Often, we are asked to merge one of our creative activities with another event, for use within a senior management environment. This might be an executive team building course, a communication programme, or a change management seminar. By doing so, we are asked to deliver much deeper objectives and we relish these challenges. This leads us to work alongside leading external trainers and expert consultants.
Tom Bruno-Magdich is a coach and trainer specialising in employee engagement through communication skills, creativity and innovation. He works with leading-edge tools, techniques and theories based on an ‘integral’ approach to learning and development. Drawing on evolutionary psychology, philosophy and the arts, Tom has a unique approach to experiential training.
Tom and Creative Team Events have worked closely together for over five years, all over the world, on many types of corporate events. I asked Tom for his thoughts on a few interesting points.
Mark: Tom, is being creative crucial to the human condition and if so, what purpose does it serve?
Tom: Absolutely. Creativity is the fundamental process of human being. We have evolved out of a highly creative process that started with a bang 13.5 billion years ago and continues today. Every second of every hour, of every day of our lives our body/mind system is learning, growing, creating structures and regenerating itself.
Our bodies are constantly innovating as we fight disease, adapt our thinking and behaviours, maintain our energy systems and physically repair tissues and replace cells. Our brains are rigorously processing incoming information from the environment, emotionally and intellectually translating our feelings into thoughts and ideas about the people, places and things we come into contact with.
Finally this physical, emotional and intellectual process of creativity results in the innovative stories we tell ourselves (and others) about who we are, what we’re doing and why. It’s all creativity!
Mark: Tom, when I see participants engage fully and really let themselves be taken by a rhythm, dance or sound in our own work, I can see with my own eyes they have totally forgotten they are participating in a corporate event. At that point they often close their eyes, move their bodies and smile, even if it’s just for a second. Where do they go in their minds, and what do you think they access?
Tom: They access what the creativity guru Michael Csikszentmihalyi calls the ‘flow state’. When someone enters this state, he or she will unconsciously narrow their awareness so that it is just focused on the activity or task at hand. Though our brains are unconsciously processing large amounts of information based on feedback from our bodies and the environment, we can only ‘consciously’ hold or focus on limited amounts information, so it is a relief for the mind to let go and just apply itself to one thing.
When we enter the ‘flow state’, our brains shut off certain cognitive processes to allow us to point the whole mind-body system at a task. Some people even lose all sense of their bodily sensations while in this state. Drumming events are particularly powerful as people’s heart rates can synchronise with the rhythm and, as a result, individuals within a group can all enter flow together.
Mark: Lastly, from your experience, what can individuals do every day to enhance or inspire their creative potential?
Tom: It’s amazing how creative people can be when they have to. When we find ourselves in unusual or unfamiliar circumstances, we are forced to adapt and respond to the given situation. Sometimes, this can lead to very spontaneous and innovative solutions. For instance, if and when we lock ourselves out of our cars or homes.
My advice would be to stimulate your mind-body system by giving yourself ‘alternative experiences’ on a daily basis. For instance:
- To start with, you could make a pledge to become curious about everything and ask more questions than normal.
- Read articles or watch film and TV programmes on subjects that you don’t normally read or watch.
- Do something physical that you don’t normally do, such as taking a different route to work at least once a week. Perhaps start going to a martial arts, yoga or dance class just for a month or so.
- Engage with people who you might normally avoid and ask them lots of questions.
- Change your style of dress for a day, at least once every month, to experience different people’s reactions.
- When looking for solutions to problems, don’t settle for the first idea. Ask yourself what would happen if you did the opposite of the obvious. What could you do to make the situation worse?
Anything that alters your experience will help you take a different perspective and stimulate your creativity.
Working with Tom and expanding our team building ideas is always inspiring and reveals more and more to me the need for everyone to have an outlet to express, create and transcend.
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