Ah, the world of the creative; moody, withdrawn, eccentric, poor, misunderstood. Announcing to the world that you are creative, or an artist, might get a few unspoken societal judgements. Of course, if you say, "I am a best selling author", or "I am a photographer", the response is likely to be different because somehow, proving yourself makes being creative more acceptable. So we shun our creativity for fear of being put in boxes and rejected, for fear of failure, and a raft of other reasons that keep us blocked from living our full potential.
Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way (written 23 years ago - I wonder if she would call it The Creative's Way if she wrote it in 2015?) points out how society doesn’t approve of creativity, and rarely encourages it. Being creative means thinking outside the square, seeing things differently to accepted norms, and that can cause discomfort.
She also notes that creativity is inherent in all of us, not just the obviously gifted. I agree. I was encouraged as a child to draw and write, but as a student, these gifts weren't seen to be able to be translatable into a career, unless I wanted to be a teacher. I didn't.
Now, after many years trying to be a creative in a largely non-creative environment, I'm happily living the life of a creative and can think of a zillion reasons why it's something we can all aspire to. Not to be artists, designers or poets, but to bring all the good stuff about creativity into our lives, and therefore have happier lives as a result. And, contribute to a better world.
1. You get to make the simple, awesomely simple.
“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus
How cool to be able to see things differently? For a few, like Steve Jobs, it's a gift, but we can all learn it. Think about trollies on wheels. That was such an obvious thing, right? Sure, after they came on the market! I remember having a stainless steel bag trolley. Doh! The answer was right there, yet many of us rushed out and bought this brainiac device, not giving a thought to asking Tosca to put wheels on their bags. Fortunately, somebody did! And then, presto! They thought to make them turn 360 degrees. All of it was thinking that existed. It took a creative to pull it all together.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Steve Jobs. Creatives often see things way before others do.
2. It makes life fun.
Mind mapping is like child's play but has been responsible for some of the greatest ideas last century, thanks to thought leaders like Edward de Bono. There are so many ways that creativity can bring a childlike feeling to the task at hand.
Pablo Picasso pointed out that every child is born an artist; however the problem is staying an artist when you grow up. In context, it means; we are all born creative and what a shame we can't hold onto that innate gift and quality when we become an adult. And, play! Without permission or restrictions.
3. Saves time and money.
What? How can 30 adults in a room playing, save time or money? Edward de Bono's corporate 'game' Six Hats', did exactly that. Instead of being satisfied with argument as a way of thinking, he redefined it. By introducing the concept of co-operative exploration in 1985, he went on to train corporations to resolve problems with creative solutions in record speed. One company that previously spent 30 days on project discussions reduced it to two days.
Creative thinking gives the opportunity to step away from ego and battle-drive argument thinking, into a constructive world that delivers cooperative solutions.
4. Helps you create the life you want.
Concepts like Vision Boarding - cutting out pictures of your dream life and sticking them on a big board - can be hours of delight. Even Donald Trump subscribes to creative thinking, famously saying that if you are going to think, think BIG! Most of the world's leading thinkers, athletes and teachers create their lives on a daily basis, from writing daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals, to visualising them having been successfully accomplished.
5. Doesn't limit possibilities.
We all love those skits of children's impressions of marriage, or what they think happens when you die. Their take on the world is often hilarious, because they truly believe it is possible.
Countless inventions and books have been turned down, by non-creative people who failed to see the opportunity.
6. If you believe the impossible, you usually keep trying until you succeed.
One of the gorgeous things about creativity is that it comes with blind faith, quite the opposite from the old way of thinking about creatives: "You'll never succeed in life doing that!" When you are following your life purpose, which most people uncover by creative personal exploration, you are heading true north. The decisions you make all point in the one direction. Every choice you make serves your higher purpose. Therefore, you just keep trying, knowing that if it is feeling good, fun, and NOT feeling like a drag, (versus hard work - I'll explain that in a moment), you are on the right path.
You don't give up. You just adjust the sails until you are on the right course.
7. Failure no longer becomes a bad thing.
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” and he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. (Perhaps that’s why he failed 2,000 times before inventing the light bulb!)
Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as an on-air evening news anchor and was told she wasn’t fit for television. Harry Potter was turned down by 12 publishers, and there are plenty more blockbuster books that had repeated rejections.
Oprah still talks about this today as being one of the most important lessons in her life. She realised that she was in the wrong place doing the right thing. Producers didn't like the empathy she had with interviewees. Oprah didn't like the lack of personal connection being shown to viewers. Her failure cemented her vision (and intuition) of her personal compass, and she kept following it.
8. Work no longer feels like hard work.
I designed five books in 18 months. I wrote four of them. I co-photographed one of them. I published all of them. This to many would seem an impossible task. But it has been possible because I have been following my true north, my life purpose, bringing vision to life.
It has been 'hard work' but not hard 'work'. My back has ached, but I've been unable to leave my chair because words have insisted on tumbling out of my head onto the page. The difference is, I've been connected with a much higher purpose, and by willingly being the vehicle for it, nothing else mattered.
You look after the quantity, and God/your higher self, whatever you want to call it, will take care of the quality. Once you're aligned with your life vision, you will never have to 'work' a day in your life. (But you do still have to turn up!)
9. You believe there is always a solution.
I've been this way most of my life, but life as a corporate manager stifled it, along with the argumentative style of leadership that society encourages. A creative in a meeting often feels like an outsider. Egos battle for attention. Ideas are squashed, not on merit, but simply because they don't fit within the norms.
I was in a Sales and Marketing meeting once when I was almost howled out of the boardroom for suggesting that women were the best potential market for DIY products. Even though I had evidence to back up my claim, in the year 2000, women as DIYers were not on the horizon for most blokey building companies. Fast forward (I didn't give up); I saved the brand from being kicked out of many millions of dollars worth of accounts, and succeeded in facilitating several new multi-million dollar contracts. There is always a solution. Always.
10. You get to see the world with different eyes. And it is beautiful.
This doesn't mean you won't see tragedies or poverty. But with a solutions-driven mindset, you will see possibility. You will experience deep gratitude for everything in your life, which, coincidentally, will lead to more of that stuff appearing. You will walk barefoot on the grass and marvel at the beauty and perfection of how nature pulled all her shit together in such an incredible way.
As I have discovered and recovered my creative self over the last four years, I have not only become more productive. Every single area of my life has improved. It's been a journey. It's been hard work. It's at times, been painful. I've always been creative. But now, the beauty of the space I am in now, is that I have given myself permission to be the most creative person I can be. And, I am following my true north.
If you would like to learn how to accelerate your own creative journey, check out our 2015 workshops at www.creatavisionpublishing.com, or follow us on Facebook. We will be in Australia first, from February, schedule coming soon.
We are all creative. And by developing creative minds, we will truly have an even more beautiful planet.