What can we learn from Pixar?

I recently posted about producers and the similarities with my work as a physical therapist. I said that I’m not a director and that people shouldn’t try to hand over their director’s chair to me. When I wrote this I know that some readers would think about the various movements and exercises that may be provided in physical therapy and how directed they can seem. So, let me further clarify.

I was recently watching some of the extras from Pixar’s Cars with my son. They were discussing the setting at Pixar’s headquarters and how the story went from an idea to a movie. Generally, things progress from a script and are brainstormed into story boards, which are brainstormed into scenes. Pixar looks to be an interesting place to work. Pixar was designed to foster creativity in its employees and a lot of play goes on. Other work places have similar practices with one famous example being Google. A great book on the subject is Daniel Pink’s Drive.

Patients usually bring me a script even if it is only a draft. They have an idea of where their story is presently (their current circumstance) and where they want it to go (their goals). They are not sure how to get from A to B, however. Therapy should be place where creativity is fostered and brainstorming takes place to help someone find a path from A to B. We come up with some story boards together, often in the form of some specific movements or types of movements, but it remains a place for creativity and brainstorming set by the boundaries of the script.

On the set there are rehearsals and actual takes which have been well thought out and prepared but remain a place for creativity. Mistakes are allowed because they often bring about a surprising outcome that ends up in the movie. Some sets even work with improvisation to foster this aspect of creativity. Some patients may need access to a set with someone’s help to be sure that when mistakes happen they are safe and foster improvement. Others may only need help in knowing how to build their own set from someone who has set building experience.

I want my clinic to be a place that foster’s creativity, where scripts are discussed and clarified so that story boards can be created and not dictated. I want my set to be a safe place to rehearse, when mistakes happen they happen safely and in a way that moves the work forward and not backward.

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