The Rules Release!

The Body Builder

by Captain Terry Camsey – 

It’s a strange paradox, yet true, that creativity seems to thrive when working within prescribed boundaries. Let me give you an example…

Ask me to write you a piece of music and–if I’m so inclined–I may agree to do so. If I do agree, then I am faced with a dilemma. Shall it be a vocal or an instrumental composition? Should it be for a soloist or ensemble? Would a march or a selection be more appropriate? I am likely to be paralyzed by choices.

(We have the same problem going into some restaurants, don’t we? A menu with few items makes choosing much easier than if there are many choices.)

On the other hand, if you asked me to write you a hymn tune, 16 measures long, in the key of Bb, with the highest note D (within the stave) and the lowest Bb (below the stave)…with a time signature of 3/4 and no note longer than a quarter note…I’ll probably have it for you in a few minutes. The rules, you see, release.

If I asked you to build me a house, it would (unless you are a builder) cause you some distress. But, if I gave you a sheet of paper, some glue, several paper clips, two corks, a knife, paint and a brush and two bottle-tops and said, “Make a house out of those ingredients!” the odds are that you’d spend a pleasant half-hour being creative, especially if you were working with a group on the project. The “rules” release your creativity.

Creative business people and inventors do this all the time. The parameters are set in advance (the “rules,” or “conditions,” if you like) and then a session of “brainstorming” releases a synergy where 1+1=3, 4, 5, or more. If you approached the challenge by agreeing to seek for 10 solutions, the odds are that you would get them and–further–that the best ideas do not “pop” out first, but come along as ideas five, six, seven or so.

There are those who, in looking at the Territorial Commander’s “guidelines” paper “The Salvation Army–Who We Are!” may consider the “guidelines” to be restrictive…limiting of potential. The reverse is true…they have the power to release creativity in measure not seen for many a year in some corps.

Try creativity in reverse and see how that, too, can be stimulating of new ideas. For example, list 10 ways to be absolutely certain new people visiting your corps will feel so ill-at-ease that they never return. Now, look at your answers and reverse them…you’ll land up with a list of great ideas to do your best to ensure they won’t ever want to stay away.

The rules can release and, for those willing to try a little creativity (and why not, since we are made in the image of a creative God) do release.

Try it. You may find you like it!

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