Why Do Our Politicians Suck at Creativity?

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Synopsis

Are attack ads and negative campaigning the very thing killing our political leaders creativity? The parties responsible may surprise you.

If there was ever a group that could benefit from a creative infusion, it would be the US Federal Government, yet year after year the same broken methodology seems to prevail. As much as we love to criticize and attack them for their seemingly incompetent problem solving skills, could our very attacks be causing a chain reaction, killing any and all creativity?

Since shooting your political opposition isn’t acceptable in this country anymore, negative attacks and character assassination are the go to option, comprising of 70% of all political advertising. Surprisingly, these ads don’t damage the campaigns of their political targets. Instead, this negative approach is causing collateral damage to something else entirely, creativity in government.

Leaders are creativity starved, constantly on the lookout for the next hot idea and politicians are no different. In fact, if there is ever an industry ripe for creativity, it’s our own government, but you probably aren’t going to see congress turn into a creative culture. At least, not for a long time.

Creative ideas don’t come easily. In fact, creativity is remarkably scary. It only happens when people are willing to try new things and fail, but not just one failure, or even two. The best creative solutions, of which we are in desperate need, will likely take a dozen, a hundred, or in James Dyson’s case, a few thousand failures to solve real problems. For creative solutions to make their way to surface, failure must be endured with no assurances of outcome. It’s probably for this reasons Henri Matisse said “Creativity takes courage.”

Consider Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Both are highly respected creative business men, but both are also epic failures. A quick search engine query will turn up Branson’s Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka, both of which went bust. Even Steve Jobs, had a strikingly large amount of disasters. His NeXT company failed along with the Apple Newton, Pippin and Lisa. (You probably have no idea what those even are) So, what would happen if these men ran for President? Would we run attack ads on their failures or remember them for their success?

It’s not that our government leaders don’t want creative solutions. They certainly do. PEW research has even shown that voter interest in new ideas has risen since last March, with over half the entire country placing more value on “new ideas” than experience!

But put yourself in their shoes. Can you create and think of new ideas when your boss is staring down on you, ready to fire you for any misstep? Of course not! We wouldn’t have the Dyson vacuum if James Dyson had a boss that fired him after the first failed prototype. In fact, we wouldn’t have any innovative products at all. Every creative solution has come about through trial and error amassing piles of useless ideas and failures.

But we expect our political leaders to get it right, the first time every time. We also expect them to change the entire world and to do it quickly. Yet, the research shows that creativity is utterly destroyed under the gun. And our stupid expectations are taking their toll. 

Political polarization is at an all time high since 1994, but what is troubling is that both Democrats and Republicans view the other side as a threat to the country, instead of viewing them for who they really are: A group of leaders that want peace, prosperity and freedom for the American people.

It’s alarming it has come to this. 

Politicians have been trained over the years that new ideas are dangerous. They’ve been trained not to stick their neck out. They’ve been trained to avoid new ideas. They’ve been trained to avoid risks. They’ve been trained to protect their re-election chances by avoiding any and all failure or any solutions that have long term implications. 

They’ve been trained by you and me, the voters, that failure is not on the table. And if failure is not on the table, creativity isn’t either. We have killed creativity in our own government.

This piece originally appeared on JustinBrady.me. Make sure to sign up to get constant resources on creativity and how to cultivate it. (Don’t worry, I always keep it short)

Tags: election, justin brady, leadership, politics

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