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The Creativity Paradox


By Kelly Mathews

I have heard so many times, when it comes to faith, business, politics, or nearly any other human endeavor how much creativity and innovation are desired and valued in our leaders. People like Steve Jobs are held up as examples for excellence of what a successful, creative and innovative leader is when it comes to business. Yet, I have struggled as I have seen great innovations and ideas that would lead to a better world been passed over. It was enlightening to me therefore, to find out that reason for the lack of creative leadership in America is that psychological studies have found there is a sad prejudice against intuitive creative people in political and corporate America as being seen as not being effective.

I think this is because creative people’s ideas, and solutions, address problems in ways that are systemic and inclusive of the entire picture or context of a problem, as a basis for a sustainable practice, rather then reductionist and traditional models. Traditional models may seem to work while being ineffective, which is highly frustrating to innovative people. We want to overhaul the entire system and aren’t happy with putting a couple of nails and fresh paint on rotten wood in a house as long as it looks like everything is holding together. People, like Steve Jobs, see the whole thing needs an overhaul, and go for it.

And we have a thriving community of creative people here in Spokane doing just that.

Recently, I was at the release party for a new local Zine, Love and Outrage, at Boots, downtown. A throng of people were assembled to hear performance poets and social activists read political poetry. There were people there thought of as leaders in the community: Inga Laurent, Professor of Law, Liz Moore Director of PJALS, Organizer at PJALS Shar Lichty who recently ran for Mayor, Taylor Weech, on the steering committee of PJALS, Adrian Murillo, the co-editor of Love and Outrage, and many others, whose names, if I listed them here, would take up pages. The people there, that night, expressed experience, wisdom, emotions ranging from joy to frustration, fear and yes, rage. These were creative people, leaders in the community, all together, all sharing.

They reminded me that night,that we creative people are brilliant leaders in our own right. If we create the visions and dreams that sustain the world through the darkest times imaginable then we are more than capable of form our own businesses and nonprofits and leading and whatever else we need to do.


Kelly Rae Mathews

About Kelly Rae Mathews

Kelly Rae Mathews grew up in culturally and faith diverse San Diego, Calif. during the 70s and 80s before moving to Spokane in 2004. Growing up in a such a diverse environment with amazing people, led Mathews to be very empathetic and open to the insights of many different faiths, she said. She loves science fiction and this also significantly contributed to and influenced her own journey and understanding of faith and values. She agrees with and takes seriously the Vulcan motto, when it comes to faith and life, "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations." Therefore, it is no surprise she has a degree in anthropology as well as English. She has studied the anthropology of religion and is knowledgeable about many faiths.

She completed an anthropological research project on poets of the Inland Northwest, interviewing over two dozen poets, their audiences, friends, family members, and local business community who supported the poetry performances. Mathews gave a presentation on How Poets Build Community: Reclaiming Intimacy from the Modern World at the Northwest Anthropological Conference, at the Eastern Washington University Creative Symposium, the Eastern Washington University Women's Center and the Literary Lunch Symposium put on by Reference Librarian and Poet Jonathan Potter at the Riverfront Campus.

She was a volunteer minister in San Diego for about 10 years while attending college and working in various editorial positions.

Her articles, poems and short stories have appeared in Fickle Muse, The Kolob Canyon Review, Falling Star Magazine, Acorn, The Coyote Express, The Outpost and Southern Utah University News.

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One comment

  1. Interesting! Thank you. Although I sometimes wonder if Steve Jobs succeeded more because he was ruthless than because of his creativity. Bill Gates was equally ruthless, as is Warren Buffett.