A crisis causes stress and fear. But you know what else crisis does? It ignites creativity.
Remember the scene in Apollo 13 when they dumped all equipment on the table and tasked the engineers to fit a square peg in a round hole or the astronauts would die? They did it.
Right now, we not only have a world turned upside down that needs some solutions, we also have the rarest of gems: time to sit back and think.
In 1666, while the plague was raging in London, Isaac Newton socially distanced himself and stayed at his mother’s house. With time to think, he discovered the laws of motion, optics and invented calculus. You can trace Shakespearean plays, music through the ages and so many discoveries back to people being forced to step off life’s treadmill.
Now is our time for creative thinking. Faced with something we’ve never seen, we have no clear idea of what the next three months or year will bring. With no blueprint on how to proceed, we must create a new one and rise to the occasion.
Fear leads to fearlessness
In ordinary times, people are often afraid to try new strategies because they fear judgment. We’re constrained by so many rules (written and unwritten) to make sure we do things “the way they’ve always worked in the past.” But in a crisis, all the old barriers disappear. When a crisis hits, we need and welcome new, more creative thinking. Unreasonable rules about what you can and can’t do, who you can talk to or what areas you can explore are eliminated. Look at our brilliant medical community, that is looking for ways to test drugs approved for other purposes on COVID-19. They are exploring new ways of creating vaccines more quickly. Companies like Dyson are re-thinking respirators. Who knows what Tesla will come up with? We’re all challenged to find better ways of doing things and we will.
It all starts with one question
A crisis makes you think, “What can I do?” And people are answering it in a myriad of ways. A lot of people are making masks for people on the front lines. They’re using material they had at home and shaking off the rust of their sewing skills. I see videos of people who would never have dreamed of making a video giving advice, showing off dance moves, singing and cheering up their friends on social media.
People are reaching out to each other like never before. Friends and families in different parts of the world who hardly ever see each other are now enjoying cocktails and dinner together on a regular basis.
Our friends at Midtown Alliance wanted to help keep the spirit of their community up and working with them we created engaging signs and sidewalk decals to brighten up their spirits and create a playlist of inspiring songs. Soon, we will be producing Midtown backgrounds for Zoom meetings.
So, what’s next?
The short answer: anything. Right now, there are probably brilliant interior designers and architects coming up with ways for people to sit in a restaurant and be safe from others who might be contagious.
I was one of 70,000 people who watched the Indigo Girls play on Facebook live. When someone asked them what was the biggest audience they’d ever played for, they said, “this one.” Who knows what that might mean for artists in the future? Playhouses are always limited by the number of seats they can fill; not anymore. In the coming years, people who love live theater will be able to watch it from home. This expands a theater company’s reach, revenue and popularity.
The bigger question is, what’s next for you? It’s tempting to feel frightened and frozen, but start by asking yourself these questions, “What do people need? How can I help?” When you find an audience to serve with your skills, your mission will become clear.
To get your creative thinking started, we made a creative brief template for you to download for free. If you’d like I will even walk you through it and help you fill it out for free. Let’s get your creativity going and start to create what the new world will be together.
Creative Outhouse, Founder & Executive Creative Director
Host, Marketing Upheaval podcast