Aug
27

Creativity and the Meaning of Work

By Linda Naiman Creativity at Work

Today we are experiencing a revolution in the workplace. Not only are institutions and huge conglomerates crumbling around us, our traditional ideas about work itself are dissolving. As a society we are undergoing a radical change in the way we think of work. We are starved for meaning and purpose in our lives, and with the breakdown in job security in the corporate world, we are no longer willing to separate our values from our work.

There is a yearning to align life purpose with work to make it meaningful. The Buddhists call this Dharma, spiritual work, the vehicle for Spirit to express its blessing. It is both inner work, remembering our true Self, and outer work, the expression of our unique talents and role in the evolution of humanity. Work is meaningful when we add to the quality of life to those around us. Work is a vehicle for our creations to be a blessing to the world.

Understanding the nature of creativity and how to develop it at the personal and organizational level will help us create the world we want. My vision is for the artists, mystics, scientists, and leaders in business to collaborate in using the convergence of science, technology, art, and spirituality to create a renaissance in the next millennium.

Understanding the cycles of creation will help us thrive in change, rather than to fear it. Developing our imagination, the language of the soul, allows Spirit to work through us as we answer our calling. Work has historically been thought of as a job. The word “job” originates from the Middle English jobbe, meaning “mouthful.”

We’ve worked to eat, dreaming of escape, while real life happened on the weekend. For most people work has been thought of as a disease or imprisonment. Historically, 90 percent of people have lived and worked as peasants. When machines were introduced 200 years ago, our lives were ruled by time clocks and jobs.

For most, the supposedly liberating jobs of the industrial revolution drained humanity of its spirit. The worker was dehumanized of energy and not particularly required to think, let alone dream or imagine. For the masses, it was life in the dead zone.

The industrial revolution spawned the Information Age. With technology as king, it was supposed to save us from the drudgery of work and allow more time for leisure. However, the system itself had not changed. Work was still based on the old model of masculine values: logic, linear time, and linear thinking.

Work was about consumption, security, status, domination, and control. Work was based on fear. The problem with the old model of work was that it had no heart, no soul, and no connection with human values.

We are now moving from the Information Age into the “age of brainware” or “creation intensification,” according to the Nomura Research Institute of Japan. Microsoft is an example of creativity in action. Like many companies born in the Information Age, it is constantly reinventing itself, dissolving old ideas and creating new models and new forms. “Microsoft’s only factory asset is the human imagination,” declared The New York Times in 1991.

One of the problems with creativity is that it tends to be chaotic and messy. It grows in a non-linear fashion, like an unruly visitor in the controlled environment of the boardroom. We need to learn to shift our thinking, to work with chaos, because we can no longer avoid it.

Chaos is part of the cycle of transition and thus transformation. Embedded in chaos are the clues to a higher order. I believe we fear change because there is a belief that time is linear, and at the end of time is chaos; the Anubis of the gateway of the Great Abyss.

We have forgotten in our modern urbanized world that time is cyclical, and we can transform our lives through change. Nature itself is an example of constant birth, growth, death, and renewal. Ancient wisdom through myths such as the story of Persephone and Demeter teaches us about loss and renewal and the cycle of creation. Understanding these cycles helps us overcome fear as we evolve.

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