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Creating a Safe Place to Create

I’m a very lucky man. I get to do, what I do for a living. Many people have to do, what they do.

When I was a boy, I remember my father telling me to find work I enjoyed and if for some reason I found myself in a situation where I either didn’t enjoy the place I was working or the work I was doing, then to find a way to change my attitude until I could find a way to change my circumstances.

Either way I was responsible for my response.

If you don’t like it, then change it.

I was listening to a fellow speak the other night and he said something similar.

“If you can’t change your associates, then change your associates.”

I bring this suggested mindset up as a frame for the idea of creating a safe environment for creativity.

I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have worked with some very, creative people.

The one I enjoy working with the most is Tom Laughon.

I’ve often wondered why is it I seem to do better work when I’m teamed with Tom, than with other creative people.

I think I’ve identified the one ingredient in our relationship; the secret sauce that makes our collaboration so productive.

Here it is.

When we’re creating we always accept whatever the other says and try to build on it.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Well, ask yourself how often someone offers you an idea and you immediately jump to why it won’t work.

Now, I’m not inside Tom’s head, but I can tell you occasionally he offers me an idea and the first thing that pops into my head is “that won’t work.”

The key is to keep that to yourself, don’t voice the negative.

It’s like hacky sack, you have to keep the ball in the air, keep the momentum going.

Creating is a form of play. It’s a party and no one likes a party pooper.

So, when you’re engaged in the creative process, trying to solve some problem, save the editing for later and just throw yourself wholeheartedly into the game of generating options and ideas.

We can edit later.

Don’t worry that an idea is stupid or not good enough, because your inane response just may be the catalyst to help your creative teammate to come up with the idea that carries the day.

I’ve worked on and off with Tom for decades and we have come up with some pretty amazing solutions to some pretty gnarly problems. I can’t tell you which of us is more creative individually, but I can tell you that when we play together as a team, I believe we’re more creative than either of us alone.

So, the next time you’re charged with creating a solution, grab a partner and play. Fuel your partner’s imagination by building on his or her ideas. Use each offering as a platform to leap to the next idea.

By accepting your collaborator’s contributions and building on them you’ll be doing your part in creating that safe place where ideas are planted, nurtured, bloom and can be harvested.

><(("> Gayle Turner

Gayle is a ><(("> Team Member at Catch Your Limit, a consulting firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

Posted in Creativity/Innovation, Teaming.


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