Lighting the spark of creativity

G. Ramesh
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Slipping off to dreamland during work hours? Fret not. It could help you light the creative spark that could be your magic bullet.

For most of people, work is drudgery. Same task, same people, same politics. It is a sameness that sucks the creative juice out of the individual. But for the compensation at the end of the month, they would not be doing what they are. Financial security and social status are tied to the job. Only on rare occasions do workers find fulfilment in work.

The tendency of the heart’s desire is to fly, but the pulls of everyday gravitational pressures — family, children’s education, home loans and so on — is so strong that the worker cannot make a big leap. Only a momentary leap is possible, detaching oneself from the earth for a few seconds.

This is a distressing situation. But do we have a choice? Robert Frost, an American poet, says that his ‘object is to unite my avocation and my vocation’. A grand goal, that Frost achieved through farming and writing poems about nature. Only a few of us can afford to imagine on these lines. Why only a few and not all? It is a good question for debate, but in the battlefield of life we have no time for such debate. A few have the genius, courage, and intuitive intelligence to be creators. For the rest the only reality is this: they hold a boring job.

So, it’s not a happy situation for those who are not fortunate enough to unite their avocation and vocation.

But even in a difficult situation the light of creativity can flicker. The only requirement for that spark is an intelligent discontent in the midst of monotonous work. That light can transmute a boring job into something that gives fulfilment.

On the Harvard Business Review Network Blog, Pat Olsen refers to work expert Tammy Erickson’s advice: if you're unhappy, see if you can upgrade your contribution to the company, or find a way to be more creative about your job. Erickson was doing a boring job in a book bindery and didn’t become negative about it. She found ways of making it less boring. Erickson’s advice is the most practical one. And it can be followed easily if one has the inclination to beat boredom.

A new study

But researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are going a step further: they are saying boredom at work can boost creativity. According to UCLan psychology experts Dr. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman, boredom at work gives time to daydream which can result in creativity.

People who were asked to do the most boring work like reading the numbers from a telephone directory for 15 minutes were more creative, says their study.

Questioning the prevalent view, Dr Mann says boredom at work needn’t be eliminated but embraced ‘in order to enhance our creativity.’

The very idea that boredom can unleash one’s creative potential is itself creative, and opens the door to new possibilities.

If UCLan psychology experts’ experiment proves true in all cases, then organisations that want to foster creativity have to view their employees, especially the ones who do mechanical tasks, in a different light bearing in mind that a creative spark can come from them.

To sum up: we needn’t write poetry like Robert Frost to be creative.

What we need is poetic eyes that see things differently, the eyes that sees “a world in a grain of sand” as William Blake put it.

What we need is poetic eyes that see things differently.




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