I grew up in the theatre. Actually, not only did I grow up in the theatre, but I grew up in the theatre in a small town and then went to a small college. There was rarely much budget for the shows we produced, and we developed a saying:
"We've done so much for so long with so little that, now, we can do anything with nothing."
It was a source of pride for us to produce shows with little to no resourcing, and eventually we began to believe that we had (in fact) become better artists because we didn't have all the other stuff that the other kids had. We had to hone our craft before we got to play with the big toys. And hone our craft we did.
I now have classmates that are starring in major network television shows, winning national awards for technical design, and producing critically acclaimed new productions. Because the world was not their oyster, these artists had to rely on their talent and ingenuity, and it has paid off.
Conventional wisdom holds that the best way to boost a team's creativity is to unshackle them from constraints. The less they have to worry about, the more open they'll be with their ideas, the theory goes. Budget? Unlimited! Ideas from outside? Bring 'em on! Different business model? Consider it entertained! Unfortunately this approach can actually be counter-productive.Constraints, he notes, serve to focus our energies and attentions. They help us strip down to the essentials of our work, and avoid getting distracted by things that have little to no impact on the issues or people we are serving. Likewise, restrictions that choke the life out of your work aren't good, because they don't serve to bring any kind of clarity of focus.
Richardson offers three ideas that are great reminders for Church Work.
- "Focus on the vitals" Love God, Love others. Full stop. What we are doing is not anymore complicated than that.
- "Change your habits" If you have been doing something a certain way for a long time, you will find that your ability to be creative has diminished. This is not to say that your method was wrong, just that it's not giving you the creative boost you need. Change it up.
- "Get uncomfortable" Quoting musician Jack White, Richardson reminds us that "laziness is the enemy of creativity." If what you're doing is easy then the chances of it being creative are slim. Good art is hard work.