The Creativity Leap – #314

The Creativity Leap

Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work


I’m James Taylor and you’re listening to the super creativity podcast a show dedicated to inspiring creative minds like yours. Natalie Nixon is a creativity strategist, global keynote speaker, and author of the award-winning The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work. As President of figure8thinking, she advises leaders on transformation by applying wonder and rigor to amplify growth and business value. Her clients have included Comcast, Citrix, living cities, VaynerMedia, and Bloomberg, and as a hybrid thinker. Now to talk about what hybrid think is a hybrid thinker. Natalie consistently applies her background in cultural anthropology and fashion. Her Curiosity has also led her to live around the world and work as a professor. And as an early-stage investor to social impact ventures. It’s my great pleasure to have Natalie Nixon on the show with us today.



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Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

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It’s my great pleasure to have Natalie Nixon on the show with us today. Welcome, Natalie.

Natalie Nixon  0:51  

Thank you, James. It’s really awesome to be here.

James Taylor  0:54  

So we let’s start with definitions. Because I always love bringing in creative speakers, we get to talk about what our perspective is on creativity and innovation, whether it’s things like so give me your definition of creativity.

The Creativity Leap

Definition Of Creativity.

Natalie Nixon  1:08  

I think about creativity as our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. And I landed on that definition because I was really looking for what I hope to be an accessible and simple way to think about creativity, and also a way to think about creativity that democratizes it, because I don’t know about you, James. But often, I find that when people, especially in corporate environments, talk or reference, talk about or reference creativity. They’re thinking of artists, they’re thinking of designers will say, Oh, I’m not a creative type, because I can’t fill in the blank sing dance, draw paint act, etc. So yeah, I think about creativity is our our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. And then sometimes I’ll add on an addendum and produce novel value, but usually I just stop it toggling between wonder rigor to solve problems.

James Taylor  2:07  

And you in the book, you interview lots of people and over 50 people, everyone from CEOs of companies to think your plumber at one point you interview to get his or her perspective on creative on creativity as well. And what’s nice, even though it’s a topic, you know, I read a lot about, I think, and speak a lot about, there was so many little things in the book that I thought, Oh, that’s a new take on it. Or this is a piece of research I haven’t seen before. And one of the ones which kind of links to your point you just spoke about there was research from Steelcase in relation to creativity in the roles. Could you just kind of share maybe a little bit about that, because I think that would help us continue on the kind of conversation where we’re going to be going.

Role Of Creativity

Natalie Nixon  2:46  

Yeah, the recession still case is very interesting. They are an American based furniture design company. And they’ve done quite a bit of interesting work, looking at the future of work, upskilling and rescaling. And some of the statistics that I share are around people’s desire to be more creative at work. So for example, I think it’s something between 55 to 60% of the about 1500 people they surveyed, want to exercise their creative capacity at work, but 19% only a bit feel like they’re given permission, or to to express an extra sense that creativity or even model it. And still case also did some research on the role of upskilling and rescaling and how younger generations Gen Zed the Centennials, as well as millennials are really expecting to be in work environments where they create where their creative capacity can be tapped, and exercise. But there’s also really great research from Fidelity Investments, and degreed which. And of course, one of my all time favorites was some data from the World Economic Forum. You know, the World Economic Forum, has been citing creativity as the number three jobs skill. Since 2016. They’ve said that it’s going to be the number three jobs go for 2020 and beyond. And ironically, job skills, numbers one and two, are critical thinking and problem solving, which, you know, PS, that’s still creativity. So in my book, creativity is ranking as the number one job skill for 2020 and beyond.

