Creativity isn’t a thing. It’s a fluid process.
Once you know how to initiate and support this process, it will support you in solving your most pressing problems.
I believe humanity’s creative potential is the source of genius that will lead us out of the messes we’ve made as a species. I do know it won’t come solely from what we already know. What we already know can and will support our creative potential if we hold it that way, but to move forward we must go into the unknown and to do so requires smart and collaborative creativity tools. Creativity is the foundation for innovation, collaboration, and compassion…all of which we need to create a better society for humans and a more sane way of engaging with the planet and other species.
Once WE know how to initiate and support this process together, it will support us in solving OUR most pressing problems.
Everyone is creative; however, very few of us bring our full creative genius to our lives.
If you want people engaged, you must give them the tools, resources, and culture that support them to bring their full creative potential to whatever endeavor you need them to be engaged in. These people might be those who are working for you and you need them to be giving their best selves to the enterprise. They might be your children and your wish for them is to develop into the most accomplished and compassionate adult you know they can be. This could be your spouse who you hope will come to your relationship more open and loving. They could be your parents who are aging and you hope for the best for their later years. And, of course, this might also include you, the rest of our society, and your hopes for what we can create together.
There are three ‘main things’ that get in the way of this:
- We were once told we were not creative and we believed that false story, which leads to number 2…
- We live and work in cultures and a society that do not trust creativity (unless it looks a certain way and is for the most part predictable which isn’t the nature of creativity at all). In environments such as these, we are encouraged to stifle our creativity, and we encourage others to do the same, even those these same cultures (including ourselves) espouse a desire to be creative…which leads to number 3…
- Creativity is not something we learn or a skill we take on — it is our nature. It is who we are. It is how we, when we are being ourselves in the most natural way, engage with the world and navigate our lives. In reality, many of the ‘skills’ we learn can block our creative genius.
Let’s break these three down…
Believing the falsity…
In the courses I teach on Creativity and often in my coaching, through an experiential process I take my students back to a time when they were simply expressing themselves as they were, feeling the freedom that comes from that. It’s a moment before the people in their lives — parents, older siblings, teachers — told them they needed to tone it down and not be ‘too much’. In this relived experience, my students are able to feel again how they used to feel — free and joyful. And then I have them ‘re-experience’ the moment of ‘wounding’ just after feeling so free when they were told — verbally or non-verbally — to stop doing what they were so innocently because it was in some way ‘wrong’ according to that person. They relive the experience of simply expressing their joyful nature until someone decided it was ‘too much’ or ‘not right’.
This exercise is always powerful. While this is truly liberating, it can also reopen a few painful memories. But doing so is important. Why? Because when we realize how painful it was to be shut down in this way, we can come to accept why we chose to close ourselves off and stop doing the things we love. We can come to accept why we decided to believe we weren’t good enough at the things we love to call ourselves ‘creative’.
Oftentimes, when people say they aren’t creative, they are really saying they don’t have talent or they are afraid of self-expression in the face of judgment from self or other. Sound familiar?
Instead of believing in our own nature, the very nature we were simply and joyfully expressing, we come to believe we are too loud, too much, not talented, and so on.
This ‘wound’ gets covered over with a scar and then we do not want to touch that wound again. We avoid it like we avoid a root canal.
And, yet…the drive to express ourselves does not go away because it is who and what we are. It IS the drive to be creative.
At some point, the urge to BE what we really are becomes greater than our fear of what we came to believe we were told we are. This is often when we make the choice to seek out those experiences, teachings, and opportunities to uncover and rediscover the truth of our nature. As long as these teachings and opportunities guide us to find what has been within ourselves all along rather than put more layers on top of us as to who someone else wants to tell us we are, we will begin to free our creative genius. This is also often when we decide to quit doing the things that hold no meaning for us. It can feel frightening to stop doing, fearing that we will do nothing forever. But, eventually, we begin to know and feel, and remember what it is we truly enjoy doing.
Furthering the false story…
2. What furthers this forgetfulness of nature are the cultures and environments that continue to feed this message of ‘too much’, or ‘out of control’ when and if we attempt to bring forth our true creativity. Most of our institutional cultures are based on controlling people’s expression. There is a great expectation placed on us to ‘control’ ourselves, to bring only our professional selves to work and to leave our feeling, personal nature outside the office. But if we want the people who work for us to be creative, we cannot expect them to do this from a half-self. Creativity requires that we have access to our whole selves, which means we must first come to understand that our creativity comes from within us, not from some ten-point process. The process can stimulate our creativity. But any process is not a replacement for the lived understanding that our creativity comes from within and can be accessed and stimulated by paying attention to our inner world.
There are a lot of messages out there that creative people are weird, different, or even crazy. Perhaps there have been artists who lived on the edge of the world of mental illness. And, there are people in all professions who live on that same edge.
There are some deep seated fears of creativity, and non-rational thought and behavior. This comes from the rational mind that has grooved itself into a fear of that which the rational mind cannot understand or control — and creativity fits this description. This doesn’t mean we cannot understand more how to access it and bring it forward. But, ultimately, the source of our creativity will always be a mystery.
This vast inner realm within us is a mystery. It is an ocean of possibility and we can never quite tell what will pour forth onto shore. But isn’t this good news? This is what we hunger for. This is the true root of innovation. And if we cannot solve our current problems with the same level of thinking that created it, you can bet the source of our solutions will not come out of our fearful linear thought. It will come out of this vast beautiful ocean of possibility. And what comes out of this is aware of what is best for all. It is beyond the personal, but it includes the personal.
Reviving our naturally creative capacities
3. When you understand that true creativity flows from within you, you begin to get a true sense of how creativity is your nature, and exactly why it is your nature. When you are being yourself in the most natural way, engaged with the world, navigating your life, and NOT stuck in the grooved thinking that continues to create the same old results, you are being creative — in your home life, work life, and personal life. We knew this as children.
The things we learn often just reinforce this grooved thinking, including many skills that are thought to foster creativity. Helpful skills will bring out your creativity — will bring out you. Unhelpful skills will bottle your creativity up — will bottle you up.
Consider that the status quo is grooved thinking. We have been taught it is conventional thinking, meaning we’ve all agreed to think in the same old grooves. There’s a perceived safety in this, but we will never find creativity here. True creativity comes out of this unknown ocean, not the known stagnant pond.
When we’ve got this wound inside, we can fear to look within again. Of course, we do. It hurts. It is emotionally painful. But it is also liberating and it is necessary. It is how we return to creative wholeness.
Your creativity isn’t really a thing. It is a fluid process. That, along with its mysterious nature, is what makes it so hard to define. The good news is that this process brings forth powerful qualities that we each need to live more fruitfully and successfully in the world, qualities such as strength, will, joy, compassion, and intuition. Again, these qualities come from within you and they are in service to you living your whole and full self in this world.
Our job as leaders…
This fluid process is unpredictable. Because this process is fluid, it does not come forth easily in an environment of rigid control. Fluidity needs a container that is malleable and intelligent enough to support the creativity that is needed. This is our job as leaders. To understand the nature of creativity. To understand how to adjust the container. To understand that when people are creative, they are happy, healthy, engaged, and much more productive and successful.
Our job as leaders in this time is to create cultures and environments that allow people’s creativity to take root and come to productive fruition. Each person has a genius within. Can you imagine what might be possible if everyone who works with, and for, felt supported in bringing that genius forward?