Does your workplace foster creativity? Do you feel most creative when you are at work? What does creativity have to do with wellbeing? In this expert interview with Rochelle Seltzer, we explore aspects of creativity at work. And don't miss our blog Fostering Creative Minds: Does Your Office Culture Kill Creativity at Work?
Interview with Rochelle Seltzer
Mari Ryan: Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Essentials Expert interview series. My guest today is Rochelle Seltzer. Rochelle inspires creativity in others in her roles as a coach, a speaker, and an author. She’s worked in a variety of industries as a graphics designer, including over twenty-five years in her own highly successful graphic design firm. Rochelle, welcome. I’m delighted to have you here with me today.
Rochelle Seltzer: It’s my pleasure, Mari. Thank you for inviting me.
Mari Ryan: Great. We’re going to talk a little bit about creativity today. When you talk about creativity, how do you describe it?
Rochelle Seltzer: I start by saying I believe most people have no idea what creativity is. People have a very limited concept, and they do not know that until they harness the power of creativity in their lives, they are short-changing themselves in big ways. We are all artists; I truly believe that. Some of us write, or sing, or dance, or make music. Some of us create with food, or plant gardens. Some of us are builders, designers, adventurers. Some of us create relationships. Some of us are visionaries and we create visions that move masses of people in amazing ways. I’m hoping that people will appreciate that they are creators, and accept that, embrace that, because I want to teach people to have a creative orientation to their lives and to their work. When we adopt a creative mindset, and when we create an expanded application of creative expression in our lives, everything changes. I think that as a society we primarily live reactively. What I want to do is teach people to understand that they can create their lives, that they are creators and embrace that.
Mari Ryan: Wonderful, I love it. I love that thinking about it as everybody being creative, I really do. How can employers create an environment that fosters and inspires creativity in the workplace?
Rochelle Seltzer: I think people need help to understand that there is tremendous opportunity for creativity in the workplace, and how that can work, and what that means for them as individuals as well as within groups, because we work with other people, and it’s in that work with other people that we have such a great opportunity to collectively understand and embrace creativity.
When I work with people in the workplace, sometimes I work with senior executive teams, I might work with members of a department, in one case this year, I worked with all ninety employees in a tech start up, and what I do is I start by giving people a dynamic expression, a chance to express and experience creativity, and it, I would say almost universally, amazes people that they can create what they create. It’s so exciting, it’s exhilarating, it opens them up in big ways. Then, I teach them a little about fundamentals that contribute to more creativity specifically in the workplace. What I want people to do is collectively appreciate that we are all creative and invite creativity.
So, how can that show up? If you are in a meeting, and typically you would say to yourself “I’m not so creative, and my idea might not be that exciting,” you might hold it silent and never contribute it. If you and your colleagues agree that it is safe that there will be no eye rolling, there will be no humor/sarcasm, that everybody’s ideas are welcome, and if we all contribute our ideas, I might, in one particular case, have a very small idea that I would have otherwise never have spoken and by bringing that to the group, it could be just the thing that sparks a huge idea for you. This is the way that creativity can have a big impact in the workplace, and make a big difference for individuals.
Mari Ryan: It sounds like it’s creating a safe environment and creating those conditions where people feel comfortable being able to contribute and …
Rochelle Seltzer: That’s right.
Mari Ryan: … openly add to the conversation or the ideas.
Rochelle Seltzer: It is, and what happens is that things accelerate. This starts to become a norm in a workplace, and the creative output … people can, instead of going back to what is safe, data, what did we do the last time, how did it work, and going from here to here, we can jump from here to here when everybody’s contributing in a significant way.
Mari Ryan: Love it – that’s great. It sounds like a wonderful environment that you can help create. I’m curious, how do you think about the link between creativity and wellbeing?
Rochelle Seltzer: This is a concept that really excites me, and since we’ve met, and been talking about it, I’ve really been thinking about this, Mari, because for me it’s a natural fit. One of the key conditions that I’ve referred to about the fundamentals we can pay attention to and cultivate in our lives to be more creative, the first one that I talk about is self-love. I get questions all the time about that. What does that mean? Isn’t that a little selfish? I say, to the contrary. It’s really crucial to our wellbeing as well as to our creative fluidity, if you will, that we believe in ourselves, that we love ourselves, that we appreciate how great we are, what our gifts are, our skills and our talents, and all of our qualities. It’s important to feel deserving. Deserving of time for ourselves, deserving of good nutrition, taking care of ourselves well. Getting enough sleep. It’s important that we love ourselves and take the time to slow down, and think, and consider, and stop living reactively. This is one of the ways that we can reduce a lot of the stress that so many of us are incredibly habituated to.
When we consciously can bring more self-love, awareness and practice of self-love, it also helps us to [indecipherable - 0:07:36.2] incredibly damaging influence of our self-critic. We all have a self-critic and it always want to sabotage us. Let me give you an example; if you realize that you tend to compare yourself to other people, that’s a way that your self-critic can influence you, and if you’ve been practicing self-love, and you appreciate your gifts, it’s much easier to say I don’t need to feel less than somebody else, I can feel great about who I am.
Another example is when we try to aim for perfection, because perfectionism is a huge limitation. Self-love, again, can be I’m going to put my best foot out there, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s going to be terrific.
I think the biggest one is the fear of failure. If we love ourselves enough, we can be bold enough and be fearless enough to say failure will not kill me. Failure can teach me something, failure is something I can laugh at, failure is something I can move on from. In all these ways, we can create more effectively and bring much more wellbeing into our lives, both in our workplaces, and certainly in our personal lives.
Mari Ryan: Love it. Those are all wonderful reasons for people to try and find those elements in what makes them feel good, feel creative, be able to express some of those interests, whatever they may be for themselves. I know, personally, I have been on that journey for a number of years with some of my own … I literally said to someone, once, they came to my home and said “look how beautiful this is, and how creative you are.” I said “I’m not creative.” I didn’t recognize it in myself. Once I started to recognize it in myself, and could see how it was tied to my wellbeing, then I got exactly what you just stated, it is essential for our wellbeing.
Rochelle Seltzer: It enriches our lives in such beautiful and important ways.
Mari Ryan: It certainly does. That’s what we want to see happening for everyone, is finding ways to enrich their lives, enrich their wellbeing, and living happy, healthy lives.
Rochelle Seltzer: Yes.
Mari Ryan: Rochelle, thank you for your insights on this important link of what employers can do in the workplace to foster creativity, how it links to wellbeing, and if folks watching this video today want to follow up with you and learn more about your work, where can they find more information?
Rochelle Seltzer: I have a website, it’s rochelleseltzer.com. I invite you to come and look at it, there is some information about the work I do with individuals in my coaching, the work that I do with groups, the work that I do with teams and companies, and if anybody has questions, I also always welcome conversation.
Mari Ryan: Wonderful. Thank you for being here today. Thank you for sharing your time with our audience. It was delightful, as always, to spend time with you.
Rochelle Seltzer: Thanks, Mari.
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