Having the courage to think differently
Eniola Aluko, besides being a former professional football player and Angel City FC Sporting Director, is also a Board Advisor to MediaCom Creative Systems, and champions creative decision-making
How would you define creativity – is it a process, an idea, a talent?
For me, creativity is all in the execution. I can have the same idea as someone else, but the way in which I execute that idea can be entirely different, because creativity is personal, executed through a different lens. I find my creativity is best expressed when I have an idea that just cannot leave my head. For example, I had the recurring idea in 2019 that the launch of my book had to happen in an African-inspired art gallery. All my creativity flowed from that idea which just kept coming back to me. I launched my book in an African art gallery in London with every detail envisioned first in my head, before I was able to execute it. It is the most creative thing I've ever done.
What difference does being creative make to the way in which you approach opportunities/problems?
I attach a lot of courage and foresight to creativity. If you have a creative mind, you approach opportunities and problems with courage, and create solutions in a unique way, rather than repeating what others have done.
Did being creative enable you to deliver something positive – something that has made a difference to people's lives?
I see my role as Sporting Director at Angel City FC as a creative one, building a football team from scratch with a vision, strategy and intention that you first must create and communicate, then execute. Because there are so many ways to succeed in football, for me it is about choosing which way you want to succeed, being courageous in doing things differently, and then executing that strategy with a team of people that can bring that vision to life.
Having a team of amazing players and staff that reflect a global diversity of backgrounds, skillsets, and perspectives was key to my vision. The creative part was finding unique ways to communicate my vision to so many different people.
Developing visual presentations, and showing what the future will look like, was an awesome way to engage owners, players, and coaches.
I worked with a visual designer at MediaCom, and creative agency Lotus and Dash, to develop presentations to bring my vision to life.
Who has inspired you creatively?
Beyonce is an artist that has always inspired me, in terms of how meticulously and uniquely she approaches her work. Her creativity has also evolved over the years. Evolution is key, and I think Beyonce always finds a way to re-create her work.
What have you learned from thinking creatively that will inform your next project, role, endeavour?
I have had a bit of an epiphany lately about the power of foresight versus the safety of hindsight. The ability to have the courage to make decisions that are new, without knowing what is going to happen, is powerful. Taking risks, and allowing yourself to be creative, is also key. Many people make safe decisions and starve their creativity because hindsight tells them safer options work better. But if we all stayed in a comfort zone with our creativity, creativity becomes predictable.
How important is it to surround yourself with other creative thinkers, perhaps people that think differently from you?
So important. I am allergic to group-think. The idea that a decision is somehow stronger because many people think the same thing is false. It just means many people think the same thing, and usually there is not enough diversity of thought in the room to challenge us, creatively, to think outside the echo chambers that make us feel comfortable.
Having people that think differently is important. Respectfully agreeing to disagree, but finding alignment of purpose, is also key – otherwise you have a culture of disagreement.
20 June 2022