by Ian Clawson
“This all sucks.”
“What major event will happen next?”
“Will this uncertainty ever end?”
Pandemic. Wars. Economic devastation. Frustration. Depression. When we think we’re done, we find ourselves right back waking up with the ongoing nightmare following us wherever we go. Looking to politics, we just see it amplified. Where do we go from here? What’s next? Our future feels less and less and less predictable. The only thing certain is change. It’s easy to feel like giving up or placing blame on someone or something.
We’re left sifting through the debris to find our way out, again and again. For most of us life has felt like we’ve been stuck inside a box leading up to this massive change. Now after the psychological tornado seems to have passed, there is no box. It’s gone.
Now we see ourselves in a more accurate yet vulnerable way: the good, the bad and the ugly. Our reality has become uncomfortably present. The ideal feels more distant than ever. We are in an existential moment of introspection.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where there is no shared vision, the people never achieve their full potential.”
Maybe it’s not about trying to find ourselves? What if our path forward is about awareness and courage? How can we own the future outcomes of our lives? Can we be brave enough to choose to work differently with others?
Stop comparing and competing. Start contributing to culture and take a good look at co-creation. How it works. How we can get better at it.
How can we respond to it all?
1. Reactive = Blame. Most reactions cause us to look externally for the cause and effect, the culprit, the catalyst. Something or someone to blame. Most situations are not that cut and dry. Yet we want to somehow frame our circumstances as black and white. Reactions usually take the shape of triggered emotions, early judgements, and victimization. We do have the power to choose. Will we become bitter, or can we get better?
2. Proactive = Responsibility. The future requires us to think and act for ourselves. With freedom comes responsibility. Being able to respond. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Likewise, if we have prepared our minds and positioned our lives to know how to act. Can we respond versus react? Growth takes us to a point where we must choose transformations over transactions. So, how can we continue to make progress while also being aligned with what truly matters?
3. Co-Creative = Connecting Dots. Co-creation means that independent people choose to create with others. A co-creator has something to offer, and they also see the gifts in others. Co-creation is about connecting ideas to ideas, people to people and ultimately ideas to people. We can set the tone for co-creation, set the conditions knowing that it takes a learning curve and takes time. We must give the proper space, effort, and patience because yes, co-creation is messy. Just because co-creation is hard doesn’t mean that our future doesn’t deserve the best we can give. How can we be more intentional to involve others? How can we bring out their best?
Here are some ways to bring co-creation to work and Life:
Reactive: Wait until you absolutely need to go to the doctor. Remember to take your pills. Eat a bit different to “not die”.
Proactive: Get serious about health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, get enough rest.
Co-Creative: Build a routine with others, join forces to exercise together and learn workout techniques, share recipes, and drive the conversation and energy with others in an inspired way. How can you become a collective force for good?
Reactive: Stick with the organization’s agenda, keep it a download session, make it a one-directional discussion to ensure participants receive the information.
Proactive: Prepare to make the meeting less dismal. Solicit topics people want to hear, encourage more engagement, try to keep things short and end meeting early.
Co-Creative: Lead with questions, build a fluid conversation, get in “the zone” together. How can you amplify the energy that emerges and shape things as one?
Reactive: Wait for things to pop up on your schedule, and deal with them as they come.
Proactive: Set a certain time each week for inventory and planning. Wake up with your “to do” list.
Co-Creative: Consider your “to be” list. Prioritize shared time with others. Identify building blocks together. Create opportunities for co-creation throughout the week when possible. How are you planning to show up?
Reactive: Wait for the boss to pull you into a conversation about results or avoid it.
Proactive: Deliver results. Prepare and plan for conversations about it.
Co-Creative: Build an ongoing conversation around impact and perception of the work. What are the collective expectations by all parties? Shape it together with your leaders.
Reactive: Ask candidates if they did homework on your organization. Why do they want to join your team? Ask questions based on how they present on their resume.
Proactive: Ask questions that challenge others to reveal new things. Find ways to tap into their passion. Shape the conversation to bring out a deep understanding about them.
Co-Creative: Inspire each other with deep insights from your hearts and minds. See if you can connect the dots on shared values. Be flexible in the moment to explore better alignment if the candidate shows great potential to become a team member. How can you craft a job or role together that makes the most sense?
Posts on Social
Reactive: Get sucked into consumer mode, scrolling for hours. See what everyone else is doing, then post the same kind of thing. Returning to posts you’ve made to see how many likes or followers.
Proactive: Share your authentic voice, looking to influence others. Focused on content creation, the quality of the message, timing of the post.
Co-Creative: Transcend the algorithms. How do you engage on other people’s posts? Are you looking to strengthen your connections and co-create with others? How can you create context with others?
Reactive: Read or listen to random things, mostly social or news. Seeking to be entertained or activities to take your mind off the things you are worried about.
Proactive: Get serious about learning, and focus on learning new skills, listening to podcasts that will help you improve, etc. Getting intentional about the kind of people you follow on social media, people you look up to, people that challenge your thinking.
Co-Creative: Build/shape new learning experiences for others (writing, teaching, book clubs, side hustles etc.), create opportunities to mentor other people. How can you position your growth so that others are lifted as well? Instead of trying to be seen as interesting, be interested in people and ideas.
Reactive: Survival mode. Move through life quickly, mostly distracted from one thing to another. Just get through the day.
Proactive: Striving mode. Be open to meditation, clearing your mind, and trusting intuition. Challenge yourself to do the things you were putting off. Learn and adjust as you go.
Co-Creative: Thriving mode. Build a connection to your soul and go deep with others. Stay true to the co-creative energy that fuels your passion and purpose. How can you follow your true north consistently?
Reactive: Setting goals scares you. What if you fail? What if people judge you?
Proactive: Have a vision, set goals, focus on planning, and go after it.
Co-Creative: Shift from goal obsession to establishing future leaning themes. Start to see the patterns in your life: How do you partner with others whenever possible (playing sports, supporting friends, starting a shared venture)? How do you continue to build deep relationships with your children or other family members?
Reactive: Aim for a three-day weekend by asking for a day off at work. When things get overwhelming at work use a sick day every once and a while.
Proactive: Plan fun things to do, and make it happen. Make it part of a routine. Activities that get your heartrate moving. Get out in nature and feel the cool air and warm sun. Maybe skip binge watching TV at night and try to get more rest at times.
Co-Creative: Build experiences with your deep self in relation to others. Things that inspire your whole soul and build relationships with loved ones. How can you shift your life from seeking to be inspired, to become more inspiring?
The future depends on us being co-creative. Proactive is good but being co-creative can bring out our very best. Getting great at co-creative living requires this mindset and is a matter of practice. Start now and watch how it powers your future to become real.
How will you be more co-creative today? This week? This year?
Ian Clawson is a co-founder at www.bravecore.co; a leadership consultancy that’s shaping the future by helping leaders be more creative and creatives be better leaders.