By Hedges Capers, Partner Emeritus     (Fall 1993)

Creativity is the driving force of history. All of art and culture, including the entire array of modern technology, is the product of creative individuals. Creativity is the father of artistic, scientific, and business innovation; it is what makes life worth living.

Creativity is centered on love – but not love as we usually use the term. Creating is an act of passion. When a creator begins, the object of his love does not exist. Often, it is not even a formed idea – it’s just a glimmer. A creator is able to love that glimmer and bring it into existence.

This creative kind of passion is what successful leaders of high-growth companies feel for their businesses; they love their companies and want to create and build their companies for the company’s own sake. That love for a business which doesn’t yet exist – and the drive to grow it in unexpected, perhaps, unimaginable directions – is the essence of entrepreneurship. It is creativity.

This powerful create force is subtle, but it is not mysterious. By learning the following points of the creative process, you can awaken a mighty power within yourself. As we see it, the process of harnessing your creative power illustrates the highest, best, and most effective use of a 40-foot straw.

Step 1: Conceive! Dream!
What are you going to create? What will it do and what will be unique about it?

Step 2: Focus your vision.
Pick up your straw and focus it on your foal. Make your image of the end result specific and tangible. Learn enough about your goal that you would recognize it if you saw it.

Step 3:  Find what’s missing.
Don’t start planning yet. Put the straw down and step back to look around at what you already have. How close are you to the goal? What is missing? What obstacles and barriers exist? In the creative lives of artists, inventors, and composers, this broad perspective is just as important and useful as focus.

Step 4:  Act.
Once you have established a structural tension by identifying the gap between where you are and your vision, the path to achievement will be easy to see. Pick up that 40-foot straw and go for it!

Step 5:  Adjust, learn, evaluate, and adjust again.
Once you have taken action, put down that straw and look around you. Assessment and evaluation leads to adjustments, new actions, more learning, and new evaluations. Look for new approaches and experiment with new angles. Keep working until you finally arrive at the desired result.

Step 6:  Complete.
If the creative process is successful, it comes to an end in your completed work. You must learn to recognize when this moment has arrived, but until the work is finished, continue to focus your straw on the goal.

Step 7:  Judge.
Your creation exists. Now put down your straw and evaluate it objectively – as if you hadn’t created it. Take the time to enjoy the thrill of your own accomplishment before you begin again.

Get started today by falling in love with an idea! The times when it is most difficult to practice creativity are the times when we most need its powerful force on our side. Remember that creativity is not a mystery, but a discipline to be practiced. All you need is a 40-foot straw!