Q: My boss tells me my lawyering needs to be more creative. What does that mean and how do I do it?
A: In a 2012 survey, over 1700 CEOs were asked to name the most critical workplace capability; the CEOs prioritized “creativity” but also noted that most people don’t have it. So you’re by no means alone.
I’d say creativity is having fresh (if not original) ideas of value…and that people with bosses who prioritize creativity are actually lucky. To be creative, you need to be willing to err, to take a misstep…and that is possible only in an environment that accepts mistakes as learning opportunities. To be creative, you need to be willing to make what seems risky more familiar — such as putting forth a fresh, original idea to see if others think it has value. That, like lawyering, takes practice.
You also can’t be creative if you’re constantly checking your to-do list, pushing past the time for a break by loading up with caffeine, and regularly working or even worrying late into the night rather than renewing your energies with sleep. It may seem counterintuitive, but the brain brings forth most of the truly creative ideas unbidden.
So celebrate your workplace and don’t try to force creativity. Stay open to the possibilities, and sleep on it. You may wake up not only refreshed but with a new idea your boss will also celebrate.