Ben Davis recently wrote about technical difficulties with The Bay Lights art exhibit on the Bay Bridge. He started by sharing an anecdote about how, when he worked as a waiter at a restaurant, he used to turn botched orders into “opportunities to forge deeper connections with customers”:
I learned a few powerful lessons:
1. Acknowledge the problem
2. Take responsibility for the solution
3. Apologize sincerely
4. Address the issue
5. Offer something extra special—on the house
By staying calm, positive, solution-oriented and generous, I found that upset diners often became loyal regulars, even personal friends. A moment of dissatisfaction, respectfully and graciously handled, bonded us more deeply than had no issue occurred. We all hate it when things go wrong, yet hearts are won when someone truly works hard to make things right again.
This is a beautiful description of how and why to be accountable.
Last week, my friend, Elissa Perry, a poet and a leadership consultant, asked me how my recent foray into “creative processes” was affecting how I thought about my work. She was referring specifically to my photography dabblings, but I was confused at first. I didn’t understand her distinction between “creative processes” and “my work,” because I always thought those two things were one and the same.
Both my sisters are “artists” in the more traditional sense. My older sister is a violinist married to a composer. My younger sister got her MFA in creative writing, although she is now a practicing lawyer. While their mediums of choice are different from mine, I don’t see my work as being substantially different from theirs.
I was in the business of designing experiences that facilitated high-performance collaboration. I used the same creative muscles that my sisters did to do their work, and I got to express myself in the process. My work stimulated me intellectually from solving a problem and emotionally from being creative. Like all art, the process of creation was sometimes a frustrating grind, but it was overall a wonderful, joyful experience. I’m feeling it right now as I design the next iteration of Changemaker Bootcamp.
A few years ago, I came across the term, “social artist,” from Nancy White to describe this kind of work. I haven’t quite adopted it for myself, but I think it’s an apt description.
As for Elissa’s original question, here are some recent musings about how my photography has affected my other creative processes:
And this is a great excuse to share some of Elissa’s artistry. At last week’s wonderful Creating Space X conference, the notions of “bridging” came up several times, so Elissa treated us to a poem that she wrote that was inspired by the new Bay Bridge. It’s part of a collection entitled, “Everything Indicates.”