“I’ve come this far and now people are depending me to lead and point them into the future. I’m not really sure where we’re going.”
This is a common issue I face with business leaders, especially the creative innovators, who are responsible for directing and driving their companies into the right direction – the question, inevitably, is which direction?
When a leader has done good for so long and is then faced with vicissitude or challenge, it’s easy for the rest of the company to wait for their word so they can act. Imagine the Jews waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain top with the Ten Commandments: everyone is just waiting on the Divine declaration on what to do and how to do it.
More often than not, the answers don’t come down from some mystical place written in conveniently and authoritatively in stone, so creative innovators are tasked with having to figure out what is a fad and what is the future and then put a strategy into place to execute what can be a hazy vision.
Innovators are tasked with coming up with the answers, the solutions, and the vision for their stakeholders and their employees. They reassure, they convince, and they are rarely ever allowed to be wrong or make mistakes especially when viability is in their hands. Over time, this type of responsibility can be isolating for my clients because they turn into themselves trying to find the answers. This reaction, or progressive implosion, can have detrimental results on team morale, communication, creativity, and the bottom-line. It can also manifest in the person as anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal, the latter being akin to Moses’ solo climb of Mt. Sinai and finding that burning bush.
First, I encourage my clients to see the value in occasionally admitting that we don’t always have the answers and can’t always be the wellspring of insight. Accepting our limitations in situations can allow us to first alleviate the self-pressure and secondly go beyond ourselves to see who or what else can provide inspiration that can create the catalyst for our natural abilities to converge inspiration with innovation.
Self-acceptance and then reaching outside of ourselves are good starting points. Then allowing one’s own natural leadership and creative abilities flow with a sense of trust in the unknown and the spontaneity of life (which is often a hard task for leaders to perform because they’re always thinking about planning for the bigger picture) and see where they meet and unfold from there. This all sounds easy, but even for the most determined and self-disciplined, it’s not and takes time to shed that shell of isolation, stress, and anxiety to overcome creative plateaus and tap back into the creative powers that got them to new peaks in the first place.