Trend Of Creativity

James Taylor  4:20  

But why thought was interesting that research you can laid out, you know, most people aren’t considered themselves, you know, to be to kind of fully express their creativity and their work. And obviously, that’s to study Adobe, the state of creativity that’s research on that. But I thought what was interesting what as well, and that research is Steelcase was that it can generational change we’re seeing and I remember you’re a keynote speaker on creativity. I did. I’m speaking creativity as well. And I remember first having a conversation with Sally Hogshead. Great speaker about Yeah, I’m thinking about doing the speaking thing. And, you know, and, and I’m interested in creativity as a topic. And she said to me, James, you should really focus on innovation because That’s the phrase that people use in business as opposed to creativity. But really, I’m more drawn towards creativity than innovation. I love innovation. I speak about innovation as well, but creativity, I feel as the core and I sense that with your work as well, creative core as it goes out. And she said, you know, innovation speakers earn X percent more than creativity, because I, okay, I’m just gonna go with a hunch that over time, more people will get comfortable using the word creativity in a business context, I might be completely wrong. And but your study kind of started to show that and I saw some other studies at the Google Trends, looking at the same thing, where the innovation as a phrase is not is kind of just static, stagnant, really, whereas creativity is just exploding. Is this what you’re finding with with your clients? You work with clients, more different industries?

Natalie Nixon  5:49  

Yes, absolutely. I’m so happy James, that you followed your intuition, you felt your hunch that you’re going to follow that nudge that your hearts and lean into that. And, you know, my my stance was, you know, when I first started, my company figured out thinking I would get invited into a lot of corporate client environments to help them build cultures of innovation, which I gladly engaged in. At the same time, I just started having this nudge, this sinking sensation that we were starting at the wrong place. And one cannot critique a system without offering alternative, which is how I began this journey of really defining in an accessible way, new ways we can think about creativity, because in the hallowed corporate Hall, corporate halls of America, if you lead with creativity, especially definitely five years ago, people will look at you like he had three heads. And so you know, and probably to that worked to that colleagues point why she was discouraging you from leaning into to innovation. And I have to say that I really use my speaking as a way to prototype ideas. And even in my larger advisory engagements, I am co creating and I look at it as a collaborative venture. And I used to be really shy about bringing these ideas of Wonder rigor, not so much but wonder Yes, and in some of these, these corporate

James Taylor  7:20  

rooms, it could sound a bit Southern California in here, but Whoo.

Natalie Nixon  7:25  

Little bit, woohoo, people sound like some people. So think creativity is a little woowoo. They think there’s the important stuff, and then creativity and treat it like lipstick on the pig. But what I observed is that, as I got more brave and more confident about sharing this idea, around toggling between wonder and rigor, I would notice visceral shifts in people they would soften, they would lean forward, they would get more curious, what do you mean by that? Could you could you share more about that. So those were indicators to me, that I was onto something I was on to a way of framing their work, that really connected to the human core of why we even show up for work. You know, I often remind people that organizations are organisms, they are made up of humans, one of the biggest contributions of behavioral economics in the late 70s, and 80s, was that we finally grapple with the fact that markets are made up of humans, and therefore they are imperfect, inconsistent, and non predictive. And once we got through that, we, we realized we don’t necessarily need to treat these these things as these kind of in this linear Gantt Chart processes.

James Taylor  8:40  

And in the book, you break down this kind of, as you can, you can structure the book of these three areas that we can think of to to improve our creative unlock our creativity, I guess, and in the title is the creativity of the Unleashing curiosity, improvisation. intuitional work. Curiosity. Another way you use talk about curiosity is inquiry is inquiry asking, and you you refer back to some work of another guest what she had in the show a while back. Warren Berger, who did a book on questions as well. So specifically, talk about what you you were Warren’s work connected with your work? And how that can help us in the kind of creative work we’re trying to do?

Creativity Framework

Natalie Nixon  9:26  

Yes, so what you’re referring to is my three i creativity framework, because I thought to myself, I don’t think it’s enough for me to say to people, okay, toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. Off you go, now you’re creative. It would be helpful if I also supplied a technique of sorts, ways that you can intentionally and therefore sustainably do this toggling between wonder and rigor to solve problems and therefore really activate creativity on a consistent basis and in the inquiry, so the three eyes as you just said, are improvisation and intuition, and then the inquiry piece, you know, I’ve had a professional crush on Warren Burger for some years now. He’s aware as is my husband.

