One of the major barriers to creativity and innovation is the fear of looking foolish. “Foolish” means different things to different people: silly, unwise, senseless, irrational, thoughtless, nonsensical, ridiculous, absurd. Ultimately, it’s concern about how others perceive us. Too often we control our actions because we worry about what other people will think about us if we said or did X (whatever that may be).
Yet, there is a need to let go, play, laugh, be childlike to fuel creativity and innovation. Right now I’m in Kobe to facilitate a consultative workshop on innovation for Japanese managers. Before my first trip to Japan, about 5 years ago, I had an image of Japanese people being very formal. When I told friends that I was going to use some improvisation activities in my work I was told- don’t try it. Good thing I didn’t listen (although, I admit, I was afraid I might fail). Although a little uncomfortable at first, participants always come up with things far more fantastic than I would have suggested. Having been here, I understand why. Visit a karaoke bar and you’ll see that playful, creative, wild side. Watch Japanese TV and there are truly funny game shows and commercials. While checking out videos of flash mobs dancing (more on that at another time) I came across this dance mob in Shibuya (notice the quick shot of someone teaching moves to a police officer!)
Lessons learned: 1) Beware false assumptions and perceptions 2) Don’t listen to what “they” tell you won’t work 3) Trust yourself 4) Feel the fear or discomfort and do it anyway
What can you do today to tap into that wild and crazy inner child of yours? How can you help someone else to that as well?
Absolutely. It’s all about risk-taking. The biggest fear is not only failure, but as you say, the fear of what others think. It’s the ego working over-time. Which is why group creation (“Group Mind”) is especially powerful when improvisational tools – some of the very same applied from improvisational comedy – are used.
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