This morning, I was fortunate enough to watch the sunrise at 6:03 AM from a window seat of a Delta Airlines flight. From my completely unobstructed vantage point, I watched as the horizon turned orange, then red, and finally the first sliver of the sun broke the surface of Lake Michigan. It was so bright, it hurt my eyes, but I found I could not look away. I was fixated on how an infinite set of characteristics, like weather, temperature, humidity, cloud cover, etc, combine to produce a completely unique event, every single time it happens. For as mundane as it may seem at a high level, when you stop and look at the details, it is a unique creation of every single sunrise, every dawn, every new day, and it will never be repeated in exactly the same way.
It got me thinking about the infinite possibilities involved in the creative process. A software engineer by training, a business leader by profession, I have always harbored creative energy. In my youth, it manifested itself in an endless array of imaginative ways. As you move into adulthood, it becomes conventional (drawing, music, storytelling, writing), and eventually becomes dented, muted, and sadly, pounded into submission.
Three years ago, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to lead a corporate marketing team. What did I know about marketing? Well, if I am completely honest, not a whole lot. Even at this point, I likely know half what I could or should know. I remember how foreign it all seemed at first; the creative process, the meandering, the extended debates. But fairly quickly, like portion of my mind exiting hibernation, I recognized the creative energy, the boundless imagination, and the desire to build something new and different. Beyond being lucky enough to have the opportunity to lead, I was blessed with a very talented group of people, both the initial team and subsequent additions. The team accelerated and has done undeniably incredible things!
What did I add to that mix? I wish I could definitively say. Maybe I brought a bit of business sense and created just enough structure to channel the energy. Was I a missing piece of the puzzle, a bit of chemistry that was missing? I certainly tried to support and validate the team’s belief that they could outperform anybody. Maybe I cleared some of the roadblocks they had been struggling with and let them do what they did best. And maybe I added a dash of creativity from deep down inside; from a place I had almost forgotten about … that creative child we all have someplace. Whatever it was, it worked phenomenally, and has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career.
So where does that leave us? Well, for me, it has set into motion a whole series of events. It has produced a thought process driven by both sides of my mind; business and creative. It has fueled a passionate rebirth of energy, focus and drive. It makes me jump out of bed every morning and want to get moving! My inner creative is back, and I like him. He keeps telling me what my mother told me every day of my childhood; “Jimmy, with your imagination and your mind, you can do anything you decide you want to do.” How right she was, not only for me, but for everyone.
P.S. “Thanks, Mom”