James Taylor  10:10  

So do I, my wife knows about

Natalie Nixon  10:12  

this. Okay. Yeah. I mean that I provide his love his groovy job title. He’s a question biologist. And I actually got an opportunity to interview Warren for a podcast that a friend produced for me called the Wonder rigor lab. And in it, you know, Warren talked about how, in his advocation, his advocacy to really encourage leaders to lead with questions, he admitted that that really means that we’re asking leaders to cede control, which is equal parts terrifying, and liberating. So the inquiry piece, I learned a ton from Warren Berger, I also learned a lot from Ian Leslie, who wrote a great book called curious and curious, Ian Lesley defines curiosity as the product of an information gap. Don’t you love that? I mean, think about if you observe little children are affecting your own children, are we you as a child, the reason why your hand goes towards that blue flickering substance on the stove range, that hot flame is, you have just a little bit information about that. And you want to know more you want to understand a bit more. So the inquiry piece I am discovering on a daily basis is really fundamental to building what I call our creativity quotient, that capacity for creativity, and therefore, to truly innovate. And at the same time, we certainly in you know, I’m USA base, we certainly the United States have systems in place that have kind of squelched, a lot of curiosity.

James Taylor  11:51  

Yeah, one of the things which I kind of forgot, and your book reminded me of it, again, was also not just about asking better questions, but questions sequencing, the author makes you ask a question as well. Can you maybe explain Africa? I haven’t heard that phrase before. Yes. With the order in which you ask questions.

Natalie Nixon  12:10  

Yes. And again, this is something I learned from Warren Burger. And this really struck me at the time, this is probably about six years ago, when I really started to learn about Warren burgers work. And I’m referring to his book a more beautiful question. And that was followed by another great book called The Book of beautiful questions. At the time, I was really steeped in design thinking, I was a professor at the time, I had started a strategic design MBA program. And in design thinking your listeners may or may not know, one of the big principles of design thinking is to start with empathy, to try to walk in the shoes of the people who are buying your stuff, who are buying your product services and experiences. And the ways that we, we always like to try to reduce and distill things to steps. But the way sometimes, like the Stanford d school, or IDEO, or like these other big organizations, think about design thinking Jean Leica also has a wonderful, she was at the Darden School of Business at UVA, and a really wonderful sequencing of, you know, asking, why, and what if, and, and like, what matters, and I’m getting jumbled in my brain right now. But what I loved about warm burger sequencing is that it was so interestingly, in parallel to the way we think about asking questions in design thinking, which is you follow a divergent pathway, and then you converge, you diverge into big expansive questions, and then you converge into tactical, practical, how are we going to get this done? And what I loved about Lauren Berger sequencing is that it was so elegantly simple. It starts by he observed when he was interested in the following question, what makes the most innovative companies so innovative? Like how are they doing that? And he visited a bunch of them, he talked to leadership. And what he learned was, they tend to start by asking why, why do we only hire people from these sorts of schools? Why? Why don’t we have anyone here? Who’s over age 50? Why? Why have we never tried marketing to the southern hemisphere? Why, why, why? And then they ask even bigger questions. What if? What if we started hiring people who only have a high school diploma but rich work in life experience? What if we started hiring people in their 70s? What if we started marketing to Brazil? What if what what if? And then finally, after you ask those big expansive questions, you got to get tactical? How are we going to do that? What would need to be in place to make any of those happen? And so yes, it’s not enough just to encourage people to ask questions, but to equip them with tools and these sorts of sequencing to so that They can really start to shift culture on their teams and their organizations and really equip people with the confidence to ask questions because a lot of us have been questioned, shamed.

James Taylor  15:11  

And I think there was also something I was thinking about was, actually last night, my wife and I went and saw the new James Bond movie. And and then like, a few days ago, we saw a great young movie called promising young woman with Carey Mulligan. And we sat through this movie, the James Bond movie last, I won’t give any spoilers for it, but just thinking there is no why behind this movie, there was no there was it just felt like it’s, you know, Scene after scene after scene, but there’s no congruency to it. And then we watched the promising woman, and it just felt everything. It’s like it was it was like a probably a 10th of the budget of the of the James Bond movie. But it was a powerful movie. It was strong, he had a big why. And it linked everything from that as well. And I thought, That’s interesting, because I was, you know, the about the question is asking questions, it’s something we can do, right through the creative process as well, even when we’re gonna have to get going back to Okay, let’s go back to that. Why question. Why are we doing this? You know, I think going back to going through sequencing in that order as well.

