In many different ways, I’ve heard this being said to me: “You’re just so creative. I can’t think like you.” And each time I am taken back and crack a joke, “wait… can you say that one more time, so that I can record you and show this to my real creative friends.”
It’s kind of like someone calling you cool and you know that deep down you are just a dork who questionably is way too fascinated by people, process, and behavior.
My response to these compliments have always been the same: “I’m not creative, I’m resourceful.”
Resourceful creativity embodies three key concepts:
Perspective Shift: Get to the Root Cause & Reframe
Breaking In to Break Out: Think Outside In then go Inside Out
Look and You Will Find: You have to want the insights, to find the insights
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an observer — just watching and interpreting. See, I grew up in a biracial (African American & Puerto Rican) and bilingual household (English & Spanglish — I’m so serious). Juggling cultures, interpreting meaning and translating multiple worldviews was a normal thing for me and my siblings.
Growing up, we were limited in our resources as our parents we’re making their way from the bottom up in this world. Many times our mother would turn something ordinary, like not having all the ingredients for a meal, into a game. My favorite meal to this day is something she liked to call, “huevo crunch”. It was two over easy eggs with crushed saltines on top. If we ran out of bread, she’d hand us a bunch of crackers and we were allowed to see how many we could crunch in one single squeeze. It was fun and engaging, but importantly it represented the first lesson of resourceful creativity “perspective shifting”.
If she looked at the problem without digging into the why, need or root cause, she would of been hard pressed for options to make a breakfast sandwich. Instead, she understood the true need, we needed to eat and we enjoyed playing with our food. For those who eat over easy eggs like the Geeter kids, you know that you love the mess it makes. By looking at the problem at its core and not beginning with the solution, it opened her up to more possibilities like using crackers as substitute. For all the moms out there, let’s be honest with four kids in the grocery store you are bound to miss an item or two.
“The best things in life are free.” A childhood mantra of ours repeated by my mother when we would go out for adventures. I can remember most of our early childhood entertainment stemming from newspaper clippings of community events. We would attend and play all the games, win free prizes which I now know were promotional giveaways. However, we had a blast, I mean these seriously were the fondest years of my life.
As I got older, life became more complicated and it seemed that you always had to pay to play to do almost anything. Remembering that mantra, put things into perspective on some of the challenges that were hidden from me as a child, budgeting. Today, I help companies navigate transformative change through improving employee & customer experience which results in exceptional operational and financial outcomes. Many of my clients equate innovative breakthroughs with high cost investments but I always like to shift our first approach to this challenge: what if we did this with no budget? By “breaking in to break out”, you are eliminating your hardest constraint by working within the constraint and embracing the art of the possible. When I say no cost or budget, I mean eliminate the need of that constraint, how might you do this for free?
I mean come on, the best things in life are free — aren’t they? You’ll be amazed on how much you can get done through partnership, shared purpose and exchanging of resources. Sometimes, innovation happens when you reorder its parts… you can’t tell me an upside down pineapple cake isn’t breakthrough. My taste buds will not accept it.
Lastly, my mother is probably the best story teller I know. We would be walking in the park and a weeping willow tree will “suddenly” sway from the wind, which meant queue the impromptu story about a ghost from the past. She would see everything around her before we did and then pull the details into the story which would amaze us. In our heads, it had to of been real. On a more serious note, my mother was also the type to read a person like a book. They way you moved, talked and presented yourself were like all the details she’d see on our walks. She listened to every word and would ask you of your own definition. By the end, she would surprise you by telling you something about yourself that you thought no one would ever know or understand. This is why most of my friends like her more than me, and why the people closest to her see me in her.
Her famous phrases would be “look and you will find” and “ask and you shall receive”. I’ve learned over the years, in order to have an eye for things you have to want to see the things. Insights only happen if you’re paying attention and lessons only happen if you accept them. By observing all that is in front of you and believing everything is a sign, you will start to find pieces of the puzzles. By asking questions, shifting your perspective, breaking into the challenge, and looking with intention you will find new paths to take. More importantly, you will find new opportunities to create.
So with that, I’m not creative. I’m resourcefully creative and you can be too!