As we start a new year, I find myself thinking about creativity – often an overused word, yet not well understood. I really believe that everyone can be creative, and feel sad when others tell me they are not creative. “I don’t paint or play music” they say as to why they don’t feel creative.
Let’s be creative with the word creative. Creativity isn’t just in what we do, but in who we are.
Creativity for me is a way of expressing myself, incorporating my own ideas into what I do and how I do it, a desire to step out of the ordinary and try new things, to think “out of the box”, and to take risks. It means having a flair for beauty and color and design. It means having a zest for life and deepening my connection with my inner child. It means giving myself permission to try something new.
I can be creative in the way I dress, in how I set up my office, in how I relate with others, in how I manage other people, and in how I do my work. I can be creative in the way I write, speak, and act in everyday life.
Being creative is a way to grow, to experiment, to deepen, and to enjoy life.
I am more fully alive when I express my creativity. I love to play the piano, sing, and paint watercolors. Once in awhile I love to get creative in the kitchen and cook up something unique – without a recipe. And when people like it, I make up a title. I also love to be creative in how I dress. In the Washington, DC area where I now live, many people wear dark suits. Dressing in a bright colored outfit accompanied by an ethnic necklace or scarf at professional events is my way of expressing myself and rebelling against the norm, I’m always amazed at how many people compliment me on my outfit.
How can you expand our creativity — even if you believe you are not creative?
- Be aware of what your own voice wants to express, whether in words, actions, dress, cooking, writing, or otherwise. Listen to your intuition. Then, express yourself!
- Try something new or different. I find there is nothing more stifling than doing the same thing the same way over and over. Be bold!
- Courage. As Erich Fromm says “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Go for it!
- Brainstorm. See how many different ways you can come up with to tackle a problem, handle a situation, work with a colleague, etc. We often think there are only 2 ways of doing something – your way and my way, but there are always many more options than we think. Practice being non-judgmental and listing as many options as you can, despite how silly or impractical they may sound. This is how advertising agencies work.
- Don’t limit yourself. Don’t believe your own limiting comments such as “I’m too old to learn to paint/play music”, “I can’t do that.” Plum under the excuses, e.g., “I tried writing once but it didn’t work” ignores the fact that to get good at something we need to practice it. “I don’t have time” belies the fact that when most of us want to really do something, we want find the time. When you go beyond self-imposed limits, you just might find that your life takes on new meaning.
Creativity connects us with our soul and our innermost yearnings.
I love Alan Alda’s description of creativity: “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”
And Albert Einstein says it well, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
So remember your gift and explore your creativity in as many ways as you can. At work you might consider:
- Looking at how you decorated your office – does it express your uniqueness?
- Examining your relationships with your boss and colleagues – could they be improved?
- Exploring how much creativity you put into your work. Are you simply going through the motions and doing the minimum possible to get by, or are you putting yourself into your work and making it truly yours? If the work doesn’t spark you, what can you do to change it?
- What might you suggest at work to enhance the creativity of yourself and others? Brainstorm with others and make recommendations.
Remember, we are ALL creative.
May 2010 be a creative year for you.