When I think of unleashed creativity, I think of the great artists and savants who have changed the world, and I tend to place them in the category of “superhuman”. At the “Make your Impact as a Creative Leader” event, we were all challenged to think otherwise. Creative leadership is attainable, but unlocking that potential requires us to go through the path less travelled – the path into ourselves. We are so busy looking outside for the right circumstances that we ignore the internal barriers that sabotage our potential. “Break your own rules” was the first lesson Elaine Frances taught us that afternoon. Break the rules inside your head and the rules in your life by listening carefully to thoughts that tell you “cannot”, “should not”, “must not”. The path of the creative leader starts with self-compassion, because there will be many opportunities to fail. With self-compassion, we can always learn, grow and see our failures as progress. Therefore, be kind to yourself, and set a framework where there are no bad ideas and all perspectives are valuable.
A creative leader does not aspire to fit in. We had a great panel of speakers who have used their talents in order to disrupt the environments they live in. We learned that a creative leader is simply one who finds solutions to the problems that they see. We also learned how to remove the fear and paralysis that comes when we make a decision. Simply ask yourself, what would you love to explore if you had a blank slate? Once we remove the “finite-ness” of a decision, we allow ourselves to grow instead of being afraid that we will commit to something we will later regret. Sometimes, a creative leader can make a difference by simply listening. You can have an impact by having meaningful conversations with the people in your life!
Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin was the keynote speaker of the evening. Her speech was a heartfelt letter of wisdom addressed to her daughter. She shared the life stories that shaped her and the lessons she has learned from her experiences. When you speak with Mary, you immediately get the sense that “Never become bitter” and “Always promote others” are two life lessons that she lives by daily. Women should find the platforms through which they can channel their passions. Work can be one of those platforms, but there are many other platforms available through your networks.
We then moved to an innovation exercise with Servan Mouazan, Founder of Ogunte. She projected us into our future and had us imagine the world in 2030. This exercise was incredibly powerful as it made us reflect on how close we are today to achieve our vision and what is in the way of achieving our goals. Here we learned another mantra: “See your life plan as a prototype”. I only understood the meaning of those words after my Developing and Managing Others class. Building a prototype and subjecting it through several tests is an efficient way to learn because we stop worrying about finding the right answer, right away. Instead, we focus on the process of learning and experimentation, which allows us to come up with innovative solutions.
The last event of the evening was a fun and practical exercise on how to use our verbal and body communication to be seen as and treated as partners. Amy Carroll guided us through the workshop and kindly gave away her book The Ego Tango, in which she explores in depth the concept of positive influence and communication.
Elaine Frances facilitated the event and shared with us many insights. She reminded us that after all, there never was, and there never will be, someone like you. Acknowledging this profound thought is the first step to a loving and fruitful relationship with oneself. Elaine led us through a group exercise to break our own rules, which set the tone for the afternoon tea networking session. We shared our projects and ideas, which quickly turned into an action plan for the participants and for the group as a whole. It was exciting to be surrounded by entrepreneurs and businesswoman with unique stories. I met engineers and scientists who had started their own companies, which motivated me to think about my own professional development. We had such a great time that we decided to continue these meetings and keep the discussion alive! I am looking forward to see what will come out of this group of leaders!
Carolina Chanis, MBA participant 2015