What's Fuelling Your Creativity?

What's Fuelling Your Creativity?

Hello Friends!

Welcome to new Members! Every time someone new joins, you bring your ideas and unique perspective to the group... it's exciting and we look forward to getting to know you in the weeks ahead!


What's Fuelling Your Creativity?

Many artists take inspiration from life on the road and people met on the journey. So, it's not surprising that being grounded has left some folk bereft of new ideas. And yet, there are other ways of getting back into the creative flow: going for walks in nature, journaling, thumbing through a "hook book" where you've jotted ideas as they've come...

A few of you have been offering workshops on developing creativity or sharing your process with people who don't see themselves as creative. I've often expressed gratitude for how I've been inspired by artists to view the world differently and to approach it with more risk and joy.

Having come from a somewhat tough business world, I've enjoyed the camaraderie and generosity of those who make and share music... But I've also come across a certain resistance to the idea that I too, might want to express a creative side... as if business people have to stay in one fast lane while artists get to meander in the creative paths!

We still collectively struggle with the idea that creativity can be found in all fields. We struggle with the idea that creativity can be found in commercial endeavours (people accused of "selling out" because they're doing graphic design instead of fine arts - despite some pretty creative graphic design out there!). We struggle with the idea that artists can be sound in business. We struggle with the idea that we can be at ease in more than one role or world...

So when artists find themselves "stuck" in a bit of a creative desert without any real motivation to write or create a song - which quite understandably is happening as we're in limbo right now - it doesn't always occur to you to turn to business for ideas on how to get those creative juices going!


Lessons Learned from Business ;-)

(What is she talking about? Business, creativity?!!)

When artists talk to me about business, the conversation often turns to taxes, bookkeeping, grant-writing and marketing - not necessarily the stuff that lights the right brain up! But what if I told you that some of the most creative thinking I've ever witnessed was in a wastewater treatment plant in the Sultanate of Oman? Water is so precious there, that they knew that the could change the world if they moved beyond simply taking that sewage, treating it and dumping it into the salty sea... Their filtered wastewater has led to the creation of parks, ornamental trees and a biodiverse wetland. Their Research and Development team is focused on creative solutions that will serve society for generations to come... it's such a hive of experimentation there!

(Photo credit - Haya Water Twitter - Al Ansab Wetlands, Oman)

Working for Haya Water and companies like it allowed me to observe their innovative process. And from that experience, I can share two values and three behaviours that fuelled their creativity.



  • CURIOSITY - People who have been repressed for a long time are curious about the world around them and hungry to learn. I witnessed this in Eastern Europe in the 90s, then the MIddle East in the 2000s. People who travel (not just tourists, but explorers) are curious about how things work and why people behave as they do. When we cultivate our sense of wonder and awe our mind stays open to new possibilities... It seems so obvious yet too many people, force-fed images and ideas through social media and TV, have lost that sense of curiosity that leads to exploration and learning... and new ideas!


  • CARE - I think that sometimes we talk about creativity as a noun and forget that create is a verb. And the value that propels creativity into action, is CARE. It's about being committed to a vision or believing that our craft is valuable. I've witnessed bus drivers literally change the course of their routes because they cared enough about their clients to mull on solutions to transit problems. Care has driven every innovation at Haya Water. Care pushes a lab employee to look at test tube a second time to notice the growth that leads to a cure. Care is about putting egos aside, shaking off fear and diving in.




  • CROSS-FERTILIZATION - In the early 2000s, mixing up people from different departments, markets and roles to spur creativity was an idea that emerged in the business world - inspired by Silicon Valley among others. Again, it seems pretty obvious that different perspectives brought together would expand everyone's viewpoint. And yet, 20 years later, it doesn't come naturally still. In fact, I've observed that people tend to turn to what feels most familiar when faced with uncertainty, rather than reach out to the unfamiliar. Yet companies that encourage "cross-pollination" through transversal groups yield creative initiatives!


  • INTERCULTURAL EXCHANGE - International migration has been on the rise since the 90s, and the benefits of a diverse society is our enrichment when each person brings the best of their culture to the table. Every time we learn a new language, we learn new concepts and challenge our own assumptions. Working through cultural barriers and communication quirks can be trying at times but even moments of frustrations lead us to expanded spaces. Our senses are stimulated - we are energized!


