In & Out: Creativity & The Monaco Grand Prix

Project management tips from the pit

As I write this, Formula 1 drivers, crews, spectators and fans are gathering in Monte Carlo for the richest stop on the Grand Prix circuit. The movements of cars and drivers through the narrow, winding streets of the French Riviera’s principle rock are synchronized like tassels on a twirler’s baton.

But running the race is only half the story. The other half is written by men and women with other talents, equally crucial to the outcome of the race. They are the artists to whom the driver entrusts himself in order to stay the course to the end. They take him in when it’s time to take stock.

The yin and yang of creativity

A creative project (the creative life) is much the same. There are times for firing up the engines and getting out there. And there are times for refueling, doing your homework and getting things right. Both are required numerous times in any project, as is shifting gears between the two.

I work with all kinds of creators – people who make all kinds of things in all kind of fields. So I have observed this process at work – and in breakdown – many times through the years. Each person has particular strengths, and corresponding weaknesses as well. A visionary finds details difficult, while a caregiver may have a hard time setting boundaries.

I see creative energies split in two equal and opposing forces, like yin and yang. Together these two types of strength complete the creative process. Each of us is stronger in one of the two.

Two types of talent

1. There are those who love to plan the perfect scenario, down to the last detail. They take their time to create a perfect product, getting everything right. But when it comes to releasing the product to the market, they hit the same wall again and again. The flags are waved, the cars are underway, but they find themselves still waiting.

2. There are others who are ignited by passion and vision and the longing for speed. They hit the road quickly, and customers flock to them. But without good planning and details, their projects are often not sustainable. Perhaps the business fails; perhaps they finally realize it was not their path at all. Something derails them, and they come and go quickly.

On the creative journey, we play both roles. To win, in the creative process as the Formula 1, requires responsiveness – the ability to shift gears and move between them. How can you train for the race?

Along the way, as a girl who’s made a few turns around the block, I’ve learned a few things in life’s pit too. You have to know when to pull into the pit and when to get out on the track. You have to know how to do your research in a timely fashion and when to release the product. You have to keep in mind that the pit is always there if you need to pop back in.

Secrets of staying the course

1. Know what your strengths and weakness are.

  • Are you happier taking action and making things happen?
  • Or do you prefer working out all the details behind the scenes?

Both action and receptivity are required to build a solid project with deep roots for stability and enough leaves on it to sustain itself.

2. Create a structure for your project in advance that incorporates both receptivity and action. Plan your work and work your plan.

  • Manage your time with a timeline.
  • Manage your money with a budget.
  • Manage your human energy with a lifestyle plan.

3. Balance your weak areas.

  • Use the process to transform your weaknesses into assets.
  • Bring in a partner or collaborator whose skills complement yours.
  • Hire a coach or mentor to hold you accountable and keep you moving forward.

Moving through the stations of the Wheel of Creativity in your project (and your life), you pass back and forth between yin and yang, receptivity and action. The Wheel takes you naturally from the receptivity of Vision to the action of Exploration; back into receptivity in Incubation, and on to the action of Cultivation. And when you emerge from the creative vortex – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly – you emerge with your own wholeness as well as what you’ve created.

The win is your own life; the project is the prize.