Creative Tension – Part 1B of 7

“The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams.” —W. Arthur Porter

Too often we get wrapped up in the here and now, the day-to-day, and we don’t take the time to take a step back and look at who we are and who we have become. We often overlook the messages that are telling us to get out of our rut and try something different, even uncomfortable. Or maybe we just need to get back to who we really are. Exploring these messages is where we can find inspiration that often leads to the creative tension that becomes our pivot point of innovation. That chance to actively make a change.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

This pivot point is what happened when I was asked by Jeff to collaborate for this series. The discomfort was in the sharp reminder that I had traveled away from my own desire to inspire others to grow through what I have learned and experienced. To leverage my strengths to help others embrace theirs. So here I am at my pivot point.

My inspiration is often what I read. What I’ve discovered about my reading is that there is often a purpose for what I’m drawn to depending on what is happening in my life at that time, personal and professional. And there is almost always a level of learning involved with the purpose of taking that learning and sharing with others. As a friend and colleague told me some time back, I’m a natural information curator. So as I was thinking about creative tension and the connection of this to how we can each embrace this tension for the development of our own unique talents, I was reminded of an article I read several years ago.

This article, Why we need to let kids be creative, encourages letting children “play” and experience their world in their way (with guidance) to creatively solve the problems they encounter. The problem the toddler solves in figuring out how to get to the cookies on the counter, or the coveted toy from a playmate, develops the capability that could lead to the next technology, or social media innovation 20 years later. As the parent, and leader, responsible for that “child”, it’s our responsibility to nurture the creativity that leads to capability – even for ourselves.   What we, as leaders today, should encourage is:

  • Engage in divergent thinking – a key to problem solving and a foundation of creativity – understanding what is, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be.
  • Play with others – this teaches us how to negotiate group dynamics and cultivate creative-thinking skills.
  • Take time for free play – when you take a break from gathering data, you allow your brain to loosely explore and reconfigure information.

Over the course of this series I will engage in some divergent thinking and take time to play with others (Thanks, Jeff!). And I will encourage you to do the same. The beauty of this journey is that even though we may not have a map, our world will be richer and the potential for innovation will be greater because we each bring our own unique strengths and perspective as we explore this together. To help guide us, I’ll be pulling from my learning, and library, of strength-based development, such as Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut books. In these books, we are introduced to an assessment that is an “innovation delivery system” designed to help reveal our edge. While invention is an idea, even a novel idea, innovation is “novelty that can be applied.” Innovation is what keeps us relevant.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of


And so like the wild flowers I used to pick as a young girl, I’ll pick and share some ideas and practical tips to help us be relevant, even beautiful, as we discover our edge and explore together what it means for us to…

Gather ~ Give ~ Grow.


Jennifer Rainey "Natural Information Curator"

Jennifer Rainey

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

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Through the Door of Possibility


Trust and Innovation (Innovative Trust)

There is innovation; and there is trust. There is the freshness of thought in true innovation. There is the confidence of fearless trust. What do we have when innovation and trust join?

In this young 21st Century, we experience the impact of innovation vividly in our daily lives. Unfortunately for us, both individually and collectively, we do not consistently experience the impact of trust with the same regularity.

Innovation can be strangled when we are imprisoned in a perpetual reactive structure. True individual innovation is achieved only as one gets calm and thinks. The currency of relational trust is embezzled by the reactive behavior encouraged in the same strangling structure. Fearless trust is achieved by the same practice of calmness and thought.

The combination of calmness and thought is a gift to one’s self and a commitment to those led, influenced, and served. From this gift, and through this commitment, you are able to join innovation and trust for a transformational confidence.

So, what do you have when you allow innovation and trust to join?

To remain calm, collected and clear in the midst of collective anxiety is to be a leader. -Jeffrey A. Miller in The Anxious Organization

A Narrative Community

Inside our stories, there is community.

The marketplace is demanding that we burn the policy manuals and knock off the incessant memo writing; there’s just no time. It also demands we empower everyone to constantly take initiatives. It turns out stories are a – if not the – leadership answer to both issues. –Tom Peters, in Re-imagine!

What if we advanced into a space rich with individual creativity and collective innovation?

What might the story become with obstructions to individual performance removed while leaving our uniqueness whole?

Would this be transformation; the telling of our true story?

Moving into the space of this story – the telling of this story – is not possible without you! Operating together with a shared set of values, we find a sense of community. As we live in light of our individual values, we create a culture of trust. The free-flowing uniqueness of the individual is the structure for the narrative of community.

There are 3 Acts to our 21st Century story of trust – our community:

ACT I – Communicating for Trust

ACT II – Coaching for Trust

ACT III – Committing to Trust

In ACT I, we create a common understanding of how the world of work is evolving. We deepen the New Conversation as we explore the new relationship between the individual and the method of management in this evolving work and thus complete ACT II.

In ACT III, you are empowered in the trust story; a narrative and community made complete by your participation.

A New Conversation

When it comes to the moment of truth, both the organization and the individual are equally afraid of the creativity, the passion, and the courage that accompany those powers hidden within them and that are central to their vitality. This meeting place of creative anticipation and fearful arrival is the elemental core of a new conversation in the workplace. –David Whyte in Crossing the Unknown Sea

Is our world of work falling-in around us, or is it simply changing? If it is changing – and it most definitely is – is it evolving in spite of us? Or is it evolving because we have made a collective choice for it to evolve?

In the trust project where I am partnering with my long-time client, the leader has made a statement – a commitment – indicative of her understanding of this new world of work in the 21st Century: “I cannot guarantee you employment, but I can guarantee you employability … if you’re willing to participate in a new conversation.”

This leader’s commitment represents the coming together of 21st Century reality with timeless wisdom. This statement is founded in the truth of personal accountability; an ancient truth that reminds us of the reality of where change begins. Richard Barrett describes evolution as doing different things versus doing things differently. Doing different things requires each of us to reach deep within for the power necessary for this innovative evolution.

If we collectively choose conscious evolution, then we must also choose behavior that substantiates our individual recognition of business realities and our common story that has brought us to this moment. We cannot fail to acknowledge the importance of the past or the reality of the present. They are not separate from the desired, different, or new story. There is no new, different, or desired story without intentional acknowledgement and realism.

To join in the unfolding story is to participate in a new conversation with personal integrity intact and active.