That is what I wanted to know for my new project “The World of Creativity” as I travel the globe to learn about the many facets of human creativity.
So this week I spent a few days in Kiev. I got to interview and spend time with creative artists, influencers, businessmen and business women of Ukraine – and speak at Global Inspiring Forum, a big leadership conference – to better understand the mindset of this unique country.
I learnt that from an etymology point of view there are two meanings for the word “Ukraine”.
It could mean “Land”, as in Motherland.
Or it could mean “border. frontier, outskirts”. The word is made up from u- “at” + krai “edge.” making the world literally mean “at the edge”.
The second meaning comes from how the land we now call Ukraine have previously been ruled (as a whole or in part) by other countries, like Poland, Russia, Lithuania, the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Empire etc.
Situated as it is between East and West the country is still to today at a “border” in many ways.
So how does being situated in the “outskirts” from the perspective of the powers affect the mindset of a people?
Some people I spoke to said that Ukrainians can initially be sceptical to foreigners. Too many times people from far away lands have come to take control of their country.
But being situated in what others look at like “frontiers” also mean that the people in Ukraine has learnt not to rely on others for help.
Waone Interesni Kazki, an artist who does beautiful – and huge – street murals all over the world explained that because he could not rely on the central government for support he had been forced/pushed to take control of his own career, and instead looked outwards to the world for work. Today he has done street murals all over the world, from Australia and Canada to Spain and Mexico and when I meet with him he was doing the final touches on the work for a solo exhibition in Rome in a few weeks.
Historically being at the outskirts might have deprived you from support and attention – but in the new world we are living in humanity is connected.
Ukraine is no longer isolated or far-far away. Thanks to global airlines like Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways you can now fly – with just one stop – from Kiev to over 300 other places on earth.
And thanks to the Internet we are now all connected to each other giving us almost equal access to information and knowledge regardless where we live. (Interesting fact: Unlimited 4G Internet access in Ukraine is just 2 Euro per month!)
For the first time in human history soon no place is isolated. All places are connected. And that changes the dynamics.
Because that also means that when everyone is connected to the world then no-one is the center of the world anymore.
And when no-one is a the center of the world, then the people who USED to think they were the center of the world is at a disadvantage.
All roads may have led to Rome and China might be the Middle Kingdom.
But Ukraine is the country literally named after being “at and edge”.
The people of Ukraine are used to not being at the center of attention, or the power or gravity.
In a more and more global and connected world with innovation created everywhere and trends starting in the most un-expected of places the winning mindset is not to think that the world revolves around you – but to know that the world revolves around all of us, or more specifically: that we all revolve around the sun.
And the people with the mindset and understanding that they are not more “central” or more “important” than others will be the winners.
Be Ukrainian in your approach to creativity: Understand that we are all now living on the border, we are all part of the frontier. And no-one is any longer at the outskirts of the world.
To learn more about the artist Waone check out: https://www.waone.net.
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