Natalie Nixon  16:21  

Yes, yes, I haven’t seen the newest students bamboo. But I, you know, one of my two dream jobs are to be Lenny Kravitz, backup drummer and a Bond girl, James Bond movies, but I haven’t seen the latest one that I did see promising a woman and you are correct, it is so svelte, it is so packaged, but not in a way that is predictive. Right? It is by just so intentional, and the way the story is told, and the way that it unravels and how the characters intersect. Clearly, those craters ask a lot of questions about throughout the process to each other. In the writers room.

Quiet Storm

James Taylor  17:10  

Now in the book, you give ideas for collaborative creativity, but you also give ideas in terms of individuals in what we can do on our own. And one of the ones that I really liked was, you caught a quiet storm. So what is a quiet storm? How can we can this help us with our creativity?

Natalie Nixon  17:26  

Well, sometimes we have most a lot of us have experienced brainstorming sessions, where there’s someone at the front of the room, who typically gets to have the marker, and stands in front of the whiteboard. And they announce, Okay, everybody, give me your your, your best ideas, you know, whatever the prompt is, and, you know, maybe you get some good ideas up there. But typically, the extroverted Bossy Pants dominate. I happen to be one, I’m an extrovert, actually, I’m an ambivert. But

James Taylor  18:00  

in those times I have device that’s a new one. I’ve heard that phrase before. Yeah, I

Natalie Nixon  18:05  

can talk to anyone in a room. But I get my energy by I reintroduced actually, by being to myself, I actually am a bit of a loner, I I suspect, I really like being myself, actually. But anyway, I, you know, those types of environments for brainstorming are effective to a point. Right? So another way to approach it is, is just to do some quiet storming what you do you have your prompt, like, what’s our next marketing strategy? Or where should we begin our strategic plan? Or what’s our next I mean, I don’t know could be really big question or really specific question. And you use a timer, because creativity loves constraints. And you have each person has a pen and a piece of scrap paper. And maybe you give them 90 seconds and give them two minutes or even five minutes. It depends on my time you have. But I actually have found in my experience, and doing this quite a lot. There’s a shorter amount of time you give people the more question, interesting questions bubble up, or thoughts bubble up. So you have each person individually write down their thoughts just generate as much ideas and you also qualify by asking them to not overthink it, to write down the first thing that comes to your mind. The next stage after let’s say, it’s 90 seconds, after the 90 seconds is up, you ask people just to turn to the person next to them and have a conversation and share what they learned what they wrote down. And then you time that maybe that’s five minutes. And then after that, you ask okay, I would love to hear from each duo. What you would qualify as your greatest hits. Were your top two or three, three favorite ideas that came from your conversation and then that person might, you know, share publicly on that whiteboard, what has come up and what begins to happen as you start to be able to what in qualitative research we call sorting. SIFT, you start to see patterns and you can start to cluster certain ideas together. And is a really marvelous thing that happens, because I don’t know about you. But when I’ve been in the former type of brainstorming sessions, and I did that I said out loud is up on the board. I’m thinking, yeah, that’s my idea. That’s my idea that’s up there on the board. And then if my idea kind of doesn’t get up there, I’m like, man, they don’t like my idea. That’s the thought that comes into my head. But the marvelous thing that happens in quiet storming is that it democratizes everything. It is this kind of emergent swell and process where there’s no real ownership of the idea. It’s about collective generative thought and work. So that’s the essence of quiet storming.

James Taylor  20:47  

I think techniques like that can also work very well. You know, I’ll often work with companies in the Middle East, where they have maybe a more kind of fixed hierarchical structure or large family businesses, where you have multiple generations in the business or different perspectives on what, what needs to happen, I think techniques like that. And then there’s another one called Brain racing, which has some so it’s this idea of a use a democratizing, and also in one part, also, as you can hinted at the removing some of the ego, yes, from it. And if done, well, obviously, where can the diversity of thought into the room as well as your people, different experiences, different life experiences? So but no one can say? There’s like, well, that’s, that’s, that’s my idea. You know, it’s kind of opens up to more options as well.

Natalie Nixon  21:35  

What is brainwriting?


