The Drivers of Creativity: Viewing Your Limitations as Assets

March 24, 2014

creativity2When was the last time you thought about your nonprofit’s work and said, “If we only had more [fill in the blank], we could [fill in the blank].”

Some of us run that script through our subconscious minds throughout the day.

As we talk with local nonprofit executives and board members, we hear a lot of this:

  • We don’t have the budget.
  • We don’t have the volunteers.
  • We don’t have the staff.
  • We don’t have the technology.
  • We don’t have the space.
  • We don’t have the time.

Oh yes, the list goes on!  It is natural to feel constrained by the limitations of our tiny budgets and the time available to us, especially in the face of the complex issues our nonprofit organizations are tackling.

What might be possible for your organization if you started viewing your limitations differently?

In your work addressing homelessness, mental illness, feral cats, seniors without heath care, Parkinson’s Disease–whatever it might be–consider the role of creativity. Einstein said that the problems existing in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.

I recently read a Forbes article, “Creativity: How Constraints Drive Genius” by David Sturt, executive VP of O.C. Tanner. The firm analyzed data from award-winning professionals in companies and found that constraints are actually a consistent driver of creativity.

Here’s what David said about creative thinkers who were motivated by obstacles:

“They solved problems. They overcame hurdles. And, they made a difference that someone loved. Constraints give us a starting point and some building blocks to work with—a problem to solve, an innovative twist to be revealed, or a person to please. And, it doesn’t matter how tightly constrained we feel. The world is filled with amazing possibilities derived from limited resources and elements.”

Those ideas resonate with me as I consider all of the possibilities before us in the Giving Challenge.

Let’s take the limitations we face and put them to work for us, following the lead of others who have innovated out of need.  For example, if your organization is feeling inadequate in the staffing arena, consider how you can use the Giving Challenge as a tool to build and engage a volunteer force that becomes supercharged on Facebook, ready to share messages and advocate for you.

How can you use your resources–however small–to engage beyond what you thought was originally possible?

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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