There are a lot of similarities between managing a company and organising an expedition to the Pole. Problemsolving, motivating people, guide them and make them cooperate, push boundaries, create a vision, mission and strategy, cope with change... the analogies are endless. In short, ‘business creativity’ is real close to ‘expedition creativity’. And that’s why we went to have a chat with Flanders most famous polar explorer to hear what creativity means to him. Dixie Dansercoer, a man close to our heart because of his passion and integrity, shared six worthwhile insights with us.
1. Making your dreams come true demands creativity and persistance
Each new expedition starts with an intense creative process. That process starts with a dream. And the persistence to make that dream – or call it vision or mission – come true, despite all resistance and judgements from outside. You visualise scenarios and bit by bit, you start to filter them. In your final action plan, you have to leave room for the unexpected. Thus accepting the ‘imperfectness’ because every expedition is an adventure. That is far and foremost, your intrinsic motivation.
2. The only way is forward
A permanent and real sense of urgency keeps your creativity awake. Changing weather, a companion who is loosing confidence, an unexpected but dangerous passage... It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, these things happen. And then you prioritise. In our case it is not only about reaching our goal, but reaching it together, all of us. Yes, sometimes it is only about survival, the most down to earth answer when you have reached the last of your ‘why’ questions. Severe circumstances – and that is most likely the same in companies – force to use large doses of creativity. But at these moments, creative leadership surfaces because you are depending on each other. So it is crucial to get the best out of each and everyone.
There is so much more creativity in each of us then we think, but we need to find back that time and silence.
3. Time and silence are your best friends
They sometimes say that problems solve themselves in the end. Without doubt, that is true, but it requires time and silence. I advise everybody to just take 5 minutes of silence every day. Real silence, because we hardly know that anymore. There is so much more creativity in each of us then we think, but we need to find back that time and silence. Which you find easily when you are on the ice. And it is a luxury, I am well aware of that. Scientific research proves that humans only use 10% of their brain capacity. That is a rediculous amount. So give that brain time and space to use its maximum capacity.
4. Failing is a necessary process
Where does persistence end and does boldness start? It is a thin line that you often walk during an expedition. With the passage of years you get to know your boundaries, even though you consistently try to stretch them. Sometimes, your persistence does not bring the result that you expected, but the lessons learned will be just as usefull. That way, you build experience. Or call it wisdom. And in all
It's important to repeat your mission and vision regularly. But the path to it should be adjusted along the way too.
5. You have to celebrate successes
On the ice, walking kilometres, shouldering, hiking in extreme cold, that piercing wind. Fatigue, lonelyness and extreme circumstances can make you extremely short-tempered. It is not always easy to stay positive. That is why it is so important to celebrate when you reach a milestone. On such moments, a sip of rum or cognac can taste like heaven. But looking back together to those endeavours, the proverbial smile and tears. And looking ahead to the challenges that we are facing. While mission and vision are indisputably repeated again and again, the path to reach this mission and vision can be adjusted when unforeseen obstacles block a speedy progress.
6. Give feedback about your experiences
The richness of experiences that remain after an expedition, I like to share with people open for this. It is often about overcoming human limitations, leaving your comfortzone and solving the challeges on your path in a creative way. But also about the endless richness of nature and how to translate this to a sustainable society. Next to that, there are the pure practical experiences that create new insights and innovation: testing of new tools and materials in extreme circumstances or even the improvement of processes. A kind of continuous improvement that is fruitfull for all kind of domains.
With Dixie on the ice?
The purity and mystique of the Arctic and Antarctic areas are a tabula rasa for creative thinking. Away from any distractions and freed from overcrowded agendas, you come as a team to rest and go back to basics. Are you hot enough for braving the cold with Dixie? Be sure to take a look at www.polarexperience.com and www.polaroffsites.com.