“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Do you have problems getting creative sometimes? Well – Welcome to 2016! A world of creative constipation! It’s gotten to the point that some people now just assume they’re not creative people at all. (Big – huge – disaster type of head shake).
So this week – creativity spoke with me. She said, in no uncertain terms, “What the HELL have you been doing? Wake the f@ck up already! I’m waiting!”
What happened? Here we go:
I was in a workshop for entrepreneurs who are escaping corporate world and starting purposeful businesses. It’s a God send. A guy named Jeff runs the program. He’s a cute little Jewish guy with brown curly hair, always eager to teach with his brown rimmed glasses and beige cargo shorts. I’m staring at his little Jewish hat thing, watching him move thinking – “how is that magically staying on his head?” when he gets up and asks:
“Who here thinks they’re a creative person?”
30% of the room raised their hands.
“So do 70% of you just think you’re not naturally a creative person?”
60 smart, energetic, good hearted individuals depressively nodded ‘yes’ – looking as defeated as Martha Stewart walking into a jail cel with her fresh $120 blow dry.
The statement that came next was beautifully mind blowing and dumb-perspective crushing.
Jeff, always bursting with so much excitement for what he’s sharing with us, smiled as if he was about to tell us we just landed on the moon and waving his arms he yelled, “We are all creative! We have just lost our ability to create.”
A group of every mixed culture, with every different personality and business idea were all unified with one emotion – hope.
“Could I be more creative than I am right now?”- was the unifying thought amongst us all.
Jeff continued, “Creativity is an inherent skill. You see it in every single child that’s born. But as you grow older, some people lose it. But why does this happen?”
Then he posed the next question, “Think about it: what prevents you from being creative?”
Surprisingly, people immediately identified their blockers. Interestingly, they were different in detail but all the very same at their core. They were all based in fear.
“Fear of judgement.” Maybe someone won’t like your idea. I mean, when you engage your creativity you bring something up from deep within you. What if someone else thinks it’s ‘stupid’ – does that mean what you have deep inside you is stupid? Are you stupid?
“Fear of losing control” – To be creative you have to be open to a place you don’t exactly know how to navigate. You have to get in touch with a place inside you that you don’t fully understand. And in today’s world, we have been taught to the point of it being second nature, that ‘control’ is security. You’re afraid of losing that control, what may come up? You don’t know.. And thats nerve wracking.
Is this a good time for me to use the F.E.A.R plug? What is FEAR? False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s so so so insane how much our own fears, of stuff that probably isn’t even real or that we don’t need to be afraid of, prevent us from being our best selves. But that’s another topic. Back to creativity.
So it turns out, creativity is something you practice. It’s not just a talent you’re either born with or you’re not. But just like everyone has the innate ability to learn to speak or to walk, you have the innate ability to create.
You just gotta train it man, like your muscles. You wouldn’t expect to wake up and kick ass in an Iron Man competition if you’d never trained for it right? So – don’t expect to be your creative best without training that too!
So – the next question is – how do you train it?
Well – Back to my workshop – They gave us a blank piece of paper next. Jeff, radiating his ever present optimism instructed, “Draw 3 boxes. You’re going to draw how you feel in each stage. The first box is where you’re coming from. The middle box is where you are. The last box is where you’re going. No words, and it needs to be interpretive. Don’t draw yourself sitting in an office. Let it be feeling based. You have 10 minutes to do nothing but this.”
Woah – put on the spot. Hello performance anxiety!
And it’s funny because I experienced performance anxiety, knowing no one else would ever see it! Proof to me – that the judgement we place on ourselves is paralyzing – even more so than the judgement we expect to face from others.
Anyhow – 10 minutes is long. And I sat there thinking well, I have to do something. So I drew the boxes. And then … I outlined them. And then I didn’t know what to draw, so I drew the arrows in between the boxes. And then I shaded the arrows. LOL. Pure procrastination. Why? Well – Resistance of course! It’s that resistance you feel before you create. The powerful thing here, is that during regular life, when we experience resistance before we create, it’s so fucking uncomfortable that we usually just give up and go and do something else. Like eating a cookie – cause that’s easy. Not that I do that or anything – *looks away*. But because I knew I had 10 minutes to do nothing else, I said ok I have to do something.… anything. And then something strange happened.
I started to draw!
I started very small. I started by drawing spikes in the block. Why? I dunno! I just did. Then when I looked at it, I realized, this is how I felt where I was coming from, trapped in a prison of sharp edges. And then ….. HELL-OOOW FLOW! No more effort was required here, just simply ability to stay focused and keep up and let that ‘unknown’ thing in side guide me.
Guys. This was bizarre!
Here’s my drawing.
When I look at it, I realize this is exactly exactly accurate. And I feel proud that I connected to what was inside and brought it out. And right as I finished, someone who had peeped on it behind me (ugh total violation of my private unjudging creative space) said “THAT is beautiful!” – with like some massive conviction in her voice, like she connected to it and it made her feel validated.
I mean, is it beautiful? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, who the hell cares? Beauty is not objective, there is no right or wrong definition for it. And it shouldn’t determine if I continue to create or not.
And that’s what I realize I have to stop doing – stop creating for approval.
Because there will always be people who don’t like it. Ya man – The girl beside me looked at it and was very VERY silent when the girl behind me made that comment. But it doesn’t matter. If we create for other peoples approval, we’ll never get it, and we’ll never create and we’ll never get anyones approval or disapproval!
We have to create just for the sake of creating. For our own need and desire to create and fulfill ourselves in bringing out whats in us. And sure, it will feel good when people like it, and people will, but that has to be totally separate from the process.
BUT! This is not about the drawing! A really freaking awesome thing happened next!
I got so creative in every area of my life! I came up with a fantastic concept for a video I was working on. On the spot in a client meeting, I came up with all these ideas the client loved. I wrote my first blog post (here) which i’d been resisting for months. It was like the one little creativity exercise, built up a muscle and the muscle wanted to FLEX!! It was like, I viscerally recognized the feeling of fears of being creative, and then when I created, I again viscerally recognized how total BS that fear was. And then I was just like, “I’m over it – Imma create – whoever likes it can like it and who doesn’t doesn’t have to!” Hellooooo permission to myself!
And in the words of Barnie Rubbel – Yabadabbadoooo!!!
So – to recap. You’re creative. And you wanna be! Don’t trick yourself into thinking other wise. You have just untrained yourself. So retrain yourself – and do it right now! Go, draw the 3 boxes, and do your own exercise. Give yourself 10 minutes on the timer to force yourself to break past the BS so you can re-train yourself that the BS is not real – Your first step in not being held back by your own mentally created fears.
Now go create the hell outta of your naturally creative little self!