Nurse’s Week 2023 – Embracing Creativity

By: Kelly Guman, MN, RN – Yellow Brick President and CEO

Happy Nurses Week!

This month I attended the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Conference in Anaheim, CA and enjoyed attending the closing keynote, “Embrace the Shake” by Phil Hansen. He is the author of Creativity Sucks: And 30 Other Things I’ve Learned while Living a Weird, Amazing, Crazy, Creative Life  and touched every emotion during his 75-minute keynote.

The ”closer” at a national conference is presented with a myriad of roadblocks when trying to engage their target audience.  On the last day, most attendees have been at the conference for several days exploring the city, meeting with colleagues, staying up too late, and missing family and family work. They are just realizing that they need to go back to reality soon! So, essentially, they are distracted.

With that stage set, I have to say, Phil absolutely killed it. He inspired us, and I left with hope and a renewed spirit that our perceived challenges could be overcome by applying stamina and rigor. Phil is an artist whose work in his early career used the technique of microdots to create masterpieces. Each piece required hundreds or thousands of hours, precisely placing each dot to create his work. One day he woke up with a tremor in his hand and was eventually diagnosed with irreversible nerve damage from years of overuse of his hand. He went into this depressive state and gave up on his art until one day, he used creativity to “Embrace the Shake” and began experimenting with new mediums and types of art. The results were new and different art that didn’t require him to have a steady hand. He reinvented himself and his art by finding flow with new routines. He shared his story in a Ted Talk.

One of the key points I took away was that when we are young, we are encouraged to try new things and that it’s ok for us to fail. When we fall, we pick ourselves up and keep trying. As we mature, we are less comfortable failing, so we stop trying new things, often due to the fear of embarrassment or,  looking silly. Phil challenged us to “keep on, keeping on” and to stay motivated to continue to grow our skills and approach to life and work, especially when we have reached our most significant goals.

This message resonated with me as our company reached its five-year mark. We have celebrated many accomplishments (and failures) to look beyond what is comfortable and challenge ourselves to do great things! I would have never bought a book on creativity, but it is exactly what I needed to rethink my path and what comes next as we look to the next five years.

I challenge all of us to continue to try new things, fall, and get back up with a renewed spirit. Although we may not always celebrate a great win, we will learn a lot about ourselves in the process and can use those lessons for what comes next!

Cheers to being curious and creative!