Five things we learned in 2023

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2023

It's not often that I set an intention for the year and stick to it.

By the third month, I'm usually marching off on a tangent and by the fifth month, I may even have forgotten that I had intentions in the first place.

This year was different. In early January, both Celia and I captured our aims for the year as part of a vision-boarding exercise with the lovely Isa Gesseau at IbiArt



The word that emerged for me was SOAR. When the word first popped into my head, I thought, "Lord let that word not be spelled sore."

Sadly, it has turned out to be a terribly painful year for many people, not least of which for the citizens of Ukraine, Israel and Palestine. Our hearts are indeed sore as we think of the terrible suffering so many people have endured and continue to endure.

Rather than causing us to give up on humanity, geopolitical warfare and our own unstable political climate in South Africa have spurred us on to work even harder. It's clear that the world needs creative thinking, creative problem solving and a positive possibility mindset now more than ever. Our work has been a soothing balm to us and has, in the words of an associate, "facilitated freedom" and "been an unexpectedly joyful experience," according to some clients.


Looking back over the year, I can see that it has, for Creativity Wake-Up and our team, been characterised by soaring/ rising/ spiralling upwards. We have delivered more creative thinking and innovation workshops, programmes, webinars, keynotes and coaching sessions than ever before (over 330 hours' worth) to more people than we've reached before (over 1140 people.) In addition we delivered around 140 hours of learning to around 630 people through our associations. This year our multi-day programmes (2-day to four-month long programmes) exceeded our one-off talks and workshops. We have been delighted to be able to work with groups of 12 to 25 people over an extended period of time and witness their growth. It has been very gratifying.

In addition, we have run our 6-week spiritual creativity course, Made to Create, again this year. We've recreated the course videos to improve their quality and the course workbook is, as of this week, available globally on Amazon. Hooray! All this is not to blow our own trumpets, but rather to celebrate in joyful wonder, and perhaps a bit of shock at what we have managed to achieve.



What lessons have we learned about soaring this year?

Your situation is likely to be very different from ours, but perhaps there is something we've learned that could be of benefit to you.

1. Stay close to The Source

Prioritising our spiritual practices has kept us grounded and energised through the highs and the lows of the year. We've felt divine providence over our work and owe all we have and all we've been able to do to the grace of God.

2. Surround yourself with creative thinkers

Nature shows us that no organism survives on its own but is always part of a system. The people in our system have been constant source of creative inspiration and encouragement to us. As far as possible, we've guarded our monthly time with our MasterMind* group for female founders. They have challenged, cared for, prayed for, and taught us. We have loved working with our partners, such as the teams at HR Synthesis, GrayFeather Consulting, Connemara Consulting, the NeuroLeadership Institute and GIBS in Joburg and Cape Town, the Creative ID team in Barcelona and Sheffield, and the Biggerplate team near Oxford. These partnerships have supported and complemented us, introduced us to creative thinkers around the world and kept us on our toes. We've learned so much from their generosity, professionalism and sense of fun. Thank you!


3. Keep doing things that scare you

In order to soar we have had to be brave. Each time we've stretched ourselves and taken on new challenges, we have built up our courage 'muscle' a little bit more. As one of our mentors, Lisa Linfield, taught us in our first year, we repeat this phrase in our minds: "I can do hard things." I've been struck by the way in which small accomplishments in overcoming fear on a physical level, have strengthened my mind when facing a design challenge or a daunting workshop. These little physical feats have included doing cold plunges (a big step for a sworn warm-water-only swimmer) and doing a 3-day, anti-cancer water fast. These enabled me to experience what the stoic Marcus Aurelius wrote about: "You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength."

It turns out the magic really does happen outside our comfort zones!


4. Let go of what's holding you back

An eagle gripping a large rock in its talons, will not be able to fly very high, if at all. Likewise, we sometimes cling onto heavy rocks that weigh us down. Maybe they are so familiar, we feel like they are part of us. Maybe we need help prying them loose. In December last year our brother Hugo died tragically from alchohol poisoning. Though he'd suffered many decades of addiction, his passing, along with other factors, woke me up to the realisation that alcohol was a heavy rock in my life. I finally recognised that alcohol was making me more unhappy than happy. Letting go of alcohol was another challenge to face, but one that has brought immense freedom and peace to a divided mind.


5. Don't take yourself too seriously

We say this often to our clients. In fact, this year Celia has delivered many sessions spotlighting creativity and humour. Still, in our own work, we have to be deliberate about not slipping into anxious seriousness and solemnity. We have lightened up by doing things that spark joy, such as treating our 'inner child' to artist dates (solo expeditions for no other reason than to follow our curiosity and delight.) A favourite 'date' of mine this year was spending an hour in a old bookshop browsing titles that caught my eye, with no pressure to buy a gift for anyone. We've also added playfulness to our work and home life, by including new creative warmups in workshops that have our clients in stitches, surprising clients with sweets that are charged with chilli, and wearing glasses in an online session that unexpectedly light up with flashing disco lights.


It's your turn

According to Socrates, "the unexamined life is not worth living." He believed that the point of life was to learn from living. What can you take from this year, even the yukky parts, that can make you more compassionate, wiser, stronger or more creative next year?


*MasterMind Group: Deborah Kirsten, Jacqui Mol, Julia Coovadia and Lisa Linfield



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