in us. We need to find new and innovative ways of dealing with the diverse constraints and restrictions the virus is imposing on our humanity. The emphasis is not on creativity as a source of sustainable competitive advantage in order to rip people off, but that which is aimed at benefitting individuals, businesses and communities in ways to give life a new meaning. It is time for us to be resourceful, to let our brains enter into a higher realm in order to think constructively and differently about how we live and how we can make life worthwhile.
Our present necessity should supercharge our inventiveness with a determination to make our humanity delightful. It is the means by which we can discover processes that will regenerate the way we live, and our economies. We need all our creativeness to shake ourselves out of our present status quo. And creativity is not in only some of us. We are created beings, tasked to create so that we can live well and abundantly. And so wherever you are, whether at home or at work, you have to play the role of a creator. You have to, in the words of E.B. White, “lift people up, not lower them down”. You have to help steer our humanity toward wonderfulness and away from cynicism and meaninglessness.
Creativity is the extraordinary that happens in life every day. It is that which gladdens the heart to make us smile at each other, even if it is only for a moment. It makes us remember how we can live and who we are capable of being to one another. More often than not, it is the pursuit of delightful convenience that begets the seeds of ground-breaking innovations. We know our happiness is related to our fun activities. So the more we desire to enjoy life, the greater our drive to find solutions around our challenges.
As Steven Johnson, author of ‘Everything Bad is Good for You’ puts it: “Our seemingly trivial, seemingly frivolous pastimes have actually led to a disproportionate number of world-changing events and ideas, political upheavals, or technological and scientific breakthroughs”. Too many of us look at leisure as a waste of time. Well, the opposite is true. The more leisure we desire, the more we are willing to work to ensure we have it – and subsequently the boost it gives our economy.
How do we tap into our creativity? Many of us lead double lives. We have the norms we been taught to follow, the accepted lifestyles which are the ones we observe in the people around us. But deep down, we know we are capable of doing things differently; only we never take the step because we are always escaping, running away from ourselves, from our creativity lest society rejects us.
It is this secret and passionate part of us that our humanity needs in this needful time. It is a choice, and always will be. But it is a choice that is as necessary as the necessity that has befallen our humanity. Instead of looking at the dark side of being rejected, look at the sunny side – which is that in lifting yourself out of the ordinary, you also lift many others up.
Creativity is a hope-giving force. That is why in every necessity it becomes our blessing. It is both a constructive and destructive process that leaves a mark on us and give us a sense of agency. In the process of creating, we sometimes have to terminate the ‘damaged and damaging systems’ in existence and follow this up with construction.
This is because creativity has to do with our “capacity to imagine something new and better; and the willingness to exert ourselves toward building it, even at the risk of failure”. We should be wary that in our tearing down the damaged parts of us, we do not also tear down other people and their ideas. Instead, we should be willing to learn and collaborate with all others who are striving to create.
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and help them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]