7 Ways Creative Leadership Skills May Help You Win at Love
After 25 years of marriage, including a ridiculously amicable three-year separation ending in a failed divorce, successful reconciliation and subsequent still waters may be signs of a healthy relationship. And in large part, they are indicators of a happy home. I mean, after living half your life with someone, many of the differences that were mountainous in the early years wouldn’t suffice as a tiny home for ants now.
After all, there is much less to fight about when time eliminates such relationship irritants as child-rearing, clock chasing, and limited shared resources. So, eventually, it becomes much easier to navigate differences. Emotions calm down a lot. Especially when challenges to your relationship have brought you face-to-face with how much you stand to lose. You learn not to sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes.
However, if the jolt of nearly losing the love of your life lingers as a cautionary tale for avoiding the messy and complex, you may be missing out on the creative joys of love and relationship. In the face of conflict, perhaps you measure your movement to avoid making too many waves. Or, having mastered the art of checked emotions, you’ve made kind composure your new love language. In this case, you may have become too good at maintaining still waters. Presumably, if things remain steady, nothing can veer off course. Right? Wrong.
See, water—like passion — when it is flowing, is refreshing. There’s a generative nature to it. It drives change. In it, there is the promise of abundant life. But not without a bit of turmoil because things that flow and teem are often also unpredictable. They are difficult to contain. They’re disruptive.
And, let’s be honest. Unpredictable and wild are not attributes usually associated with a 25-year old marriage. In theory, we’re all proponents of passion. But not necessarily the kind of passion that disrupts our life. I mean, we all know that couples, when one or both are deeply committed to evolution and self-expression, are prone to discord — and discord often leads to divorce. Maybe it’s because, in its raw form, co-existing with our partner’s creative drive to become may feel a lot like drowning in someone else’s amniotic fluid. But the answer can never be to abort the mission of becoming; neither is tamping down the ability to feel and respond the way to go.
Yet, this does happen. In the spirit of holding it all together — and for the sake of not traumatizing the kids and dogs — we tend to be averse to interpersonal ambiguity. We want to know to whom we are married (exactly), and we want to be married to that exact person, forever and ever. Furthermore, while we may remember the feelings we felt back then, we may not be bothered to feel too much these days. And for a while, it is remarkably untaxing — it feels perfectly stable.
Yet, as creative beings, our lives are constantly changing. And, if the standing invitation is to evolve — to embrace new versions of ourselves, new ideas about the world, new people — it is debilitating to maintain a relationship intolerant of novelty or disagreement or growth or discovery.
The inconvenience of transformation may crush our dreams (“I don’t think now is a good time to discuss taking a loan to start my dream business, maybe I should wait.”).
Through apathy, we may forfeit the right to let life unfold into self-expression at the highest level (I would love to share my thoughts about [insert random topic], but I know he won’t be interested, so I don’t think it’s worth the trouble.”).
Perhaps the reward is longevity and peace with the one we love. We may agree more and fight less. But at what cost?
In a way, we will pay the ultimate price. We may lose touch with our dynamic selves. And, we may lose the opportunity to fully engage the dynamism of our loved one because they, in the interest of conformity, will learn to deny their true emerging self, too. But there’s hope; we don’t have to wilt away on the vine.
Roger Firestein is a professor of Creative Studies at SUNY Buffalo State College, a Creative Problem-Solving consultant, and author of Create in a Flash. He tells us that creative leaders behave in ways that set an environment conducive to creative flow. And, because I believe the landscape of our intimate relationships should also welcome change, I noticed that seven of them could easily apply to creative love.
Here are seven behaviors that may lead creative lovers to success:
1) Explores different ways of seeing rather than avoiding the discussion
2) Tells the truth, and avoids deception, in the name of peace
3) Welcomes the full expression of our loved one without the weight of our spin
4) Remains open to new experiences and does not resist change
5) Includes our loved one in our journey of self-discovery
6) Supports our loved one’s journey of self-discovery
7) Responds with empathy, not apathy
While there is no such thing as getting along too well, going along to get along may be stifling. The price for tipping the scale too far for comfort may mean the loss of a deeper relationship. Silence in place of genuine expression zaps our opportunity to relate to one another from our different points of view. And, to forfeit a passionate response is to douse our power to create real, unconditional love. Yet, in creative intimacy, we can flourish as individuals, passionate for personal evolution and expansion while paddling together on the lively waters of a warm communicable relationship with the one we love.