Compliance vs. Creativity

If you haven’t read the previous post, I would encourage you to read it first, as there is a little background there that relates to this post. If you don’t want to read the previous post, that’s okay, this one will still make sense.

There is a term in coaching used often. Players are encouraged to “be coachable”. Without going into great detail (read the previous post), many coaches, I believe, hide behind this noble sounding phrase, as they demand compliance from their players. The goal then, becomes, not to develop players and people who know how to interact well with coaches/bosses/authority and work well within the constructs of a team, all good skills to develop, but rather, to have players do what they say without challenge. Not all coaches do this, mind you, but many have taken a useful skill and manipulated it so that it is self-serving. Essentially, rather than cultivating or allowing creativity, they have instead chosen to focus on compliance.

The problem is, compliance doesn’t breed confidence, it crushes creativity. I’m not an anarchist or anything, though I did recently take an online personality test and I was described as a provocateur. I thought that was interesting. And the truth is, sometimes I want to be more of a provocateur, but I think I’ve well learned how to be compliant¬†and fit into a system, so there are times that I don’t want to just not be in the box, I want to rip the box into tiny little pieces and throw it at everyone.

There is certainly a time and a place for living within the box. We have rules to follow, and bosses to appease, and jobs to do, that don’t allow us to follow our every whim. But that’s not the point, I don’t think. Being creative doesn’t mean ripping the box into tiny little pieces and throwing it at everyone. Being creative means having the ability and willingness to think for yourself. Being creative means that we don’t accept everything everyone says, just because “they” said it. Being creative means caring less about what everyone else might think of you, and more about pursuing what you believe in and care about. Being creative means expressing the person that God has designed you to be, that so many of us suppress for much of our lives, in order to fit in, or get a job, or look the part, or please whoever it is that needs pleasing during that phase of our lives.

And I don’t mean that as negative as it sounds. There is a need to do that at times, but I think as adults, teachers, coaches, that we have to work to straddle the line between having order and allowing young people to figure out who that person is inside. The real challenge, in my opinion, is dealing with the mistakes, emotion, and push back that comes as you allow people to make mistakes while they figure this out.

My daughter has a lot of creativity inside of her that she wants and needs to express. Many times, especially early on, I wanted her to be orderly, and compliant, and to do what I said, when I said it, and for her to thank me for my excellent parenting skills in the process. (Actually, there is a large part of me that still really wants that). But she usually had and continues to have other plans. I don’t mean to compare creativity with disobedience. She is a good kid who understands right from wrong and knows how to interact with adults respectfully. The last thing that I want to develop, as a parent, the last thing that I want to deliver to the world, is someone who will always do exactly what she is told, simply because that is what she has been told.

I want to develop someone who is willing to question things, to be unreasonable at times as they pursue their passion. As she grows into a young adult I want her to express herself and to fully develop into the woman that God has designed her to be. And I don’t think she gets to those places by complying with everything, all the time. She doesn’t get there by following the sit down, shut up, do what I say method. So the challenge is to cultivate respect, healthy relationships, and an understanding of when to fall in line and when it’s okay to live outside the line. It’s much easier the other way, I think. It’s much easier for me to use my size, and voice, and authority to develop obedience and compliance. It’s really hard to talk her through situations that she doesn’t fully understand right now. It’s really hard to have her leave the house in knee high Christmas socks, in March. It’s really hard to let a 7 year old figure some things out, because you have to put up with some things, while still providing guidance and boundaries, and then hope that what you are doing is right.

Jesus certainly didn’t live within the box. Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller. All outside the box thinkers and doers. I don’t think greatness occurs quite as often inside the box.

Much Love,
Bryan

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