I’m reading Adam Grant‘s book “Think again.” He speaks, among other things, about ‘confident humility; he defines it like this: “Confident humility is knowing how little you know and how much you’re capable of learning.”
This sounds like a confirmation of yesterday’s post concerning the Learning orientation creative leaders may cultivate, doesn’t it? It also sounds like quite a few of the points I listed in the original post on creative leadership. It got me thinking about Abraham Lincoln and his leadership legacy.
Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke about him in these words in her 2008 Ted talk: “he possessed an uncanny ability to empathize with and to think about other people’s points of view. He repaired injured feelings that might have escalated into permanent hostility. He shared credit with ease, assumed responsibility for the failure of his subordinates, constantly acknowledged his errors, and learned from his mistakes.”
Lincoln seems to me to be the best example of confident humility in leadership.
The thing is, in art and creation, humility is a rare thing.
It takes courage and constant risk-taking to put your work into the world; that goes well with confidence, that’s true. The thing is, you’re not born that way, and even if you do acquire the needed courage early in your artistic career, you still may suffer from imposter syndrome. I’m pretty sure creative confidence is not an easy thing to develop, and even if you do, it’s a fleeting thing; it can go away as soon as it comes. So how can you get to it, and how can it be cultivated and fostered?
Creative confidence needs to stand the test of time. You need to go through a lot of resistance before being confident enough to “dare greatly” in your creative endeavors. I think the most important cornerstone is the meaning your creative work holds for you. The ‘Why’ behind your ‘what.’ If you have a true purpose in your work, it will drive you forward, even if you’re not completely clear on what it is yet.
“Art from the heart,” as Jurriaan calls it, is a good rule of thumb to follow. It’s true for any creative effort in any field.
Then, when your work gets feedback, your efforts are appreciated, you start getting funding, possible rewards, and praise, and your creative confidence grows. You know, at least until the next creation, that you may have been on the right path. But, as Adam Grant says, you can always think again.
In this sense, I always found that what helped me in fostering and cultivating my creative confidence was my team. People choose to work with you because of who you are and what you do. They decide to join your purpose and live by it, at least for a while you share your path. They are the best confidence boosters in the daily scheme of things.
They can only be that, if you listen to what they have to say. A team is a great way to ask questions and think again. A great team will not spare important feedback during the creative process; thus, at the same time they boost your confidence, they also keep you humble.
I guess then, the answer is yes, creative, confident humility is possible, quite rare, but possible!
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