There was a Newsweek article some years ago titled The Creativity Crisis which indicates that for the first time, American creativity is declining. Ouch. This is very distressing considering creativity is necessary to our existence.
All of us, no matter where in the world we live, are a product of our natural tendencies combined with our environment. If we’re lucky, we grow up in a situation where creativity is cherished (fyi, many other countries are doing far better than the U.S.A. when it comes to encouraging creativity in their children). If we’re not so lucky, staying true to our creativity becomes a great challenge and even a personal crises.
But wherever we come from, creativity sparks fear. And the more people I speak with about creativity, the more I’m convinced that we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to living creativity and fulfilling our creative gifts in ways that contribute to the world. As creative people we are very good at inventing many Noble Excuses that we allow to define us and limit our creativity.
“I’m a single mom, I’m too busy.”
“I have 3 kids who need to go to college – I don’t have enough money to stop doing what I’m doing.”
“I’m devoting my life to others.”
I mean truly, who would argue with me as a noble single mother of 3 children under the age of 11 (with 2 of those being twin boys), when I say, “I’m too busy.” I also work full time, plus I have other projects and responsibilities, on and on, whine whine. Are you with me on this whine fest? There is probably not a person alive who would fault me if I’m not completely living up to my creativity, creative dreams, or creative contributions to the world. But really what you should say is “Poppycock, Karen.” I am certain that many of you also very solid reasons why you accept “less than optimum” from yourself when it comes to your creative potential.
But here’s the thing – are your reasons valid, or are they just Noble Excuses, an elaborate personal psychological dance designed to fool Self?
I’m going to put my money on the latter. Most of us have become masters at fooling ourselves and the world. And if we take this to be true for the moment, what can we do about it? How can we stop fooling ourselves so we fully deliver on our full creative potential?
The first step is to get honest with yourself. Admit it – even if only to yourself. Admit that it’s not about time or money or talent or (fill in the blank). The reason you’re admitting it is to bring it to your conscious awareness – nothing more, nothing less. Which means the good news is the only thing you have to do with this information is be aware.
The second step is to understand your personal creative-avoidance dance. a few examples…
- The Adventurer If you’re a foolish adventurer you start down one creative path only to “realize” that in order to get to the end of that path you must first complete something else…hours later you’ve done tons but not what you set out to deliver. Example: You start to design your new business card then realize it’s going to have your web address so you need to redesign your home page…and rewrite your about information and….time runs out.
- The Selfless Do-Gooder If you’re a foolish selfless do-gooder you devote yourself to taking care of your kids, your aging parent, or your sad friend. Yes, of course, we all have to and want to do this when it’s needed. BUT, if you find yourself ALWAYS taking care of others at the expense of your creative output and fulfillment, then you must take pause and question whether you’re this way because it’s easier than actually facing your creativity.
- The Perfect Creator If you’re a foolish perfect creator then you probably produce creative and innovative ideas and things up to a certain point. And then you tinker, tinker, tinker, redesign, redesign, redesign, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. But you never actually deliver a final product because it’s never “as good as it could be.”
- The Smooth Sailor Smooth sailing, that’s what you like. Fully pursuing your creative endeavors would challenge those around you, maybe even upset them and, of course, we can’t have that. I mean, it’s not worth upsetting your spouse just to “dabble” creatively, right? When you begin to understand the elaborate system you’ve constructed to at all costs to avoid the fear of diving into your full potential then you have a chance of stopping the sequence of events – you can keep yourself on track and actually get your business cards done.
Now I ask you, what’s your elaborate personal psychological dance that you’ve designed to fool your creative self?
-this post is adapted from one I wrote on my writing blog ZenCopy.