At last Friday’s CreativeMornings/Charlotte gathering, we explored our September theme of “Compassion” along with 172 fellow chapters around the world. Here at home, our speaker was Nelson Morales, a Mexican photographer and current Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. His work focuses heavily on the Muxe of Oaxaca – people who identify as a “third gender” and live in one of the few places in the world accepting of their culture.
We chose Nelson because he shows us that creativity can serve a powerful role in building compassion for others – in particular, those who are different from us. Each click of his camera is a gorgeous gesture of compassion for people who are “other.” Over time, Nelson found himself stepping in front of his own compassionate lens to pose alongside the Muxe people – ultimately (and bravely) facing his own emerging identity as Muxe.
Our guest from Mexico got me thinking about life and leadership right here at home: Could creativity be the most underused resource of our society? As exhibited (or not) by those in positions of power and policy-making, I think so. Nelson’s story demonstrates that creativity can unlock our ability to see and understand others. Imagine what’s possible if it’s wielded by those who choose to serve others. What would happen if we demanded more creativity from our leaders?
To be clear, when I refer to “creativity,” I don’t necessarily mean paint sets and brush strokes. It could be those things, but this distinction is also where many folks get tripped up – confusing “creative” with “artistic.”
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At CreativeMornings, we believe that everyone is creative. We were all born with creativity wired into our DNA, but for some of us, it was never nurtured. For others, it has slipped away. And so hundreds of Charlotteans emerge from behind their devices once a month to gather together in real life and celebrate our innate creativity and the creative spirit of our city. As a result, we find ourselves becoming more creative in the ways we do our work, or run our businesses, or raise our families, or hack our lives.
I’ve loved seeing some of the current mayoral and city council candidates attending CreativeMornings/Charlotte events. Not stumping, but just being there to connect, get inspired and participate in championing the best that our citizens have to offer.
Now that we know what our November ballot will look like, I call upon our political leaders – and those vying for these positions – to surprise us with your proposals and solutions. You have an opportunity to show us bravery and compassion through your creative thinking – to put forth a daring “We've tried that, what if we tried this now?”
Don’t worry, you’re not on your own to wow us; you can embrace a key tenet of creativity – collaboration – to generate those gamechangers.
Candidates, can you – like Nelson Morales – use creative approaches to experience new perspectives, to see the world through another’s eyes? Before pushing policies that will directly affect the lives of others, you must try to deeply understand those people first. Creativity can be a portal into such understanding.
These are not small things; they are vulnerable and courageous acts, the stuff that true leaders are made of, because unveiling our creativity is synonymous with showing the world our purest self. But also, I believe that such creative fearlessness should be a prerequisite for the roles you seek.
In our increasingly polarized world, if indeed everyone is creative, that also means we have something in common. And that's not nothing. That’s something. A place to start coming together.