  • DISCOVERY REPORTS - Today, "discovery reports" most often refer to the practice of asking new recruits for feedback on the company they've joined. Their "fresh eyes" often pick up the idiosyncrasies of a company along with quick wins for improvement. But I remember that back in the late 80s, I first heard of "rapports d'étonnement" - Discovery or "astonishment" reports in a company that had ties in Japan and was observing their approach to quality improvement. When their Japanese managers traveled for work, they were asked to submit a report of those "heads up" moments - of things that had surprised them, that had stuck out (in a good or bad way),or intrigued them. Those reports allowed the company to start scanning the world for trends that they might pick on or find inspiration from new products and practices. I've always loved the idea behind this type of reporting - of looking to every new place with wonder and curiosity... (we're back to where we started!)

There are few NEW ideas, but innovation and creativity can be about taking an old idea and giving it a new twist. Or they can be about putting two different ideas together to create a new one (I recently gave an example of a sushi bar in Aix en Provence where they took A. Sushi rolls and combined them with B. Duck and prunes to create a French sushi roll that is simply delicious!) As soon as we take away the pressure to invent something disruptive or groundbreaking, we can cultivate a pretty steady flow of creative thoughts...


What Does This Mean For You?

If ever you find yourself at a loss of ideas in either your craft or your career, why not take inspiration from these three behaviours and two values?


  • Cross-fertilzation: Hop into other worlds! With so many webinars for artists, it can be easy to hear and see the same things. But nothing stops you from joining a webinar with filmmakers to learn something from them! Or start collaborating with a visual artist - where you teach either something about your craft. Step out of the arts and talk to a fisherman, a cook, a pharmacist, a gardener... Ask them about their challenges and the way they work through them... and if you share your own puzzles, you might find they come with a piece you never anticipated!


  • Intercultural exchange: This is an easy one... why not start a creative collaboration with an artist you admire in another part of the world?! Do it for the fun of it. Working on something that is familiar to both - music - through different languages, contexts, time zones and tools can be wonderfully stimulating! Go to any music conference anywhere in the world for a few dollars and meet new folk... When restaurants are open again, try something different where you'll experience new tastes and maybe hear a few stories from the server or cook. Meet the neighbour you nod to but have never had a conversation with because they're new to this part of town...


  • Discovery reports: Ask for feedback on ideas, offer feedback. Listen to your gut reactions. Follow the sounds that lure you. Dismiss those that leave you cold. Choose delight. Finish off your day by listing the things that tickled you, that taught you something... you will see that though idea association, you will have new "stuff" to play with!


  • Care: This is a recurrent theme here! It's about finding your "what for". it's about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and authentic. It's about being prepared to play a role, however small, in bringing about the great change this world needs. It's about picking up the litter off the ground, and through that gesture, feeling a bit more connected to the world you're standing in.


  • Curiosity: Just once a day, learn something new... Read an article. Check out a post written by a group you'd never be part of. Hop onto the ClubHouse app and step into rooms that offer conversations on topics you know little about. Next time you get to hang around kids, BE with them, listen to their stories, ask them questions... Welcome the twist in the story that has you revisiting the plot...

And in all of this, have fun! There's so much pressure on artists to perform, that you forget to play! Step off the stage and forget the audience as you explore. Shake off the sense of panic that comes with watching others launch new albums or prepare new tours. And taste something different...

I remember that when we'd organize corporate management training camps with this one multinational, we'd always break up the workflow with outdoor activities - extreme sports, adventure games, or just nature hikes... The training leaders explained that these breaks not only served to encourage camaraderie and exchange, but that they allowed the brain to work subconsciously to process the "intake" before churning out ideas and solutions.

And this is how I see this period of our pandemic lives. This change of pace is just an invitation to make space for new stories, new friends and new ways of working... and that sets the stage for a creative, fruitful period ahead!

xo Nat

PS. Today I spent a couple of hours with 6-year old Théa. In Théa's world, lions have dramatic lashes, neon manes and fuchsia wings. Because... why not?! Why shouldn't lions be allowed to fly?! And do you think the pot of gold at the end of rainbow is chocolate gold or real gold?! ...

Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 03 Mar 2021