I don’t hear about business executives spending hours and hours on the golf course, mid-week or on the weekend, and I certainly don’t read about anyone’s golf handicap score in Memphis business publications. Times have changed, and the ways to escape the pressures of daily life have changed as well. Business leaders are pursuing various ways to be creative on their own terms and are reaping the benefits.

There are several reasons why one might explore their creativity, whether to relieve stress, take the mind off work, move away from triggers of anxiety, or to get some much needed “me-time.” Creative outlets come in many forms, but all can lead to better focus and mental clarity to become more present in all aspects of life.

Several recent graduates of Leadership Memphis’ Executive Program Class of 2019 took time to share how they are prime examples of this new class of creatives. David C. Mills, director of health sciences, government relations and advocacy, University of Tennessee, finds his favorite creative outlets are writing plays, reciting poetry, and cooking, all exercises that bring him moments of pure unadulterated joy.

“Exercise of the creative impulse allows us to relax, using our imagination. We connect with truth, communion, fellowship, peace, beauty, passion, fun, joy, the pure part of our heart, during the creative process. We give and receive, we share our best selves playfully. Creative work reveals the beauty of life. It is its own reward,” says Mills.

Taking a moment to put brush to canvas can reveal such beauty, and you don’t need an art degree to be successful. On a Sunday during tax season Ali Sinkular, audit partner at Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck, can be found unwinding at the Ken Lecco Art Gallery in Cooper Young. “He holds the best classes with wine and pizza and he assists you so that your painting always looks good,” said Sinkular.

Shawn Karol Sandy, founder and chief revenue officer, The Selling Agency, has also found that it has made her more creative as a consultant and trainer. “Painting started out as a way to tap into more of the right hemisphere of my brain and just have fun exploring — it was the opposite of sales strategies and business development plans or sales processes.” Sandy has even included her sales teams and clients in art sessions to open them up to more creative thinking and agile mindsets.

Christopher Capel, director of collective impact and continuous quality Improvement, Communities in Schools of Memphis, finds a deeper connection with the world around him by drawing, painting, and writing. “I feel closer to God with each stroke of the pencil, brush, and pen. I drift into the flow of it all to unveil stories, emotions, and thoughts that are simultaneously familiar and foreign to me.” 

Jason Gillum, president/CEO, Millennium Search, has a more foreign way, to some, to tap into his creativity. He prefers to pull out his Rubik’s cube when he’s faced with a major business decision. It takes his mind off of the stressor and helps him gain better focus and clarity. 

Rev. Sandra Summers says her biggest creative outlet right now is drumming because it is a place where she can express her emotions rhythmically. Being in a helping profession, Summers appreciates having a space to get out aggression and frustration in a healthy way.

Refinishing furniture is how Teresa Barnhill, integrated marketing, ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, works with her hands in a creative way. “I love breathing new life into something old,” said Barnhill. She has mostly worked on her own furniture while redecorating, but recently sold one of her pieces and found that helping someone else beautify their home was really rewarding.  

Mark Russell, executive editor, The Commercial Appeal, enjoys filling his home with delicious aromas from the dishes he makes out of the cookbooks he collects. “It calms my stress levels and it requires that I employ some precision in how I make a dish. Of course, it’s a bonus when you get to enjoy the creation.”

Regina Ann Campbell, chief program officer, Epicenter, enjoys her creations with her family. “I love cooking for my three T’s, because we love food.” Campbell unapologetically spoils her husband, Terrance, and sons Torrance and Tyler, by cooking for them five days a week.

“Photography allows me to activate many parts of my brain that are not normally called upon because my other enterprises require me to be focused on revenues, earnings, business valuations, and operations.” A practicing photographer since college, Mark Yates, chief vision officer, Black Business Association of Memphis, specializes in corporate imaging, headshots, portraits, weddings, and real estate photography.  

Just as these business professionals have found, creativity is in each and everyone one of us. We just have to give ourselves the gift of time to discover what has yet to be revealed.

Andrea Wiley is director of account management at DCA Creative Communications Consulting and is an adjunct professor teaching advertising at the University of Memphis. She was the 2015-2016 president of the American Advertising Federation, Memphis Chapter, and can be reached at [email protected]