Creativity is a mysterious and intriguing force - one that I believe resides in all of us. And one that I am adamant is latent or even suppressed in many physicians.
Just how original and inventive can you really be in your routine of caring for patients? Perhaps if you are another Patch Adams, you can get away with it. But the majority of physicians spend their days adhering to a fairly well-prescribed set of "rules" that must be observed in order to generate a predictable outcome for patients. Physicians can't afford to play around with these rules.
It's therefore refreshing to encounter the voice of a well-respected business professor, whose goal is to foster creativity under even the most "restrictive" and regimented of circumstances.
Professor Srikumar S. Rao is a professor at Columbia Business School and the London Business School, who teaches a wildly popular and oversubscribed course on "Creativity and Personal Mastery". To MBA students! - what was he thinking??
After years of obtaining remarkable results with his course, he sat down to "write down the principles so that anyone who applies the tools can be transformed and live a life of creativity and personal mastery".
The result is his life-affirming and thoughtful 2006 book Are You Ready to Succeed?: Unconventional Strategies for achieving personal mastery in business and life, that have I just finished reading. I was so stirred up by the book that I want to share some of its ideas with you.
Here are just a few of the unconventional strategies that he writes about (in the book, the strategies have accompanying exercises):
- let go of fixed notions of how things should be
- examine the mental models under which you operate, and test to see if different mental models can produce different more satisfying results
- uncouple your sense of well-being from the anticipated outcome, by decreasing your emotional involvement in the result (translation: be less concerned about the results and have more fun being involved)
- let happiness find you instead of engaging in the relentless pursuit of finding it
- separate your sense of self from your behavior (translation: if you don't hit a target you set, this does NOT make you inept or stupid or lazy. It simply means you didn't hit the target, and instead of beating up on yourself, you'd derive more value from understanding what is needed to hit the target next time.
There is plenty more to slake the thirst of a seeker who's keen to live a more creative and meaningful life! And who'd like to learn ways to cope with all the change that starting a business encompasses.
Yes, these strategies are MUCH easier to read about than to implement. While this may sound almost "woo woo", the exercises are some of the most rigorous personal development challenges to take on. I know how my coaching clients struggle with change - as do I!
Dr. Rao urges you to take the time and give the attention to the exercises he offers - the ideas and theory will never amount to much in your life unless they are accompanied by the learning that comes from practice and real life experience.
In my research on the Web, I was thrilled to discover a recorded interview of Dr. Rao by Patricia Wheeler of Leading News . Carve out some quiet time to listen to it - by clicking on the mp3 file link (just follow the instructions on the page to figure out how to listen to it or download it).
Let me know what you think!