James Taylor  21:37  

So brainwriting is, in some ways similar, essentially, everyone gets a piece of paper. They’re told what the challenge is. And let’s say, we got a new design this new widget, this is our problem. Okay, come up with and you can use questions as an example. So that, okay, what are the questions that we can think are related to this. And so you ring a bell, and for maybe at five minutes, Everyone raised all the questions that they can either on post it notes, or paper, and then ring the bell at that sheet of paper gets past the person on the left, that they can either add to that idea, or that can sometimes be a jumping off point for them for their own idea as well. And basically, and you can continue, you can add new post it notes, and it goes round for 20 minutes or so. And then all of these posts, that notes get posted up onto a wall. And then everyone is given some little red dots, and they’re like three red dots each. And then you each go and put your three red dots on those three ideas you think are the strongest, or you want to go into further. And then normally, what you would do is that’s a perfect time to take a coffee break tea break, go away. And then when you come back into the room, you’ve got those three or four key questions or key ideas, everyone wants to kind of get get around. But the nice thing is, no one knows really whose idea his question is. So it can aid marketers and it takes away some of the hierarchy from organizations as well.

Natalie Nixon  23:03  

That’s, that’s a great method. Also, I used that as well. So we call that question storming and you round robin it by passing it around, and I it is a wonderful way to democratize things.

James Taylor  23:15  

So we spoke a little bit about inquiry, where this was the next thing, which is improvisation, something that you and I both have a common connection with, which is jazz music. And you were very inspired by Frank Burnett, a book that he wrote about what organizations can learn from jazz. So what inspired you What do you see in in Frank’s work? These are okay, I can really start to share this and the kind of work I’m doing tickets, add something to it. Yes. And with the clients that you work with?

Natalie Nixon  23:46  

Well, Frank bears work is phenomenal. And I really came upon all the work and research has been done on improvisational organizations from a jazz lens from a jazz perspective, but accidentally by really submitting to the data, listening to my research, so I was in the throes of a of a Ph. D. program. I am a qualitative researcher, I did a lot of interviews, I was working with the Ritz Carlton Hotel to understand the ways that they design experiences for their guests to delight their guests. And I was really stumped because at this stage in the doctoral process, I had to come up with a theoretical construct that will kind of frame the way I was thinking about all this stuff. I had no idea what my theoretical construct was, and I was Skyping with my Principal Advisor, it was a very teary session. I was about to sign off. And I said, Well, you know, there is this one thing that I keep hearing, she’s like, what? And I said, well, people keep referencing jazz music. They’ll say things like when it works really well. It’s like jazz, it flows. Sometimes we’re like an hour ensemble and she said, Hang on, um, she’s English. I can’t do a good English accent. But she says she’s like, hang on. You’re talking about improvisational organizations. I was like, what’s that? She said, she gives me a couple of things. She goes, read up on it. And what I learned is that there is a whole cadre of academic scholarship that looks at organizational improvisation from a theatrical improv perspective. Another good looks at it from a jazz music improv perspective. And as an African American woman who grew up with a father, who was a big jazz head,

