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Practice Bravery to Boost Creativity

By August 20, 2021April 18th, 2022Innovation
A series of motivational sticky notes pinned to a corkboard

Creativity is not second-nature for many people in the world. To be fair, it’s not their fault!

Between the day-to-day logistics that naturally come with being a human adult in the world and the social pressures to conform that we are exposed to from our youth and onward, we are not conditioned to default to a creative mindset.

At best, a creative mindset may feel like a space we allow ourselves to vacation in every now and then for specific activities. At worst, it may seem like an unattainable realm of possibility that only a few artistic people get to enjoy.

Why does it feel so difficult to allow creativity to seep into even the most regular, mundane parts of our work and personal lives? What is comes down to is this: Creativity brings a healthy dose of risk to the table.

Be a Healthy Risk Taker

It’s a risk to create something completely new or to do something in a way that’s different than how it’s always been done. After all, because it’s new, there’s a chance that it might not work!

Particularly when we live in an age where information is so easily shared, why risk others being able to see the fallout when you fail? I’m here to tell you this: It IS worth the risk! We could all benefit from some consistent creative function and healthy risk in life, and you can get there by practicing bravery.

Bravery is one of the key creative behaviors in the innovation and design processes we practice at Independence Blue Cross. When we talk about practicing bravery, we can think about it in three ways: Action, words, and trust.

Bravery in action

This refers to doing the work of creative yet calculated risk-taking. This could look like voluntarily taking on a problem that others have failed to solve before you or prototyping and pitching an innovative idea to your boss without being asked to.

Remember: It’s okay to fail, as long as you are intelligently failing. Doing your research, prototyping, testing, and taking feedback into account is key when you are looking to act with bravery at work.

Bravery in words

If you do not speak up, your voice might never be heard! Having the courage to share your independent ideas, intentions, and honest feedback are crucial when practicing creativity and innovation in the workplace.

This can look like being open and vulnerable with team members, sharing stories of your own failures and how you course corrected, and giving direct and constructive feedback. Communicating in a respectful, intentional, and authentic manner will contribute to a healthier practice of bravery on your team.

Bravery in trust

Placing trust in your teammates is crucial ― more brain power with free range to work creatively means a higher likelihood of success in innovation. Cultivating a culture of trust might look like not micromanaging projects, being open-minded about new ideas (in innovation, we call this greenhousing), allowing all voices to be heard, and giving leadership opportunities to direct reports.

It also means allowing safe space for failures, so more bravery in action might be practiced! Trusting your team will build their trust in you and promote psychological safety, paving the way for higher creative output.

Practice Bravery to Be More Creative

Academic author Brené Brown, an expert on vulnerability, tells us that bravery is not the absence of fear. Instead, it is about the capacity one has to be vulnerable, despite the risk of opening up.

According to Brown, “No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple…If you’re not willing to fail, you can’t innovate. If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create.”

In order to thrive as organizations, we need to foster a culture of bravery and practice it on an individual basis across all levels of the workforce. Using the tactics shared in this article, you too will be able to promote creativity in your workplace through the practice of bravery.

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Tori Kontor

Tori Kontor is a Senior Innovation Consultant on the Innovation Team at Independence Blue Cross. She is responsible for strategic project sourcing, design, management, and facilitation for a variety of clients within and beyond the Independence family of companies. She also creates custom innovation and design training, taught in workshops and sessions both virtually and in hybrid modalities. She holds an MPH from Drexel University and draws strongly upon her background in public health and qualitative research to inform her design approach for problem solving and solution implementation. Tori finds her creativity is cultivated most successfully through trying new things and getting outside whenever she can!