Pipeline to Creativity: 5 Ways to Open the Valve
There is an endless supply of inspiration waiting to be tapped into.
How many times have you thought, “I’m not the creative type. I can’t draw, paint, or even sew a curtain.” When I hear people say that I can’t wait to debate them. You know why? Because I think everyone has the capacity to be creative. I think it is a fallacy we tell ourselves and an unfortunate, subconscious decision that limits us unnecessary. Not only does this story reduce our capacity to achieve personal fulfillment but it has the pervasive ability to infiltrate every aspect of our lives.
The very act of living is one of creation and artistic expression. Every thought, every choice, every action is a manifestation manufactured by our essence. While it certainly appears we are directed to do things because of cultural, religious, and familial structures in place, we make choices every day that are either in alignment or against those expectations. The product of those choices represents a real-time, real-life example of the permission we grant to the emotions, ideas, people, places, and things surrounding us. Whether we produce a monochromatic or technicolor experience is up to us. Our life is our canvas. Our work of art depends on the approach we take and the tools we use to draw, paint, or create what resides within our heart and dares to be expressed. And I believe – opening the valve is easier than you think!
EMBRACING YOUR CREATIVITY
I use to think that my creative approach to life was a bad thing. It was an awkward differentiator. I would hide my personal and professional achievements from colleagues and friends to avoid the confused glances, silent judgement, and frank disbelief. For certain, I felt different. Like an alien amongst humans. What made it worse, I am not a prideful person. I don’t do what I do out of competition or for personal glory. I'm in awe with our world – good and bad – and ardent about understanding it. I believe, there is always opportunity when we commit to exploration of understanding and respectful dialogue. I am devoted to learning new concepts and hearing people’s stories. When someone shares their vulnerabilities and lessons, I can see, hear, and feel their moments, witness their humanity, and believe in their capacity. Their aspirations and accomplishments, their passions and convictions inspire me.
After two decades of suppression, I have finally realized that my love for learning, my self-trust, and my optimistic approach to problems are not aberrations but gifts. I may not have a career path that is easily understood by linear thinkers but I can confidently say that I have followed my heart, remained true to my moral compass, experienced life for all it is worth (for better or worse), and have never been bored - not even once - because there is an endless supply of inspiration waiting to be tapped into.
Many of the traits I have hidden are qualities that can offer abundance and fulfillment. They are simple approaches to life that add value to our experiences, enhance our relationships, and reconnect us to mission. When we venture off-course we are able to find our way home when we embrace our creativity. We are not dependent on others for answers. The canvas before us is ours and ours alone. We control the colors and the style. And, most importantly, we choose who we create with and what we communicate. Our expression is our choice.
5 WAYS TO OPEN THE VALVE
If you are tired of feeling detached and uninspired, below are five ways to open your creative valve and experience a life of capacity, opportunity, and personal fulfillment. But beware, the pipeline does prefer positivity. While the valve can co-exist with negativity, you will achieve superior results with a “can-do” attitude.
1. View Problems as Opportunities – Our species has perfected our ability to manifest problems. Everything from waking up to going to bed is potentially problematic. I mean, let’s get real, problems are and will forever be a reality as long as we live. But what if we stopped viewing problems through a negative lens? What if we inverted those perceptions and took responsibility for the choices that led us to this place. Most likely no one fully forced us to be where we are (at least no one other than ourself). So, if no one is forcing us to stay where we are, why not approach life with positivity? Instead of being defeated by every challenge, confront each situation with a solution. Solve the problem. With a solution in place an opportunity for happiness can exist. Problems aren’t going to go away. But, by seeing them as opportunities we learn how to push past them faster. We can spend less time festering and wallowing and more time learning, playing, and connecting.
2. Fall in Love with Learning – I often hear my clients lament as they reflect on their primary school experience. It was neither enjoyable or expansive. Unfortunately, our most influential years are spent in this environment and this experience sets the stage for the rest of our lives. Many of us report an apathetic approach to education because we endured nearly two decades of passive learning. As a result, our capacity to find enjoyment in acquiring knowledge is inhibited. When we spend most of our days being spoken to and being told what to do, it comes as no surprise we graduate into adulthood with limited skills to conceive of our own questions, analyze our situations, and independently solve our problems? Under those circumstances, it is pretty clear why we feel helpless and hopeless for most of our adult lives.
But what if learning wasn’t about tests and scores and grades that we pass or fail? What if it was about self discovery: seeking answers, solving mysteries, and acquiring knowledge driven by a personal desire for expansion? Learning should be an active, engaging experiencing done for the sake of capacity, connection, and possibility. Because everything we do offers us more skills and more tools to be more successful in any endeavor we chose to undertake. Learning isn’t a burden. It affords us new perspectives, different approaches, and a window to a view that everything adds value. Fall in love with asking questions and be open to the answers. When learning becomes as natural as breathing and as important as eating, life is never boring and choices are never limited.
3. Engage Both Sides of your Brain – After falling in love with learning, commit to using both sides of your brain. Like a muscle, the more you work both hemispheres the more exercise they get. As they gain more experience they become more capable and effective. As they come into their own and glean more self-confidence so do you. They collaborate and work synergistically. Logic and linear thinking greatly benefit from imagination and intuition – and vice versa. Problems that would previously present stress and strain are less challenging. There's simply more choices and tools to find an appropriate solution. In combination with a positive attitude and a desire to learn, your brain will exceed your expectations and offer you insights and solutions you would not have had the ability to conceive of before.
4. Stop Telling Yourself Stories that Limit You – There are few things that are more capable of squelching our feelings of success and sense of fulfillment than the unhealthy stories we tell ourselves over and over again. “I was never good at that. I am not good enough. I will make a fool of myself. I don't know enough.” When do these lies stop limiting you? Only when you tell them to. However you choose to package your life experiences is your choice. Reflect on that story. Is it the one you want to tell? I’m not saying you should lie. What happened happened. But is it possible that some aspects of those tales don’t deserve to hitch-hike any more on the back of your dreams. Consider how you talk about yourself. Is it an empowering speech? Do you feel a sense of pride for all you have accomplished? You have come a long way – and did most of it on your own. Tell your truth in a manner that respects your tenacity, coaches up your spirit, and inspires you to new heights. Once you stop permitting stories that your negative self likes to tell you, low-self esteem and inability will be no match for the creativity and opportunity staring back at them.
5. Trust Yourself – No matter the size of the success, you have been successful. Each day is a success of monumental proportions. Waking up, getting it done, going to bed, and doing it again is hard – and you did it. Trust yourself to be resilient and to find the answers needed to solve whatever problem crosses your path. You will be able to tackle any challenge with a positive attitude, a love of learning, a robust brain, and stories of strength. When you identify a weakness, you will see an opportunity for growth.
With these tools you will never be bored, incapable, or uninspired. You will be dedicated to acquiring knowledge, skills, tools, and the disposition needed to tackle whatever lies ahead. The only problem you will be faced with now is how to turn off the value.