Creativity and Flow: The Art of Mindful Creativity
Leaders are increasingly expected to nurture an environment of collaborative innovation. Some of the world’s most iconic companies are embracing creativity as a way of life. Now more than ever organizations must innovate in order to survive and succeed. Treating creativity as a form of competence that can be nurtured, this chapter focuses on the role of creativity and flow in life and leadership. It garners the view that it is leaders’ job to foster creativity. It reviews some of the mounting research that shows that creativity is very much a science. After defining creativity as person, process, and product-based, it provides a brief overview of the experience of flow as observed in the behavior of creative individuals and the anatomy of mindful creativity. It explores the relationship between mindfulness as a creative process and the concept of flow, suggesting that the meditative practice of mindfulness at once contributes to the successful attainment of both of these experiences. It concludes with reviewing the benefits of mindfulness, creativity, and flow.
This chapter utilizes the Buddhist construct of mindfulness as a framework to approach the works of Langer, a Harvard psychologist, and Csikszentmihalyi, who popularized the concept of flow. Over the years, this author has had the honor of interviewing Csikszentmihalyi and Langer. He has also had the privilege of participating in two extended mindfulness meditation retreats. This has brought added clarity to the theoretical concepts and conviction to their practical application.