10 Steps to Spring Clean Your Creativity

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney CompanyAccording to Drs. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, creativity falls under the values heading of “wisdom and knowledge.” In their writings, found in their handbook of Character Strengths and Values, “Creativity is a cognitive strength of thinking that is used in novel and productive ways to understand and accomplish things. It is NOT limited to artistic expression alone.” In other words, you don’t have to be a musician or a painter to have creativity or to be creative.My mind is always working. Even while I’m sleeping I’ve learned to keep a pencil and paper on my night table because on any given night I could wake up with an idea that I don’t want to forget so I write it down in my sleepy state. I can’t always decipher what I’ve written but the gist of the thought is there.Sometimes I wish I could take a vacation from my mind, just leave it home and just breathe without wondering about everything there is to wonder about. It’s not really a good idea for me to do this because I’d lose a very important part of who I am. BUT… What if I could spring clean my mind instead?Recently, I volunteered to do something creative that I’ve never done before: work with a colleague to produce a virtual-workshop to present to our coaching community. Our workshop was on the topic of home business loneliness and we specifically centered our presentation on loneliness prevention strategies that exist with regard to the mental isolation and geographical isolation of running your own home business. This was very challenging for me because I had high expectations for my presentation and also had certain content criteria I had to meet. I got clear in my mind about what I wanted to present and gave myself a pep talk. My mind, my brain, my spirit, my creativity were all challenged and as a result raised in consciousness.The short story is that the workshop was a huge success filled to the brim with giveaways, resource lists, hope and passion. The long story is that it involved a lot of research, practice time, re-writes and a spring cleaning of my own personal doubts. I found that anxiety and perfectionism are the enemies of creativity. I stayed with my objective to meet my participants’ needs as well as maintain my passion for this subject. I needed to stay focused, creative and empathetic and curious.The take away for me after stretching myself with this workshop is that everyone has the ability, capability and tools to be creative. We just have to clean out old notions of what creativity means and open our minds to what we can discover when the clutter clears away.Where To Begin”Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”
Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to CreativityWhere does one begin to spring clean the mind to discover creativity? I think it’s important to know that at its core creativity is valuable. This means, “The created product and its creator have brought beauty, elegance and/or function into the world”, so says Drs. Peterson and Seligman. They go on to say that “creativity is trait-like, meaning it’s an everyday creative who can use objects to create something new from something old.” For example: someone who rearranges furniture to create more pleasing aesthetics to a room and create better function, or the person that changes an ingredient in a recipe to make it their own dish. Creativity is and should be fulfilling. Creation on any level just feels good.Just like when you get ready to spring clean your garage or attic, spring cleaning your mind to allow for creativity opens emotional doors to worlds you’ve yet to discover.Tina Turner said it best when she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to let everything else go and purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it, because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”In order to gain perspective, ask yourself:1) What is possible?2) Who will this affect/benefit?3) If this doesn’t lead to the result I want, would I still be glad I took the time to work on it?Your answers could be personal and in most ways should be. If you are going to benefit, if you are going to be positively affected, if this is important to you, then everyone around you will benefit as well.Every day “creatives” leave room for curiosity, open-mindedness and critical thinking. Are you an in the box every day creative meaning you only seek creativity within the structure of your daily routines or an out of the box everyday creative meaning that you follow where your thoughts and ideas lead you whether it was on the t0-do list for the day or not? I am learning to be an out of the box every day creative by practicing it. I stay present in my daily agenda and goals, I do the creative things that I feel passionate about and allow myself to explore more deeply the things I am curious about, and I allow myself time to breathe and get clear so that I can be ready for the next idea to wash over me.As scary as it was to create and deliver my workshop presentation, I allowed myself to enjoy the time spent on the research. I enjoyed the