Creativity in Business: Interview with Julie Ann Turner

Creativity in Business interview number 16 is with Julie Ann Turner, creator and founder of of and Orbits of Influence, an award-winning global social innovation and leadership dialogue initiative. Julie Ann is creator/executive producer and co-host of the CONSCIOUSSHIFT Show on the Co-Creator Radio Network. She is also a world authority on creative process and author of the three-book series, A Creator’s Guide: Principles, Process & Power to Transform Your Life, Work & World, which traces the universal principles and patterns of the creative process and reveals them in a system each of us may use to consciously create our lives, work and world.

How does your work relate to creativity?

Turner:  I reconnect people with their creative power and singular genius – both of which already lie, often untapped, within each of us – and guide individuals and teams to use creative process more consciously to create their lives, work and world. The truth is, we already are creating our lives, our work and our world – through the choices we make and through our creative expressions – the only question is, are we doing so consciously or unconsciously?

The creative potential we see arising across the planet is for each of us to recognize our creative power, realize our highest potential – and use the creative process consciously, so that we are co-creating the future we most desire to see and experience together.

In keeping with this, the core belief behind is two-fold: First, that “we are all creators” – we are each here to live fully into our creative potential, and to express our unique gifts and talents in a singular way; and second, that “we are all creator’s guides.” Once we have discovered our own unique life purpose and singular creative expression, we are each here to guide others in living fully into their own creative potential.

Q: What do you see as the new paradigm of work?

Turner: The term “work” typically gets a bad rap – we often view work as a negative concept, something we must do or that we’d prefer to avoid. Of course, this is understandable, if we accept that our work is our “job” – or a single function within a job within a department (and so on) – in other words, the limited box we’ve accepted as our work (hence, the term, “cubicle nation”).

Yet, we are multidimensional creative beings – meant to express a full spectrum of creative contribution in the world. That’s why accepting that our work is limited to a single, linear function feels so restrictive to us – and why we long to break out, rediscover our power and multidimensional creative potential – and enjoy and express our contributions on multiple levels, across the full spectrum of our lives.

I am a champion of a new paradigm of work that turns that around, so that our work, or rather, our “works” (plural) – i.e., all of our unique creative expressions and contributions (the multiple ways we share our singular genius and serve the world) – are our works of art. In fact, in Latin, the word for work is “opus” – the same as that for creative, musical compositions. Our lives are meant to be a full-spectrum creative expression of who we are in the world in the most profound creative and co-creative ways. Our lives become our creative expression of identity, our way of being in the world – our lives themselves are our art.

Q: What do you see the role of creativity in that paradigm?

Turner: As expressed in the Creative Process Manifesto, “The creative process is not a process, it is THE Process. It underlies, informs, and transcends everything that exists, ever has existed or ever will exist. The creative process is the most fundamental and powerful process in the universe. And it is available to each of us.”

Everything we do is expressed through the creative process – again, either consciously or unconsciously – and so creativity is not simply a small aspect or technique that we merely add to or overlay onto our work (although we may use creative techniques as part of the overall creative process) – instead, it is the generative force out of which all of our works emerge.

The creative process is always at work – and when we use this creative sequence consciously, either individually or collectively, we instantly leap beyond the bounds of limitation, into the unlimited realm of creation (and co-creation) – and we tap fully into the talents, artistry, wisdom, energy and creative choice that are available to us, at all times, when we choose to imagine what can be.

Q: What attitudes and behaviors do you see as essential for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?

Turner: At the core, what holds us back from our individual and collective creative potential is our limited focus on what is – on what already exists for us and what we already know. As long as we’re focused on a what is-only view or paradigm, we limit ourselves merely to reacting circumstances (what exists) or problem-solving (focusing on the problem – i.e., a constellation of current circumstances that may or may not be valid or relevant) – which is a self-limiting approach. Yet, at present, this is the default worldview for most of us, where we’ve been taught to focus on problems and rarely, if ever, expand our view to ask and imagine what can be.

The essential new paradigm mindshift involves first expanding our view from the limited “what is” realm to the broader view of the unlimited “what can be” realm – the realm of what we can create or imagine – which is the realm in which all innovation, value and leadership operate, emerge and expand.

Q: What is one tool, technique or approach that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?

Turner: First, realize that the power to create is yours – it already exists within you. That also means you are responsible for your creative expressions, for your experience – and for co-creating our world. A simple but powerful question will help you make that shift:
  Every time you (or those around you) are tempted to ask “What should I/we do now?” – stop. Instead, ask “What do I/we truly want to create or co-create?” You will instantly see the difference in the level of focus and scope of potential this simple question shift opens for you. This simple change in focus will shift your work and thinking to an entirely different and higher level of potential.

Additionally, 5 steps to shifting your creativity at work include:

Discover your unique gifts and talents: Ask trusted friends, current and former colleagues, fellow community leaders what they see as your greatest strengths. Recall what actions and ideas others often compliment you on. Cosider finding a mentor or guide to help you identify and cultivate your purpose and true potential.  Consider what you loved to do as child, and what you imagined being when you grew up. Allow yourself to dwell in the creative, miraculous realm of your childlike mind. Recognize what you truly are passionate about – not just what you are good at doing. What activities give you energy the more you spend time engaged in them? What do you find yourself so immersed in that you “lose time”? This deep engagement is often called “flow” by both creativity experts and by elite athletes.

Think beyond your current position: Imagine your highest desired job or level of business or work success. Imagine the level of power and accomplishment you desire. Vividly imagine what true success looks and feels like for you. How quickly do you want to get there? How can you accelerate your success – and achieve it on your own terms?

Seek the highest: Think beyond just your job or work position, and imagine what singular leadership you might bring to your community. Take time to envision your ultimate life contribution.

Map your trajectory: Your life and career paths are like a series of ever-rising story arcs in an expanding spiral of accomplishment and you’re writing your own heroic life story, whether you realize it consciously or not. Begin to map your life “arcs” one or two steps beyond your current career and community contributions, and identify the first few steps that will shift you to those higher trajectories.

Take powerful action: Take action on the top one or two initial steps – the highest-potential, immediate impact priorities. Start now to focus your energy and creative power toward reaching your highest vision and full potential.

Q: Finally, what is creative leadership to you?

Turner: Leadership involves envisioning new possibilities and breaking new ground – thus, leadership is fundamentally creative. Clearly, we recognize we must learn to create new answers for our world; we consciously acknowledge that the old ways of thinking and operating are no longer adequate, that if we keep doing what we have been doing, we will keep getting what we’ve always gotten.

It is the creative process that holds the power to shift us into the mode of creative, conscious choice, where we not only learn to adapt to an ever-changing environment, but also, through our proactive, creative choices, to shape the future itself. Across all spheres – business and community, local and global – we have become acutely aware of the need for creative leadership, of the value that creators, visionaries, and innovators bring into the world.

Creative Leadership means we realize that this new world of ever-accelerating change calls for all of us to assume our creative power, not just a few of us. To realize the transformational change calls for more from us than variations on existing models. It will require conscious co-creation.

You may reach Julie Ann Turner at, where you’ll find additional creative resources, including her Creator’s Guide book series, Creative Process Manifesto and more. Readers of this interview can also access her creativity-boosting webinar “Raise Your Game: Playing & Profiting at Full Power Now” for free. The Creativity in Business thought leader interview series was developed and is conducted by business creativity catalyst, Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence and Quantum Leap Business Improv.