Do not trust who asks you to be creative

When I was hired to work for a company in Portugal, I was told: “We want you to be creative! You’re completely free to create and come up with new ideas for the company!” And that’s what I did. After a few months, they fired me. Later I realized why: in fact, they only wanted someone to do exactly the same job as the former employee (probably fired for the same reason).

Creativity is certainly an important differential, and many would like to work with creative people. However, few really know how to deal with other people’s creativity. We often hear that we must be creative in our professions and how it is relevant to our careers and professional future. But, while claiming this, they do not give the necessary freedom for creativity to flourish.

Creativity involves doing what no one expects you to do.

There is still no room to be truly creative. It takes a lot of resourcefulness to find a middle ground between following the company’s rules and proposing innovative ideas. Creativity involves doing what no one expects you to do, only that they are scared to death because they do not know what you are going to do. They want to know beforehand to give permission and, under these conditions, it is impossible to be creative.

A great example of this is Steve Jobs, who was fired from his own company for being too creative. His fanciful ideas and unpredictable character drive his colleagues crazy and, before they lose their minds, they kicked him out. However, the company was not the same without him and his presence was indispensable, which brought him back.

Steve knew how these things work. When he dealt with the partnership between Disney and Pixar, he did not want Disney’s ideas to contaminate Pixar. So Jobs gave full autonomy to Catmull and his team to do their best to keep Pixar from being muffled. The result everyone knows: the two brands became even stronger, without the need to mix them.

Creativity is not only in the combination of ideas but also in the combination of minds and people. If companies continue to look to their employees as disposable resources rather than real people, we will remain stagnant in the “same old” as we watch innovation disappear on the horizon.

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💡 Creative Connector | Speaker and Advisor on Creativity, Leadership, Future of Learning, and Future of Work | Professor and Researcher

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