Brent Robertson: Feed Your Creative Soul

Conntext| 2.11.14| 1 Comment

I find it can be easy to slip into seeing the world around us as a fixed reality. Falling asleep if you will, to the endless possibilities that exist. It takes work to stay awake to possibility and not feel that you have to succumb to the assumed limitations of the world as we see it. As a creative, maintaining your objectivity and creativity can be one of the most important aspects of sustaining your passion for your work.

It’s important to be able to call up the fact that it’s people that invented this reality we see as so real and so permanent. And, and if we want something better, it’s up to us to create it.

One of the most effective ways I have found in my career to “Go back to the well” of creativity and objectivity is to work with those who are not yet living in our professional world, those who are students of the craft, and apprentices of the world.

Throughout my career I have always maintained involvement with students. I have an ongoing relationship with my alma mater, Hartford Art School. I speak annually at CCSU, University of New Haven and others. I find my interactions with students to be unexpected, energizing and fulfilling every time. And when I think about why this is, a distinction shows up for me.

To be an effective creator of new realities, we need to have to have a mastery of two worlds. Mastery of navigating the world that exists, and mastery envisioning and expressing the reality we seek. To convert an idea into a new reality we need to be able to articulate the world we see in a way the world that exists can understand and see as relevant.

When we are students, we are biased toward a possible, perhaps idealistic reality. Students are focused on what’s possible, and free of the constraints set upon us by the professional world. And in that environment, students can see possibilities, invisible to those of us limited by our calcified perception of reality. As students build strong relationships with possibility, it’s important to be able to put that possibility into the context of reality.

The longer we’ve been out in the world, the better we become at successfully navigating within it. But we can also begin to acquiesce to its reality. We can begin to forget there was a time that we wouldn’t even acknowledge the status quo. As we build a strong relationship with reality, it’s important to nurture our relationship with unbridled possibility.

Spending time with students allows me to see possibility, without filter, without judgment, without the perceived constraints of reality. And to do that, I have to stay awake and be open to the raw possibility conversation, and willingly suspend disbelief. If not, these possibilities could seem preposterous, outlandish and juvenile, and I will foreclose on them. And what a shame that would be because it wouldn’t allow for the best part.

If you are able to be fully present in the possibility conversation with students you begin to leverage your relationship with reality to provide context and relevance for a possibility. It’s in conversations that include both possibility and reality that a new and previously unseen possibility begins to emerge. A new possibility, grounded in reality that is greater than any one idea in the conversation.

Every time I have a conversation with a student about something they are working on, we end up generating a more focused and potent possibility. I get the gift of refreshing my relationship with possibility and the student begins to build their relationship with reality.

Get in touch with your alma mater, or local university. They are always open to outside experts bringing their insight and experience into the classroom. Get involved with students, stay involved with students, and bring students into your work. And may you both get better at mastering those two essential worlds.

Brent Robertson is all about using his gifts, which include an inability to ignore latent possibility in people and organizations and a “sometimes hallucinatory idealism,” to be the catalyst that people need to break free from distractedly and dispassionately going about their lives. He helps transform seemingly conflicting personal and professional visions into a cohesive understanding of our place in the world and the difference our work can make.

Leaders who work with Brent, begin to see their organization’s future as a network of relationships … those relationships that exist, those that will come to be and those that are needed to realize the future. His talents help leaders see the future as possibility, and as something relevant and achievable. His work points to what needs to change, what needs re-calibration and how to manifest those relationships. Brent works with leaders to identify the registers for accomplishment that mark the progress to ensure a future that is sustainable by the organization itself. Brent has helped leaders and their organizations uncover and live-into their visions for two decades.

He is a co-founder of Fathom, a brand transformation firm, and partner with the Center for Leadership Studies, a leadership development consultancy.

One Comment

Marcy Lambert-Pellegrino
Marcy Lambert-Pellegrino 1.12.15

Great Insight!

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