What is it about the first step that can make a new endeavour so hard? Even unachievable. The stony silence of the blank page. The indeterminable dread of the empty spreadsheet. The mysterious darkness beyond the lighted path. Your mind grappling with where to place your foot: How? When? Where? Should I? Can I?
I am experiencing this first-step fright as I undertake simultaneously to begin a journey to develop my creativity, whilst at the same time developing learning to help others do the same. Two wise people recently said to me, on two separate occasions, “Stop going on courses and trying to get more qualified, you banana*! <my addition*> You have everything inside of you that you need. Just start.” (You know who you are @TanyaVanderWaal and @LisaLinfield.) It was just the kick in the pants I needed.
So here goes.
I have this weird sense that my whole life has been a slow process of waking up. I love waking up. Let me clarify. I love waking up to being aware of new facts or understanding something that I didn’t understand before. Whenever I learn something new, I take a mental look around and think, ‘Wow, how have I not known this before? I’ve been fast asleep in relation to this. But, I’m unconscious no more. I see it now!’
As a learning experience designer and facilitator, I love watching people wake up to new things; seeing the proverbial 'lights going on.’ It’s a privilege and a joy to be part of that process. There are mini wake ups, like from little naps, where a salesperson grasps a handy new selling method or a manager connects the dots between her role and the company strategy. Then there are the big wake ups. I’m talking about Sleeping Beauty waking up from one hundred years of a strange coma requiring no life support or cryogenic freezing. It’s the wake up you feel when you recognise a hidden motive in your life, discover a real talent or unearth your true purpose.
Waking up your creativity thinking is a big wake up. Not just because it’s so thrilling but because at a neurological level, when we start firing up our brain to think creatively for a specific task, we are training it to think creatively in other areas too. The new brain science is fascinating but a bit too big of a subject to get into here. Suffice to say, recent studies show that when you think creatively, the 'Big Three’ networks in your brain (the default network; the executive network, and the salience network) start to operate as more of a team. When researchers from Harvard, Yale and others last year compared brain scans of people engaging in creative work compared to those that were not trying a creative task, they found more connections being made between the areas commonly associated with those three networks. So waking up creativity starts to rewire our brain and build new connections that help us to think differently in the future.
What I love is that the creativity spills from the area that you are focusing on, to other areas in your life. If you start expressing your creativity in a hobby, you will see that creativity starting to come out in your work. When you get creative with your kids, you’ll notice your creative problem solving starting to improve. Waking creativity is an ongoing process that is a virtuous circle. Starting to experiment with your creative thinking begets more creative thinking. Yay!
Come with me!
So although I think I do some creative thinking already, I really want to boost my creativity and see what happens. It’s an experiment! It’s not going to happen overnight, I know. It will involve some persistence, grit and hard work. But right now, I’m all about the small, little steps for today. One day at a time. I’m psyched for this ride. I invite you to be a travel-buddy with me as I apply some of the many great tools, exercises and practices out there to develop creativity and share with you what works for me. Bon voyage to us!
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"If you wait until you are ready, you will be waiting the rest of your life." Lemony Snicket