I’ve never considered myself a very creative person. I always associated creativity with art, making stuff, and using your hands.
But during a recent weekend with my coach we got the chance to explore creativity in all its forms and the nature of how we create.
This exploration brought up some unexpected feelings in me, especially when we were faced with various exercises. In the first exercise we were given fifteen minutes to create something using crayons or play dough. I immediately went into a sweat with this one.
The objective was just to create but my mind went to the “what” and the “how”.
Creative Mantra: It’s okay to mess up
I struggled through this exercise as every insecure thought about “doing it right” began to surface.
I felt like my seven-year-old self again and heard the same voices I used to hear then, real or imaginary, telling me I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t doing it correctly.
And how many of you can relate to that?
Going through an exercise or faced with something new, and hearing only criticism or judgment to the point you don’t want to continue or you stick with what you know will work?
Is it any wonder most of us have a difficult relationship with creativity or starting something new?
Suddenly, I had a sense of compassion for the little girl in me who clearly needed to be “perfect” in her creation each time.
Creating income on my lunch break
The second exercise we were given felt a lot easier, yet I know it freaked some people out.
Again, exploring the nature of creativity, we had to create money during our lunch break.
My mind immediately went to creating the most money as my competitive self rose to the surface.
After some initial rejections and a few raised eyebrows by managers in shops and bars who couldn’t quite believe this Irish girl was looking for a job for a whole 45 minutes, I found myself with a temporary post, selling beauty products in a shopping mall.
I just kept following whatever idea occurred to me to do and I censored the insecurity that showed up, until eventually I was out on the street sharing the beauty product.
Don’t be afraid to try
This activity reminded me that when we stay out of the dialogue in our head about how our ideas won’t work, we actually get to realize our ideas and bring something tangible into the world, in some cases, creating the impossible.
I learned a lot from those exercises.
I realized we’re just wired to create. The mind will always find ways to bring up ideas, even around something tricky like creating money, our job is to keep looking in the direction and not be swayed by insecurities along the way.
I know many of the women I work with are not short on ideas, but their challenge lies in implementing, following through, and actually engaging the ideas they get.
That’s what strikes me most about creativity: it’s always available. We simply need to stop evaluating every idea in terms of “good” or “bad” or “money making” and simply engage with what we feel inclined to do next.
Returning from the money exercise, proud to have been hired for 45 minutes in LA, my coach had us all write the amount we made on the board.
Pleased to have created $19.95 selling beauty products I knew nothing about (and in a foreign country!) my inflated self-worth was quickly smashed when he removed the paper from the board and said he wasn’t interested in our amounts but rather that we did the exercise.
This taught me a huge lesson overall about the nature of creativity:
It’s all about the engagement, not the end result!
When we stick to simply being engaged in our ideas rather than focusing on where it’s going and what it will look like and if it’ll work out, we not only get to enjoy the process of creation, but at some point we have a very real and tangible thing out in the world that otherwise would have been just another good idea in our head.
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