Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Larry Robertson: Questioning the Givens of Creativity (Episode 131)

Larry Robertson: Questioning the Givens of Creativity (Episode 131)


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Topics We Explored:

  • Larry Robertson, author and thought leader, joins Charlie to jam about creativity.

  • In this episode, they cover everything from what creativity is, to where breakthroughs come in, to unhelpful myths that prevent us from understanding and accessing our creativity.

  • They mulled over the roles space and time have for the creative process, and the different modes of creativity.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

About Larry Robertson:

Larry Robertson is an innovation advisor who works, writes, and guides at the nexus of creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurship. He’s the author of 3 award-winning books: A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress, and The Language of Man. Learning to Speak Creativity, and his latest, Rebel Leadership: How to Thrive in Uncertain Times (check out its rave reviews). As founder of Lighthouse Consulting, he has for three decades guided organizations and their leaders through uncertainty, change, and growth to lasting success. A popular columnist and speaker, in 2021, he was named a Fulbright Scholar, a rarity for non-academic professionals.

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Episode Timestamps

[0:56] - Charlie gives an introduction to Larry Robertson.

[3:50] - Through his previous experiences in various roles in the entrepreneurial universe, Larry started noticing a pattern of people wanting to know “what is entrepreneurship?” His first book was a pull back to explore how entrepreneurship fits into a larger picture, and what is behind entrepreneurship: creativity.

[7:51] - Charlie and Larry talk about the tension between the context of business and a context outside of business. How can we look outwards from the limited focus of our domains of expertise to invite other elements into our business practices?

[11:07] - One of the keys to creativity is that is it variable - things (and you!) are going to change with time and circumstances. When we lean into this change, it can be quite uncomfortable - when we realize that this is part of the process, it can actually invite more moments of creativity.

[14:46] - Creativity is something we often seek out when we are in a pinch. Larry’s book approaches creativity from the opposite perspective. Rather than thinking of where creativity ends, he encourages focus on where it begins and the process that it flows through.

[17:02] - Charlie talks about his concept of slow magic: sometimes the work that matters the most happens slowly.

[22:06] - Continuing this idea of a slow build versus lightning strikes, Larry talks about creativity being an accumulation. How can we lead ourselves toward that accumulation that leads to the big idea?

[23:42] - Stu Coffman’s  concept of the adjacent possible: sometimes the biggest breakthroughs come from just moving to the edges of what you know. When you look back on the world you know, you can’t help but see it differently. Finally, when you explore the adjacent possible, you make the possible bigger.

[27:27] - When you’re trying to figure out how to move forward with your next big idea, the trick is to immerse yourself into the work being done in not just your field, but also in the fields where your expertise overlaps with your other interests. Allow yourself to fall into this space and find those happy accidents.

[32:55] - Charlie talks about the importance of having a community of people with varied interests, passions, and expertises, and interacting with that community. This community lends itself to the idea of creativity as a co-creation.

[36:58] - We have to be ready for interaction with a creative community. Larry talks about ways we can prepare ourselves on an individual level before we start to become part of a co-creation.

[40:15] - Five habits of the mind: 1. How do you know what you know? 2. Is there a pattern? 3. Ask “what if” questions 4. Is there another way of looking at it? 5. Who cares? Charlie shares some of his questions of the mind as well.

[46:18] - Asking these questions, both in a personal and a professional context, can confirm that you’re on the right track or bring attention to something that could be changed for the better. These can be guided by the three acts of creation: choice, reaction, and improvisation.

[49:22] - How do we actionize the three acts of creation? When all three modes of creation are on the same plane, we can think about where we are on the matrix and how we can lean into those modes. We can also apply these modes in different contexts and situations.

[55:16] - We all have all three acts of creation. It is important to not think of them as a hierarchy, but to work to constantly move between them so you can develop them all.

[58:11] - Larry leaves us with this challenge: “The perpetual obstacle to human advancement is custom”: What are your customs that are getting in the way of your own advancement?

Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.