the jazz improv heuristic really resonated with me. And in a lot of ways, it was very personal. And it was kind of helping me to come full circle, especially as I, as I learned that, that all improvisational systems are complex systems. And jazz in particular is a complex system. And that stems from systems thinking, chaos theory, all complex systems are adaptive, self organizing, emergent. And it was just a phenomenal way to all of a sudden understand the data and to understand org behavior. And, you know, jazz music is African Americans contribution to the United one of our many contributions to the United States, in terms of it is a uniquely classical music, American musical form. And so it was just really cool to learn how Frank Barrett thought about it, you know, he talks about things like this principle of solo and support. So in a jazz ensemble, let’s let’s look at the great jazz drummer Art Blakey, who was the leader of the ensemble, but because of his position as a drummer, he was he receded to the back. And in jazz solo, there’s always a solo support someone, someone gives a solo, there’s a kind of an offering of a riff, and it’s about how can you build on this, right. And it’s also a bit teasing. Sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge. But it’s really about this offering. And it’s not about the leader, always even being out upfront, even saw this in the work of Miles Davis, I’ve watched several great documentaries about mons Davis. All I don’t condone his, his personal life and the way he treated women specifically, but he was a genius of a musician and an artist. And he intentionally would bring along younger jazz musicians. I mean, for heaven’s sake, he brought along John Coltrane with John Coltrane, touring was still very young man and musician. And he was always learning he was always about being able to recede to the back, and then move on. So what that looks like in organizations is what if we had a model of leadership where the leader didn’t always need to be in the front of the room, or the leaders, uninvited sometimes the more junior people, the newer people who may be new to the company, but had, you know, really storied experience in the sector, right? So there’s all these ways we can borrow from the way we observed the jazz musicians operate and see how that might play out no pun intended, and, and work environments. Another one last example, give us embracing mistakes in jazz music is really no such thing as a mistake. Because as I said earlier, it’s all about the build. And so a lot of us have are working or have worked in organizations where no one dare make a mistake. But we know there’s, we know, rationally, there’s no such thing as perfection. But the stakes always seem so high. It isn’t making mistakes. And yet, you know, over the weekend, James I was watching a Netflix series called billion dollar code. And it is it traces the true life story of a group of young German artists and coders who essentially wrote the algorithm and produce the prototype, which was the antecedent to Google Earth and they it’s a David and Goliath story, because in the story, you know, Google American Google basis stills their their IP, and there’s a whole lawsuit etc. But there’s a moment when these two young bright drop College Art College and techy code school dropouts are pitching to Deutsche Telekom. And they’re kind of losing them and the potential funders are about to leave the room. And the character Casper, he says this moment he says hang up, he says, Wait a minute, isn’t this because it because basically the funders, like there’s too much at risk here we could make a big mistake and we can’t afford that. And Casper halts the men at the doorway and he says, Wait a minute, hang on. Isn’t that what innovation is all about? It’s about making mistakes. I mean, that’s the whole point of innovating. We can’t innovate if we’re not making mistakes, right. So that principle from jazz music, which jazz musicians, they, they accept that from Ground Zero is an opportunity and our work environments.

James Taylor  30:20  

And it’s almost like, you know, the phrase gets used a lot now as a brand creative destruction, the economy, Schumpeter stuff, everyone likes the creative bit, but no one likes the destruction bit. The grit, the creative, but you got to do the structure a bit, you know, Myles would have had to have taken the stuff that he would learn from the, you know, the Louis on the previous generations, where there’s Louis Armstrong, and go, Okay, that was that I’m gonna get rid of this now. And then after my LGU, probably happy like Keith Jarrett, who came in and just did something completely new as well. Right. One thing I did notice that the jazz musicians and have a family of jazz, my grandfather’s jazz, double bass, my father, jazz guitarist, my wife’s a jazz singer, so kind of let you surrounded by jazz music. But one thing I do notice that jazz musicians will do talk about that playfulness is I will see some jazz musicians, when they’re improvising. They will feed like a lot line. Also think you know, the, the kind of call and response style with the freedom align. And they know that it’s going to put the other person in real hot water to try and figure out how to go go there either harmonically or rhythmically, or whatever the thing is, because they they’re playing, they want to see where they can do. Yeah. And and I think how many other times would you be in a group setting where your coworker would set you a task? That was so crazy, difficult, hard to put you down some dark alleyway that you’re not sure how you’re going to get out of again? And that’s, for me, that is the kind of innovative the spark thing? Yes. But it requires a sense of respect of, of people, these musicians respect each other in order because they would only put them down if they believe that they’ve got something within them in order to be able to find that way out and find that way, of course, correcting whatever they have to do.

Natalie Nixon  32:10  

Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. It requires respect. It requires an embrace of play. We see it, I think coders do this. I know artists definitely do this high, high premium level athletes do this, right. It’s It’s It’s rap artists do this, right when, when they’re when they’re spitting rhymes and flowing. And you’re right, it is totally a sign of respect. And it’s a sign of play. And that is also something that’s missing in our work environments. And I don’t mean like Foosball on the corner, and like a dart darts on the wall. I mean, that’s fine. But if you think about it, all of the skills required for really awesome play, are the same identical skills required for executive leadership functions, such as active listening, the ability to collaborate, the ability to negotiate the ability to anticipate what’s next and what’s coming around the corner. So I can’t underestimate the value of integrating Play into our work ethos.

