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Creativity Takes Courage

One of the great paradoxes in business and life involves creativity. Although we respect creativity—including those who are most successful at being creative—we tend to sidestep creativity in general because it means change. And change isn’t always easy.

As we begin the 2014 calendar year, we might remember achievement requires more than simply “being creative.” To succeed in business— and in life—we need to be as strategic as we are creative, and that means practicing two additional key characteristics:

  • The willingness to see risk as “normal”
  • The ability to see failure for what it truly is: a step closer to the real solution

Incorporating the second characteristic into our creative ideas is essential, both for us and for those who decide whether our suggestions move forward. As we find new ways to expand student enrollment, academic programs, and brand understanding at Northwood, we need to be able to answer two important questions.

First, “Does everyone involved recognize the goal and the potential challenges of this proposal?” If not, take time to make sure everyone has a clear and consistent understanding of the proposal.  In some cases, “No,” really means “You haven’t helped me understand why I should say ‘yes’ yet.”

Second, “What is the alternate plan?” Although a creative idea may have all the merit in the world, it’s important to have “version 2” ready to go in case “version 1” doesn’t make the cut. “Version 2” may not be perfect, but neither is life and business.  Both are the art of the possible, and today may not be the right time to implement the ideal plan. By having another concept of a creative proposal ready to go, you ensure momentum in in the right direction and set yourself up for more success in the future.

As the French painter and sculptor Henri Matisse observed, “Creativity takes courage.” Let’s make certain we keep this in mind as we venture forth to realize all the hope and promise of our work and mission in 2014.

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D. President and CEO Northwood University 4000 Whiting Drive Midland, MI 48640 989.837.4203

Creativity Requires Action