The Power Of Creativity

Do you know what skill is desired most in today’s CEO? It’s probably not what you think. It’s not analytical skills. It’s not the ability to perform market research. It’s not having the foresight to think about risk management and contingency planning, or the ability to read numbers. It’s not even people skills. So what is this all-so-important skill? Believe it or not, it’s creativity. That’s right—creativity…the one thing typically not taught in business school.

It’s not wonder we have a population that lacks creativity—we spend most of our lives getting creativity beaten out of us. We’re taught the importance of reading, writing, math, science, and other “core” subjects, but are often taught that we must let go of our “hobbies” such as drawing, painting, playing an instrument, acting, etc. when it’s time to “get serious” about life. If we exhibit any deviant behavior we’re told to “act right” or “be like everybody else.” The problem with being like everybody else is that you become just, well, like everybody else.

I remember undergraduate school at Southwestern University, a small, liberal arts school in Georgetown, TX. I majored in business…minored in both sociology and communications studies. When I inquired about somebody’s major, they often hung their head in doubt as they stated, theater, performing arts, or art history.” Others would say with disgust, business, math or biology. I always wondered why so many people where ashamed in the things they loved and spent so much time studying things they loathe. But it makes sense. We live in a culture that celebrates conformity and formality. We use terms like band geeks and theater types to describe people who produce things we often value more than education while we hold doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople on pedestals.

I don’t know. I find it sad that so many of us lead an existence based in denying ourselves true happiness. We look up to the rebels—the Steve Jobs’ of the world—the ones that said “’f’ it, I’m doing what I want.”

If we are going to produce the business leaders with vision, compassion, and courage needed to tackle the increasingly complex problems we are facing, we have to cultivate creativity. Where is your passion really? If you’re not following it, now is the time to start. It’s never too late. Never too early.