James Taylor  33:18  

I don’t know discipline. And my my final question for you is something I know you have a real passion for outside of your being on stages speaking, so the things that you do is dance. So that is another art form that requires great collaboration, you’re having to say, Listen, you have to listen. But you’re also having to feel move while the other person is doing as well. And, and a huge amount of discipline to be able to do it. So what was dancing taught you about creativity?

Dancing And Creativity

Natalie Nixon  33:48  

Ah, that’s the rigor piece, right? Like so often, we leave we think of creativity as woowoo addendum to the important stuff, we stop at the Wonder bit, and wonder, by the way, is still pretty, he still do pretty intentional about designing space and time for wondering wonders about all and Audacity and deep curiosity, asking blue sky questions, and also pausing. You can’t wonder at 80 miles an hour, gotta gotta slow down, get a pause. But it also needs rigor. And anyone who’s had any experience in studying an art form knows they’ll speak of in the case of dance before you can do that pero app before you can leap. You must do the incessant mastery of fundamentals. It is sweaty, it is not particularly fun all the time. It’s not very sexy is often very solitary. Rigor is about discipline and focus and the mastery of the fundamentals and it is an absolutely key part of creativity and dance is something that I consider myself a lifelong dancer. I dances I was four Modern Dance primarily. And I danced in the company in college as little bit afterward. And now as an old, old dancer, I can’t lose the way I use, my body isn’t as flexible or strong. But the dance techniques that I really engaging now are hip hop and ballroom. And what I love about it, like, for example, I’m working on working up towards something called a showcase. And I’m working with my instructor on a chacha. And I showed up to a lesson on Monday of this week, really happy and proud of myself because I really reviewed, reviewed and practice and study this. It’s just, it’s just about two minutes worth of choreography, when we get through like the first half of class and he’s pleased and like, yeah, we’re grooving and we’re flowing, it’s good, it’s evident that I’ve been practicing. And then he proceeds to reverse engineer, like just two counts of eight, I’m just really digging into the way my weight should actually be on the ball of my foot. And on the hill, when I swivel, I have to initiate from my center and through my hips, and then I can bend and pitch forward. I mean, the minutiae of detail. And anyone who has seen a ChaCha or done a chacha, it is a really fast dance. But in all dancing and music, this is true as well. If you can’t do it slowly, you really can’t do it fast. You’re not doing it properly, quickly. It’s just a blur. You’re not precise. So the level of precision in which he dressed me down, I’m not mad at him. It’s good. Like, I end the class and like, okay, back in kindergarten, like it dance has taught me that you never arrive. And literally, there’s a movement and dance is two basic movements of dance called the play where you’re bending your knees, you’re lowering than the relevant but you’re ascending, you’re up on the balls of your feet, metatarsal is of your feet. And I remember I was probably about 15 years old, and I was in a class and, and I was irrelevant. We were all relevant. And the teacher was trying to extend, extend, extend, and she said, You never arrive. And for some reason, in my little 15 year old brain, I was like, I’m a big daydreamer. And I was like, wow, yeah. You never arrived in life, I’ll probably never have I’ve always big Sydney. And I’ve never forgotten that moment. It there’s so many great metaphors for how dance has helped me to be anchored in the discipline, but also totally open to the wonder and the dreaming that’s necessary, in the case of dance to tell story through movement. But I’ve transferred it over to all of my work. Always.

The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work:  Nixon, Natalie: 9781523088256: Books

James Taylor  37:40  

Well, Natalie, next in The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work the book is out. Now, where should people go if they want to learn more about you and your work and your speaking and the other things you have going on just now.

Natalie Nixon  37:52  

Well, thank you so much for the steak, James. People can go to they can learn about my keynote speaking, my strategic advisory work. And I have a whole ecosystem of products and services. I have a course the book a deck of cards, podcasts, so I’d love people to poke around and check out the book and share feedback and I love to hear from people.

James Taylor  38:23  

Natalie Nixon, thank you so much for coming on the Super creativity podcast today. Thank you for having me. You could subscribe to the super creativity podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there. Please leave us a review. I would really really appreciate it. I’m James Taylor on European listening to the super creativity podcast.


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