How many times have you heard people say, “I am just not the creative type”? I have often run into discussions about creativity and disputes over who holds this particular skill or “lacks” some gene. But, as children, didn’t we all have a desire to know more about the world around us? Why not now?
Sure, not everyone will be the next Rembrandt or Shakespeare, but everyone has the capacity to tap into their not-so-elusive creative mojo. But whether you are a writer, a student, or a business person, each one of us, deep down, has a creative voice that drives innovation. For some, that creative voice may be silenced by the “noise” from our busy lives or the resounding voice of fear. So, how can we hit the mute button?
Cue the inspiration. Elizabeth Gilbert developed quite a fanbase after the release of her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of. Although I haven’t had a chance to read her bestseller, the title of her book published in late last year, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear seemed intriguing and I had to pick it up.
Gilbert divvies out some pragmatic advice on overcoming self-doubt and addressing perfectionism, but what I appreciated was her witty perspectives and the way she challenges and invites you to embrace the fear of ambiguity and change. She describes the six pillars of a creative life: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. One of her core messages is once we stretch our curiosity and break the ice, the creative juices will flow. I agree with her – curiosity is absolutely the spark behind the spark. Novel ideas and innovations are a product of someone’s undefeated curiosity and persistence. So why not use your curiosity to foster creativity at work and reinvent your career?
My Magic Takeaways
Here are some lessons I took away after reading Big Magic:
- Fear can be a positive influence on our creative selves. Gilbert puts it well, “Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome… I made a decision a long time ago that if I want creativity in my life then I will have to make space for fear, too.” Embrace your curiosity and your fear since these are necessary ingredients of our creative process. During times of change and transition, we may be uncertain of the outcome or the results. This allows us to focus on the process of discovery where new boundaries emerge and we create the outcome.
- Learn something new while getting creative, Mei Tan, a researcher who focuses on cognitive skill development at Yale recently used this analogy in an interview by Kinfolk, “It’s not enough to try to draw a tree every day; figuring out what makes the tree hard to draw and tackling that persistently—perhaps by finding a new way to draw it or see it differently—is more the core of the problem. We generally develop skills as we need them. And being creative is sometimes what a person needs to be.” Repetition gives us practice just “doing” things in one way, but it’s experimentation and innovative thinking that pushes us into a new dimension.
- Curiosity can help build authentic connection. Share tools, resources, and ideas with other colleagues. Networking opportunities are just another way to cultivate new ways of thinking. The next time you find yourself feeling stuck during a networking conversation, draw from your curiousity. Create an authentic connection by posing a question to which you would genuinely want to hear a different perspective. If you’re a manager, remember that curiosity can help you drive employee engagement. If you take some time to examine the Engagement Equation, you’ll discover that curiosity underlies Engagement Conversations.
If you are struggling to allow your creativity to surface, I recommend reading Big Magic to possibly find some inspiration to help you tease it out. My hope is that it helps you feel like you can give yourself permission to create some room for more lightness in your work and allow your creative process to shine through.
CURIOUS about how you can Own Your Career through Creativity and Curiosity? Check out our Career Library Resources as well as these other posts:
- Intro to Career Awareness by Terrie Moore
- Innovating & Creating by Tom Holub
- Inclusion with Elizabeth Gillis by Tom Holub
Stay Tuned … Next Book Review: Sophia Dembling’s The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World