The power of creativity in one’s life is highly underrated. Developing this talent can directly affect your success and happiness. And as a life coach, I have found creativity a very important component of personal problem solving. The more my clients can think outside the box, the more likely we can find a solution to their problems.
The ability to be creative is hindered by one major thing: our unwillingness to be wrong. When we think we need to be absolutely right, or that things have to be perfect, we shut down our openness to new possibilities. How? Creativity is all about taking risks. You may be “wrong” most of the time. It’s about trying different approaches, new thoughts about something, until one “fits.” And usually when something does fit, because you have been willing to be wrong, the solution is much better than you could have expected.
There is a process for creativity. Sometimes, in a flash, we get ideas that seem to be from the gods themselves. And then sometimes, it’s slow. Creative blocks are common for even the most creative people. And no matter what is done, it feels like the problem will never be solved. Yes, we can “encourage” creativity by having a more open mind, but very often, creativity can’t be rushed.
There is a reward, though, in this experience. It’s the opportunity to become more comfortable with waiting, with trusting the process. When coaches say, “trust the process,” they mean that there will be times when there appears to be no solution. When this occurs with my clients, they usually become very discouraged. But as a coach, I get excited. Why? I have been there before so I know this is the moment to let go of what’s supposed to be to make room for what could be. During such moments, our brains, like a computer pausing to load the next screen, put us on hold while they create new ideas. It’s about getting comfortable with the pause and not aborting the creation before it comes to fruition.
How can you work on creativity?
- Free writing: Pick a topic. Anything! Cats, trees, Mississippi. Then write one page about that topic. Two rules: Don’t stop writing once you start, and don’t judge what you are writing. The goal of this exercise is not to create a great piece of writing. The goal is to get comfortable just letting your thoughts flow. Many times we have an inner critic that stops us right at the moment true creativity is about happen. It’s about hearing that inner critic and continuing anyway.
- Try something new each week: Creativity is about expansion. Doing something you have never done before reminds you of new possibilities. It also increases your experience repertoire to use in your creativity. I often hear successful people saying something like, “I randomly walked down this new street on my way home and the idea for my bestseller just came to me.”
- Stop judging yourself harshly: Work on letting go of negative self-talk. A sure way to squelch creativity is by putting ourselves down. Yes, we can have thoughts that don’t work. That doesn’t mean we are dumb or worthless. When you start to beat yourself up, just stop. Then tell yourself “delete” and think of one positive thing about yourself. I know this may sound silly but I know from personal experience this exercise really can work.
This week, become aware of your level of comfort with creativity. If you find yourself being nervous or scared of moments calling for creativeness, give yourself permission to be wrong. In fact, expect a lot of wrong answers. But if you can do this, get ready for some unbelievable answers as well!
“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.” —Alan Alda