Yesterday I received an email from a friend who had been to a personal development course where they did some collage. Nicely enough it made her think of me :-). She was so blown away by the experience. Collage gave her the opportunity to work on some tricky issues in a pictorial way and be able to express something that language couldn’t.
And this is why I love what I do.
It might be fun and different – but the real reason that I love collage, drawing, and LEGO is that it bypasses your language and logical brain to tap into your subconscious and more expansive, intuitive thinking to answer whatever issue or question you need to solve.
It helps you see something from a totally different point of view, and opens up so many more possible solutions and approaches than if you took a ‘1 + 1 =’ linear approach.
The passion that I heard from my friend reverberated through my mind. It took me down memory lane back to my first experience in using drawing as a thinking tool.
It was about 5 years ago when I was sent to a conference by my previous employer. I attended a session about taking a systems approach to viewing our work and workplace. All very well until the presenter asked us to draw our job within the system of our workplace. Huh? How do you do that? I really had no clue what to draw but I ended up drawing this.
We then took turns in groups of three to share what we had drawn. I talked about the current situation that I faced in my job. I had a supportive manager who saw lots of potential for my future career. She was eager to see me promoted and work my way up the organisational ‘pipeline’ to reach the top ‘stars and moon’. But somehow no matter her enthusiasm and my own ambitions it just didn’t feel right for me. In my drawing, I drew an alternate path.
It was only when I showed this drawing to the group that one of the women commented how interesting it was that the pipeline was only outlined in green and that the other path was through more colourful and inviting scenery. I was surprised by her insight because I had not been conscious at all about what I drew or the colours I used in the drawing. She was also curious that “Given you end up in the same location, why wouldn’t you want to take the more interesting and colourful path?” I was dumbfounded. Until I had that conversation I didn’t even contemplate an alternate path. I just assumed that I would work my way up through the system as I had to date. It was mind blowing.
That drawing is by no means a masterpiece. Quite the opposite. It is extremely simple. But it helped change the course of my career.
It wasn’t an overnight change either. I didn’t finish the drawing, and then resolve to go and pack up my desk the next day. But this drawing opened up my mind and my thinking to consider different possibilities than what I had narrowly considered up to that point of time.
Its power still resonates through me today. I can clearly recall it in my mind without even seeing it. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
It continues to reveal messages to me today. When I look at it now I see that the alternate path to leaving my secure ‘pipeline’ path is a lot more interesting and colourful (and why I am so grateful and love what I do). But taking this alternate path means a lot more ups and downs, highs and lows (which I can now appreciate with running a business). Perhaps something I wasn’t so aware of before. In the drawing I am also carrying a map, so maybe I just have to trust that deep down I know where I’m going and will eventually find my way. It also looks like there’ll be some friendly, helpful and welcoming people along the way. (I am constantly in awe of how extremely generous and supportive people can be when you open yourself up to receive help.)
So this is why I use drawing, collage and LEGO to help myself and others develop plans for their business and work through their business problems.
It helps you see possibilities and opportunities that you didn’t see before.
It connects with something deeper than our assumed worldview or surface understanding of a problem.
It gives you a richer perspective and helps you express an idea more holistically compared to a few words or a sentence.
And don’t get me started on how it helps teams openly share their different viewpoints :-).
Today is the last day to book your ticket for the Castle in the Sky Visual Plan Workshop being held tomorrow (Friday 22 July). It is an opportunity to step outside your business and see it with fresh eyes; to open up to new potential opportunities and what you can do differently in your business. But it’s not an excuse for navel gazing. After creating a big business vision, we’ll be honing in to help you commit to a headline goal for 2016/17 and the actions you need to achieve it. [This event has now been run, but sign up to find out about the next Inner Creative planning workshop, as well as other useful creativity tips.]
And I hope that if you had any trepidations about needing to have any drawing ability as a pre-requisite to coming to this workshop that you can see with my drawing that:
even a simple drawn picture has the power to open up your perspective and maybe even change your life or business.
Thanks for being part of my interesting and colourful journey. You are the reason why I write and create what I do :-).
If you have any questions, are wondering how a creative technique could be applied to a problem you have, or would like to learn more about a particular creative thinking tool then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I really want to write blogs and create offerings that respond to what you need. I’d love to hear from you, so please write your questions in the comments below or fill out a contact form.