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Creative curiosity

Last week I tuned in to a webinar discussing what the Australian business scene will look like post Covid-19. I’ve been listening to a lot of these style webinars this year because I’m want to hear what marketers, accountants, designers and business leaders are forecasting. I suppose in a time where we have no idea what’s around the corner, both locally and globally, we seize the closest info at-hand to try to find certainty and assurance.

A global pandemic means we’re in new territory (I’ll refrain from dropping the u-word) and it’s our human condition to analyse, examine and predict what’s coming next. But without any real experience to draw from, it’s natural for fear to raise its head, and with that, we quickly form opinions and hold on to them tightly. It’s this totalistic, absolutism approach that I’m hearing in most of these webinars I attend. Although they sound like experts sharing facts, they're really sharing best-guesses and predictions on what’s the future looks like. I've heard a lot of “we’ll never work in offices again”, “retail is dead”, “there’ll be no international travel out of Australia for at least two years”, “they will find a vaccine”, "they won’t find a vaccine”, “nothing will change”, "this will change everything", “we’ll never go to the races/football/festivals/full moon parties ever again” … and on and on it goes. These opinions get further propelled out to the community when media outlets and social media platforms pick them up and blast them out to us on high rotation. Aside from being mentally exhausting, these shouty, opinionated pundits undermine the one solution which I think can help us move in a more positive direction.

I saw a quote last week from global brand agency heavyweights, DixonBaxi, and it succinctly summed up the alternative to this all-or-nothing approach. “Creativity can save us.” As soon as I saw it, it felt solid because it’s true. Creativity is the mind-opening to allow whatever needs to come through, can. And creativity can happen under any circumstance, era, time or moment, because it happens when our backs are against the wall. When we need it most, creativity serves up a solution. It's a grand idea to bring creativity to everything we do, but's it's a big ask. Who has the time and energy? However, sitting just under the surface of creativity is a much more sustainable approach we can take, curiosity. Curiosity is a gentle state of mind. It gives us space to slowly unfurl toward new concepts and quietly unpick what’s been previously stitched-up tight by the shadowy concept of certainty. One of our most favourite clients leads the way with the curiosity approach and every time we catch-up with him, I come away reminded of how important it is to keep an open mind and sit deeply with the unknown. I've sat in a thousand meetings where senior managers lean forward, eager to articulate their thoughts. This guy always leans back and asks the room open-ended questions. The space he leaves in the not-knowing gives him the freedom to let his mind wander, to go sideways, to uncover a new path, and subsequently, he comes up with business solutions that go to the root of the problem. After the extremes of what we've seen in the past nine months, I'm only taking one solid thing out of it, an attitude of curiosity. No one has all the answers, and if they did, who’d even want to hear them?! To follow the suggestion that creativity can save us will only be possible when curiosity lights the way.


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