You are a creative person if you think you are. We are always quick to dismiss our own creations as unnecessary or otherwise not good enough. We are quick to compare what we create with other pros in the field who have been doing it for decades. We see their works and then wonder, “Who am I to…” Only you are to. We insist that you get to work because we need you! There has never been a time to create in this world like there is right now! Make your default action to create. Cut out the other non-essential in your life and get to work on essential creation. You say you don’t have time to create? Make time to make. As Chase Jarvis says, “Make it ’til you make it.” Keep making. Keep creating. Go find the time to do it. Remember: we need your creative actions. We need you to show up. We need you to get after it creatively.
Create like a 5 year-old.
As young children, we are not focused on what anyone else thinks about our creations. We simply paint. We simply draw. We simply sing. We simply bake. We simply act. We act creatively without concern for how it looks to others. We are encouraged to do so by our parents and teachers. And our peers are encouraged as well. It is a wonderful, self-fulfilling, virtuous circle of positive peer pressure, engagement, enrollment, and encouragement. Then, as Chase Jarvis says in his book, “We school it out of them.” Elementary schools with the best of intentions zap the creativity out of kids as they advance through the ranks and halls.
In Kindergarten, everyone is on the same creative playing field: loose, not tied down, with few creative boundaries and a solid belief and 100% confidence in that what you’re creating is the greatest thing ever. Don’t you miss creating like that? Having that strong confidence of a 5 year-old in your ability to figure things out? Think about looking at things and actions with the zest of a 5 year old, though the eyes of a child. No doubts. No constraints. No worries you’re not good enough. No social comparison. No creative anxiety. No professional comparison. No budget constraints. And no training. Just creating. Just doing. Just going. Just Wonderful. To think that we’ve had the best creative teacher and doer right in front of us the entire time…
Thank you for showing up. We’re expecting you.
If you’re like most people, you stand in your own creative way. You have all the aforementioned worries and fears before, during and after the creative act. You’re worried you’re not good enough. You’re worried about harsh judgment. You’re worried it won’t be perfect. You’re worried what the boss will think. You’re worried that you don’t have enough time. You’re worried it’ll be ripped off. You’re worried someone will accuse you of ripping them off. You’re worried that it won’t make an impact. You’re worried that it actually will be successful, and then what? What would you do then?
It turns out that creativity is a discipline. Creativity is something done every day, like working out. It is just like a set of muscles you have to train every day or else they atrophy, they whither. It is a spark that you ignite that turns into a roaring fire. But you must be the one to light it. It waits for you, just like the people who are waiting for your creation right now. When unused, it sleeps, dormant, like a hibernating bear. But when it is practiced and awakened, it energizes you like two Red Bull energy drinks.
Make the default action to create. Make it feel like you don’t have a choice.
For those who create often, it isn’t a choice — they have to create. Like a professional weightlifter, they don’t even think about the action. It is their mandate to personal & professional development. It is their commitment. They’d probably tell you that they didn’t choose creativity; creativity chose them. But, of course, they chose it. They’ve just been such disciplined doers that it feels like they’re no longer choosing. Their default action is to create. What an exceptional choice that is!
There is no limit to creativity. There is never a destination. There is only the creative journey. If you’re a storyteller, you’re always telling stories. If you’re a painter, you paint, always painting. If you’re a comedian, you are always looking for ways to get more stage time, to tell more jokes. If you’re a singer, singing is your therapy, your release, your vocal, artistic creation. It isn’t a destination. It’s a journey, a set of regular actions, a discipline. No limits here. Only practice.
Do not wait for your creative credential.
There is no need to wait for your creative credentializing. If you wait, you’ll wait a really long time. Good news: there’s no need to wait! Go, now. We need you. There’s no need to wait for the right tools. You have the right tools now. There’s no need to wait for someone to grant you permission. You have all the permission you need right now. There’s no need to wait for your college degree. You have all the training and education you need inside of you right now to go and create. There is no need to wait for your guru’s blessing in order for you to create. You are already creatively blessed. Go, now.
The other great news is that Maya Angelou was right: there is a limitless amount of creativity to be tapped into. You just have to make the choice to regularly tap into it. If you choose to ignore it or think you’re not good enough or feel you need a break from it for some reason, it will go dark for a period of time. The cool thing? It’s waiting for you to tap into it again. It is an endless source of renewable energy so long as you get after it.
The great artists are the prolific ones, the men and women that never stop. They must continue on. It is their art. It is their energy. It is their creative mandate. Why would they ever stop? What would they do? This is what they do. This is where the magic happens — by creating it themselves. To not create and contribute and collaborate is to whither away. There’s too much to be done.
Just like we don’t know our own potential or what we are truly capable of, we also don’t know our own creative potential. Most of us give this no thought. Why would we? Most of us think we’re barely creative at all, just scratching the surface of what those other people can do. Who are you to think those thoughts about yourself? When was the last time you tried? Better, when was the last 10x you tried? The last 50x ? We are so quick to shoot ourselves in the foot before we even begin.
Your creative capability ought to ignite your imagination, something else that may lie dormant inside of you. Imagination isn’t dead. Like creativity, it sleeps inside of you until you choose to tap into it. Remember fun thoughts that always begin with “What if…?” What happened to “What if…?” Where did it go? It’s always been there. We just forgot about it because we were being too practical, too down to Earth, too distracted by the unimportant. Try a few of these: “What if this were perfect? What would it look like?”
Or, “What if we didn’t have to do this? What would happen?”
Or, “What if I cancelled this meeting? Would people cheer?”
Or, “What if we made this decision right now? What’s the worst case scenario?”
Or, “What if we tried this new line of business and decided to get good despite the early difficulty?”
Or, “What if we took away this marketing, would it be missed?”
Or, “What if we didn’t do the trade show and instead, invested the money in customer relationship building?”
Or, “What if I set aside just 30 minutes a day as creative time? And forced myself to sit down or stand up and write / paint / draw / imagine / tell stories / shoot video / take stills? What would I get done after 6 months?”
It’s nice to be needed.
Like a Pixar movie, our creative work is never finished. It is simply released. We must ship. We must publish. We must showcase. We must put it out there. Scary? Perhaps. But the alternative is to hoard our work, and no one aspires to be a hoarder. Why be selfish, keeping it only for yourself? After all, who are you creating for? Who is this work for? Don’t you think about them? Don’t you wake up thinking about them? You do this for them. You create for them. You release and publish for them. Your people. They need you to show up consistently, again and again. It’s nice to be needed, isn’t it?