The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

A day at the circus

August 15 2014 15 August 2014

What do lawyers have in common with circus performers -- besides a flair for the dramatic?

As the creative team behind the magic of Cirque du Soleil knows, creativity is an essential ingredient in top performances. But unless you’re an aerial acrobat, chances are it’s been awhile since you’ve flexed those creative muscles.

Enter Lyn Heward, the former creative director of Cirque, who believes everyone -- including lawyers -- can make creativity part of everyday life and use it to sculpt their vision of the future.

She outlined her ideas in seven steps Friday during the opening plenary at the CLC in St. John’s.

1) Jump on creative opportunities as they arise.

Everyone has a wellspring of creativity within them. You don’t have to be a musician or artist or ride a unicycle and juggle flaming torches. The creative spark is there. It’s just a matter of tapping into it day by day. Like exercise helps you develop muscle tone, daily practice will strengthen your creativity.

2) Awaken your senses

In case you missed it, the world is constantly changing. Sometimes we’re the ones who instigate chance, but most of the time we’re on the receiving end. That’s why it’s so important to hone your instincts and trust your intuition. It helps you go with the flow. Surrender to your senses. Progress comes when you allow yourself to move into the moment.

3) Look beyond the obvious

Cirque du Soleil scours the world for innovative ideas and the best talent. But the best finds aren’t necessarily the most obvious. The organization holds closed auditions with promising candidates and for 16 weeks, pushes them to the limit without promising a job at the end. Prospects are evaluated for risk-taking and their ability to work as a team to solve problems and hired for what they might become and how they’ll be able to contribute to work in progress.

Heward calls it treasure hunting and creative transformation: most call it recruitment and retention. “This is sexier; you might want to try it in your business,” she said.

4) A nurturing environment stimulates creative thought and action

It’s important to build an environment that’s conducive to personal growth. It should be a place where employees can see the world with eagerness and excitement. And it needs to foster teamwork: it’s difficult to be creative in isolation. True creativity requires teamwork. Reminding team members of the ultimate goal creates a strong sense of responsibility for its success or failure.

Finally, make sure the environment is inclusive for everybody, not just the stars of your show.

5) Take creative inspiration from constraints

The constraints and challenges we all face force us to become more creative to get the job done. There are many ways to do things, but you have to do things your way. It’s also important to allow what’s happening in the outside world to influence you. You cannot work without taking into consideration what is happening in the world around you.

6) Risk-taking is an essential part of creative process

Creativity is all about courage; taking risks and sharing those experiences with others. You have to mitigate that risk as you do it.

 7) Keep it fresh

How do you keep the product fresh and the troops motivated? The hard-working boss is the best model; people notice how the boss contributes to creativity. The passionate, creative leader never loses sight of the vast human potential surrounding them and keeps fresh ideas flowing.

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