Sand castles on the beach: Characteristics that cultivate creativity

This morning as I walked on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta I was struck by the number of people building sandcastles. Ages ranged from barely able to walk to barely able to sit comfortably on the sand. It seems there was a job for everyone! None of the castles looked the same, and each design is unique. I found myself wondering what the conditions were on a wide, open beach, with only sand and water as the tools that lead to such a breadth of creativity and depth of engagement? Last night we wandered on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, where it seems, professional sand builders create unbelievably detailed work. Many have signs posted asking for tips and stating that this is their job, their only source of income.

Limitless possibilities .Even though we have all seen, and many of us have built sandcastles, there is no ‘set way’ to do it, and so the palate is empty, open to the creation of the sculptor or builder. Rarely do you hear people say – that is ‘supposed’ to go here… no, don’t do it like that (although I will confess to moments in my childhood where I was the ‘boss’ of the sandcastle build). Mostly, people play ‘nice’.

Everyone is welcome to contribute in their own ways and strengths. I observed a child today who was barely old enough to be walking. While mom and dad busily created the castle, they encouraged the toddler to ‘keep bringing us sand” and he would walk over with a bit on the end of his shovel and dump it onto the pile. All of them were working to same end, each happily giving what they were able.

The product is less important than the process. As people strive to create these amazing structures in the sand, there is an understanding that when the tide comes in, or if it rains overnight, or even if left, the castle will wash away, and the sand will return to the beach from whence it came. People understand as they create, that it’s more about the process, often the team developed with those who build together, and the product in the end is a great bonus. It’s a wonderful place of still being guided by the product – deciding how and where to place the sand – without being dominated by it. I can think of few places in life where this is true and yet I wonder if this temporal view of the final product somehow frees up the creativity in us?

And so, I am curious. In a world that is increasingly complex, requiring from us creative solutions and engaged teams, how might these conditions also support the work that we do? How does remembering sand castles on the beach, create new possibilities for us