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How to Become Innovative

This blog is a revised and updated version of a previously published blog.

So often, I hear from business owners, entrepreneurs, and non-profit executives how uninspired and burned out they are. Running an organization is more challenging than being a parent. While there are 500 different books on every subject available, who has the time to read every book and how do you know which book is the book you need?

A year ago, I found myself at the burnout level. I was frustrated, exhausted, and had nothing left to give anyone, not even myself. I wasn’t really sure what was going on, I didn’t know if this was the result of the pandemic, stress, or a full plate. I had no clue what to do, and I had no idea how to ask for help. I knew I wasn’t depressed, the desire and drive were present, the creativity was what was missing. I knew I did not have time to build rapport with a counselor and I honestly wasn’t sure they would be able to help.

On the journey to find my creativity, I prayed, took lots of walks, rode a million miles on my bike, and listened. The answer appeared a few weeks later. I was invited to join a boxing class. I was terrified, I am not athletic and I am not a boxer. But, I knew I was seeking answers and answers often come in the least likeliest of forms. I swallowed my pride and attended my first class. I thought I was going to die, but by the end of class I realized something, I made it through the entire class. If I could keep up with a group of dedicated exercise enthusiasts for one class, than I could do it for another.

Boxing provides me with a focus and peace no other activity does. In addition to becoming stronger and more fit, I have found a safe place I can work through challenges and obstacles. I am by far the worst in the class, but I have learned I have dogged determination and will accomplish a goal. These lessons alone have improved my professional outlook, perspective, and attitude more than anything else.

As I settled into a routine of boxing, I stumbled into a stained glass class. Attending the first class to get a story for a magazine, I was shocked to realize I was good at something artistic. In one class I found my creativity. I learned I was good at art, and could be an artist. I was so enchanted by this discovery, I returned, again and again. Losing myself in the intricacies of a cut, grinding a curve to perfection, and learning I could color outside the lines, taught me to see problems differently, to take them apart and look at one piece at a time. As I struggled to finish a turkey for Thanksgiving and told my instructor I just couldn’t with tears in my eyes, I found an ally who taught me to take a deep breath, start in a corner, and look for the piece that needed to be fixed. As she told me everything is fixable, we just have to look nad adjust one thing at a time. I realized she was teaching me a life lesson.

In the past few weeks, I have expanded to embroidery, punch needle, and felting. I bought a cart and table to unpack my oil pastels and have a place to draw. I pulled out my jewelry making supplies. Being creative has taught me better time management, how to focus and set priorities, how to stay calm, and has given me back my creativity. I think for many professionals I speak to the loss of creativity comes from maintaining such a focused perspective they forget to find out what else they may enjoy. Expand your hobbies, discover new passions, and take a few minutes to just be outside. These investments in you will not only bring back your creativity, but will also make you a better leader.

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