collaboration process with my colleague. The feedback from the participants was so much more than I could have ever imagined. The content was something I really resonated with and, therefore, it allowed for my own richness and passion to come through. Participants used words like empowering, uplifting, over-flowing. Passion and curiosity created content, content created interest, interest created exploration, exploration created creativity for out of the box research and open-mindedness.Best- selling author, Michael Neill says,”If we treat whatever stands in our way as an obstacle, we can bring the full creative resources of our mind to bear on the situation and find ways to get over, around, or through it.”Being scared was my obstacle and I am so glad to have found a way to get over it and through it. I am armed for next time.What are some ideas we can all practice toward becoming more creative? To free our minds; to spring clean what we know and allow for the unknown to propel us toward new discoveries?10 Stepping Stones to Becoming more Creative:1- Meditation breathing: This allows for you to begin the positive open-minded flow of ideas2- Visualize: What do you want? Get clear, see your ideas.3- Stay present: Don’t spring ahead or fall behind with your ideas.4- Don’t forget your funny bone: According to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher of the successful book, “The Levity Effect”, incorporate fun and humor into your agenda and project. Bring fun snacks, spin around in your chairs while brainstorming, tell a joke, keep fun toys nearby like silly putty, paper airplanes, etc., play great music. Lightening up, approaching from a fun point of view allows for out of the box thinking and powerful creativity.5- Journal your journey: This will allow you to keep moving your thoughts and creativity forward and to not forget what you want to achieve without the pressure of cluttering your agenda or goals.6- Get physical: Use warm up exercises to get you ready for the days’ tasks even if it’s physical tasks. This gets your mind, your heart and muscles determined and ready. It lets your happy cells and happy chemicals (endorphins) flow through you to feel energized toward your accomplishments.7- Recruit: If your task is too big for just one person, ask for help. “The more the merrier” cliché applies here.8- Time Out: Music breaks, food breaks, journaling breaks, walking breaks. BUT… don’t sit too long or your momentum could suffer.9- Step back, take notice: Allow for perspective and evaluation. Allow yourself to feel grateful for every tiny step you take toward your goal. Allow gratitude for your interpretation, your voice, your spirit.10- Celebrate: Acknowledge your success by celebrating your every accomplishment. Creativity is a celebration, a great and wonderful, out loud reflection of YOU. Be proud and celebrate.Inspiration To Get You StartedI recently came across a story that I think gets to the heart of creativity:An Old Sioux LegendIn ancient times, the Creator wanted to hide something from the humans until they were ready to see it. He gathered all the other creatures of creation to ask for their advice.The eagle said, “Give it to me and I will take it to the highest mountain in all the land,” but the Creator said, “No, one day they will conquer the mountains and find it.”The salmon said, “Leave it with me and I will hide it at the very bottom of the ocean,” but the Creator said, “No, for humans are explorers at heart, and one day they will go there, too.”The Buffalo said, “I will take it and bury it in the very heart of the Great Plains,” but the Creator said, “No, for one day even the skin of the earth will be ripped open, and they will find it there.”The creatures of creation were stumped, but then an old blind mole spoke up. “Why don’t you put it inside them-that’s the last place they’ll look.”The Creator said, “It is done.”In the very popular book “The Artist’s Way”, author and teacher Julia Cameron lists 10 basic principles of creativity. The one that resonates with me the most, the one that inspires me is her #4 principle: “We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to create.”The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Every thought you produce (create), anything you say (write, sing, etc… ), any action you do, it bears your signature (creativity).”Deepak Chopra writes, “The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”To all of these great and wonderful inspirational thoughts and words I say, never stop creating who you are and who you want to be. No one suffers for your intuition, your courage, or your curiosity.Spring is a great time for renewal, regeneration, release. Clean out what is holding you back and get your creativity on.Call to ActionWhat did you take away from the Old Sioux Legend?How can you use this legend to spark your creativity?What would you like to explore this year, this spring, that you have been holding yourself back from exploring?I challenge you to spring clean your mind and explore the endless possibilities of what you see and what you allow yourself to find. All it takes is one thought, one idea, one spark and your big deep breath to say “I can do it.”

