I have always been inspired by Sir Ken Robinson and Creativity. His TED Talk (which I have put below) is a truly inspiring speech and a call to action to move away from exam based focus – and a lack of value of the creative disciplines such as Music and Art. I was therefore very sorry to hear of his death. Read his obituary here.
It is easy to consider that his work on Education was exclusively for students in schools. However, much of what he said is relevant for work environments too. In particular, the idea that we can’t be creative when working for an organisation, or that our contribution will be ignored or not listened to. This is a call to action for emerging leaders and leaders to develop their workforce.
Here are some of his most famous quotes and how we should apply this as a leader.
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Both as a an entrepreneur, a mother and a leader, it is so important to to remember that failure is a learning opportunity. I was brought up in a household where a tiny failure of misdemeanour resulted in a massive negative drama. It took me a while to understand – as an adult, that if framed effectively, this is something you will learn from – and you won’t make the mistake again. As a leader and parent, I have to step back and allow mistakes to be made. As long as they are not harming others.
“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel they’re valued.”
I remember reading The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and being blown away by the idea of everyone having the space and permission to contribute to ideas. And since then I’ve always given time for others to make contributions. As a leader we have to listen to others; different perspectives and ideas are invaluable!
“Imagination is the source of all human achievement.”
How often has a child or adult imagined success or real achievement, only for someone else to burst the bubble, bringing them back to reality! This is such a powerful skill to have; whether it is for problem solving or even working out what you are going to do with your life.
“What you’re doing now, or have done in the past, need not determine what you can do next and in the future.”
We are evolving as people from when we are born. Just because you failed your eleven plus, or didn’t get the job you wanted, doesn’t mean you won’t have the chance to do something in the future. I think of some very successful people who have continued moving forward, even when they have missed out in the past.
“What you do for yourself dies with you when you leave this world, what you do for others lives on forever.”
What a fantastic quotation. We remember how others make us feel; if we treat others well we are going to have positive feelings. If we are treated badly (and I can name a few people in that category), we only have negative feelings. Treat people well.
“Life is not linear. When you follow your own true north you create new opportunities, meet different people, have different experiences and create a different life.“
It is easy to fall into the trap of following everyone else; fulfilling others’ expectations of us, rather than leading our own lives. Following what our parents want us to do rather than following our dream. We perform far better when we have passion for what we are doing. And our lives change. If I look to when I was 18 years old, I would never believe I would be doing what I am now; this is partly because I now know what my passion is, but also, I am no longer listening to what my parents want of me. Life changes including having children can mean that you move on to do something else. Follow your own True North!
“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.”
At last there is a reason for getting up in the morning; for listening to a podcast; watching a programme; being actively involved in a lesson! Curiosity is a very powerful motivation to be involved and to learning. Even as adults we are curious. Add moments for people to be curious when you speak!
Sir Ken Robinson will continue to inspire and instruct leaders and evolving leaders how to treat their teams. Learn from him too.