Creativity through Failure.

Yesterday I sat through a webinar about how to leverage your creativity and empower your employees. It was lead by a veteran of the parks and recreation industry.

She wasted our time.

I know.

Harsh. Scandalous. 

If you’re going to have your staff sit through an hour long powerpoint presentation then give actionable insight. Provide more than quotes by famous people that are dead and talk about unrelated things. 

But from someone else’s failure, you get benefits. 

See, it wasn’t a total loss. She verified a few things that we already know.

You can be creative.

You can teach effectively and lead your staff well.

The powerpoint’s main thesis was that you should “empower” your employees by giving them freedom to make creative choices. 

Give authority and leeway to your staff so you can let them be creative and come up with exciting solutions. 

But….. how?

Set limits.

Do you know why I come up with so many different games and activities for developmental swimming? 

I do it a lot. 

I also have set limits: a small 4 lane 20 yard pool. A whiteboard, a tv, and a smattering of toys.

Yet I have near autonomy over how we master a skill. I have the trust and confidence of my team to teach swimming. 

Children want to be stimulated.

They want to be challenged.

They want to be given something that isn’t immediately understood or easy to accomplish. 

They want to struggle.

They want to succeed. 

When you are confronted by limits, by restrictions, but given the opportunity to approach a task to find a solution within those boundaries your creativity soars!You start finagling ways to accomplish your task while remaining inside the constraints you have. 

Give a goal. Let them think.

Once your staff is trained give them a specific goal.

“Work on side breathing with Jonny today. Do something different. Use the tools you have. You have 10 minutes. Go.” 

Encourage your staff to do something outside of your normal routine. If they know the progressions, if they know the standard format that we teach then they might do something boring and revert to that. 

Step in and encourage them to “do something new.” 

Foster safe failure.

We learn through failure.Let your staff fail. After the lesson debrief and review what went well and what succeeded. 

Encourage your teachers to do something different each lesson, review it with the manager or you, and next lesson reiterate on it. 

If we “empower” our staff with opportunity and trust to accomplish a task without nit-picking minutia they’ll be able to be creative!

How do you encourage “creativity?”

Better swimming.
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