• John Oliver

Diminishing vs Virtuous Returns - the difference between my rational and aesthetic lives

Working in the business world, since 2009 founding my own consultancy brand and team of associates, and building on a mix of my own business psychology research and training plus an MBA, I reflect now as to how much I was ultimately working from a heavily rational lens. Even my psychology training (certified with, a pioneer in the dynamic cognitive skills school of developmental psychology) was a robust, highly calibrated tool...but only focusing on the rational faculties. It did not cover the ego, moral or aeshetic developmental dimensions.

From my MBA in 2001, I carried out a longitudinal organisational design research project, with a book project in mind on the subject of decentralised, self-organising structures and cultures. I curated website with quantities of book and article references, and direct interviews called Organisation5point0.

BUT, the more I researched, the less I felt I knew. The more articles I read, the more references and bibliographies there were to dig deeper into. The proverbial rabbit hole, and less and less confidence of what I had to say. Travelling around the world in 2006, I visited a professor at a NZ business school who edited a journal called the "Journal for Radical Organisational Design". In his office, he waved nonchalantly to his substantial bookshelf, and said, "Forget about all these books, in the real world its far more complex than the wishful thinking of these mainly academic authors think".

It was a sinking feeling of diminishing returns, that knawed at me over so many years.

However, in my creative work, I can safely say the total opposite is true. The more I create, the more creative I become. The more I step into the unknown with my art materials, my wood materials and artefacts in nature, the more revelations come. Accidents become divinations. Errors become catalysts.

My whole being and person transformed by this sense of self-worth in being on a generative path. The redemptive powers of the creative life.

Of course, I am conscious of how my psychological make-up (behavioural profile and life experiences combined), drive me far more towards a creative archetype vs the managerial archetype (ref. clear distinctions that Jordan Peterson makes here in this interview), but I am very curious to know how many out there are repressing their creative sides.

There are of course vast parts of our societies from entrepreneurs to explorers to media and entertainment professionals who are fully inhabiting their creative sides, but what are the percentages, how many people are suffering from being in professional lives where the core of their activity is based on diminishing returns, that saps and drains?

Picture: Laura Williams

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