Creativity and Motivation – Traits From Within

IntroductionThe “entrepreneur” is one who creates a new business in the hopes of making a profit. If this is a valid definition of the term, then it is essential that businesses today utilize “entrepreneurial skills” in order to compete against rival corporations and small businesses that have become an even greater threat than before.Akio Morita is known to have said that initially Sony had three years of competitive-free sales before a rival came up with a product that bit into their margin but near his retirement, that “window” had changed from three years to three months. As the time to market is decreasing rapidly due to the increase of global competition and other powerful market forces, companies can no longer follow their traditional ways of product development. All businesses that wish to do more than just survive must think like the entrepreneur.Listen to marketersMarketers know that it takes a tremendous amount of time, money and effort to create new customers compared with keeping current customers. They know that their most valuable asset is the customer they already have. Following this logic, does it make sense to invest a huge amount of time and money to hire on a bunch of “avant-garde” thinkers to create explosively innovative products and services when the resource may already be within the company’s ranks? Can businesses in these lean times afford to do so? I do not think so. Those that are best suited to create new and valuable products which are in harmony with the business plan and goals are those that are already in the system; the employees.It doesn’t end with creativityEntrepreneurism does not end with creativity. Many people can create amazing concepts. Those concepts then need to be turned into products and services which meet the needs of the market and are PROFITABLE for the organization. What good is an idea with no reality? It has little value. In order to succeed, organizations must have the creativity as well as the ability to act upon that creativity in order to bring ideas to market profitably. This is the power of the successful entrepreneur.Valuable traitsWhat kind of traits do these individuals usually possess? The entrepreneur is often seen to possess a:·Desire for responsibility·Preference for moderate risk·Confidence in own ability to succeed·Desire for immediate feedback·High levels of energy·Future orientation·Skill at organization·Ability to see value in achievement over moneyIf companies want employees to possess these kind of traits, they need to develop the environment that fosters such. How can they do this? I believe that if we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we can find the answer.Up your hierarchy!Not everyone agrees with Maslow and his hierarchy of needs which states that every individual must have certain needs met before they can move up the hierarchy to the next level. To me, it makes perfect sense. We can look around the world at the starving countries and ask ourselves, “why do they pollute so badly? Why don’t they care about the world?” The answer is that they are too busy trying to survive to think beyond. Once those survival needs are met, they can progress to looking at the world differently.At the highest level of the hierarchy is self-awareness. Once employees have their basic needs, and other intrinsic needs met, they are able to begin to think beyond what they “want” and focus on other aspects. This is where creativity comes into play. We all know that extrinsic motivation rarely lasts forever. Look at weight loss clinics and network marketing as two good examples. After the top people give their pep talks, everyone is pumped. When they all return to their normal world, that motivation disappears. Look, however to those people that are motivated from inside themselves; they are the creators, the individuals that can come up with the most amazing things.Reward is a key criterionCompanies need to create the environment that empowers the worker to that higher level so that they feel they are important in the organization. When they have self-worth, and confidence, when they are rewarded for their efforts, then the creativity will flow from the intrinsic motivation. Eisenberger and Shanock have shown that “when individuals believe they can obtain rewards by being creative, they become more creative. The expectation that creativity will be rewarded causes individuals to define the task as requiring creativity, to become immersed in it, and to search for novel ways of carrying it out.” 1By providing the tools required to get the job done, education to enhance thought processes, empowering workers to produce excellence and rewarding them for doing so, employers will not only develop their own employees abilities to create, they will improve their competitive advantage in the market by increasing the invaluable asset known as knowledge. By instilling in employees a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom they will further enhance a creative orientation. 2Creative tension is a key criterionIn addition to this, by fostering a creative tension that is not based on emotional or anxious pressures, people will begin to see the gap between what they want to get done, and the reality of the situation. They will then be able to focus on the gap utilizing energy to make it smaller until goals, visions and reality converge. From this creative tension will flow the motivation. Companies must foster this kind of environment. 3ConclusionIf organizations want to succeed and excel at global competition, they need to push their employees to challenge conventional wisdom, and give them the tools and the autonomy to test out their non-conventional ideas. Thinking they need to go on a “search for creativity and intrinsic motivation” will hinder their need for speed. Instead of looking for these abilities, they should implement the tools and adjust the environment to empower the employees to develop creativity and intrinsic motivation from within.References1. Eisenberger, R., & Shanock, L. ‘Rewards, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity: A Case Study of Conceptual and Methodological Isolation.’ Creativity Research Journal, 15, 121-130, 2003. (no longer available online)2. Feynman, R. P. ‘The pleasure of finding things out: The best short works of Richard P. Feynman.’ Cambridge, MA: Perseus 1999.3. Lori Reisenbichler, ‘Creative Tension: A Crucial Component of Creativity in the Workplace’, Center for Collaborative Organizations , University of North Texas. 2005/10/27. Retrieved from: http://www.workteams.unt.edu/literature/paper-lreisenb.html.

Creativity is Not Enough – 3 Ways to Make a Difference

Do you enjoy the sudden rush from having a new idea? Do your toes curl with excitement when you see new possibilities? Does your heart pound at the emergence of a new insight?So what? What do you do with the energy? It has to go someplace or it will quickly dissipate. Don’t get left holding an empty bag.Children bounce from idea to idea with boundless energy. we admire their creativity and playfulness and try to recapture that enthusiasm when we are being creative at work and in our businesses. But children don’t pay rent or have mortgages or deal with insurance or irate bosses or traffic. They don’t have the same energy sinkholes that drain our emotions. They don’t have to deliver to a deadline or meet a bottom line.We need ways of harnessing the powerful force of our imagination and turning it into productive useful products and businesses. We have to find ways to recharge our batteries after the daily grindHere are 3 ways to help you harness that creativity that’s inside all of us:1. A Master Journal: You need your purpose and vision statement in writing, and an active part of your life every day. Making commitments in writing are the most powerful force in getting you from idea to action. That’s true for weight loss, career goals, and life missions. Do it and watch the difference it makes.2. A Master To-Do List; Get those actions on to paper as quickly as you think of them with a priority and a time for completion. See how they stack up with all the other good ideas, and then make sure you are choosing to do things that move you the furthest towards your goal today.3. Do 1 good thing everyday: not for yourself but for the world. Give back to the world for the opportunity it has given you to live and breathe, without thought of yourself. Give graciously and without thought of reward. You can do well by doing good. You will be rewarded in so many ways. Your enthusiasm will double, the good ideas will pop into your head, and its all because you have opened yourself up to receive by your selfless act of giving.Do these 3 things and the path to connect your creativity to positive outcome will be revealed. You and the world will be the better for it.