So, what got me so enthused?
I really liked the first half of the Business Policy class that I'm auditing this quarter. The topic being discussed was creativity, but the concept that really appealed to me was the idea that each of us have a set of "characters" that reside within us, and that if your interactions with people were akin to a play, you could use these different characters to have the effect that you want.
For example, within each of us there is a rich set of personal characteristics e.g. in my case there is a shy "me", an ambitious "me", a studious "me", an overconfident "me", an optimistic "me", a pessimistic "me", a laid-back "me", a curios "me" etc. etc. I can make each of these "me"s a character and give it a name.
I thought this was a wonderful framework within which to think about the different qualities we have and how none of them are really bad (in fact each could be useful at some point.) However, any of these can appear "on stage" at the wrong time and have a harmful effect. The effective leader would know how to marshal these traits/characters and bring them "center-stage" or keep them "back-stage" as required. It also recognized that there was characters which we may not be aware of or even acknowledge (such as our "Angry Character" or "Insecure character") and that the danger lay in not recognizing them.
I'm obviously not doing as effective a job of illustrating the usefulness of thinking in this manner as Prof. Davis did, and there were a couple of skeptics in the class. However I do hope I end up using this approach, simply because I think it has the potential to make interactions so much more effective, and quite frankly, fun.
The second half of the class had a jazz musician discuss how he approaches creativity, and how that might be relevant to us. Some of the stuff I'd heard before (like creativity needs constraint/structure), but what stayed with me is the idea that true creativity needs time and effort. More importantly, the effort needs to be directed at immersing oneself in the subjec,t and not at directly coming up with the "creative" answer. For that, you just needed to give it time...and needed to get comfortable with the tremendous uncertainty of that approach.
While my first reaction was obviously I'd be uncomfortable with that approach, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it's worked in the past for me: especially when I wrote the few short stories that I did, the key was getting started and keeping at it...it always worked out and I invariably surprised myself with the flow. Quite often the same worked for work as well: often an excellent solution that I hadn't thought of up front would seemingly present itself while I'd been working for a while. It seems like striking the right balance between this freewheeling approach and planning ahead; and getting comfortable with the idea that this process just may take time sometimes is the the key.