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An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. -Edwin Land
You were created to be creative. You are hardwired to think creatively. Unfortunately, most of us do not experience creativity at the level we are capable of. Creativity is the root of all greatness. Many books have been written on the keys to success and so forth and many of those books are very much worth reading. There is something to be said for hard work and perseverance. There is no substitute for those brothers of success, however shoveling dirt from one pile to another is hardly worth the sweat. Creativity is not a substitute for hard work and perseverance, but is rather the spark that makes such work worthwhile. Hard work without creativity is worthless, as is creativity without hard work.
What is the difference between you and the great Creatives of our world? Is creativity a gift for only a select few? Yes and no. Are there some outliers like the DaVinci's and Steve Jobs' of history who have a unique gift for thinking creatively? Yes, but I would like to put forth that creativity is like a muscle. Although there are a gifted few, we all can increase our creative prowess just like we can build any other muscle, namely, through proper exercise and use. Trust me, you have much more in you than you realize.
Why are you not as creative as you should be? I'm sure the answer varies by person, but generally the answer is fear. This is the part where you roll your eyes, and think you are about to get a bunch of psycho babble. Well, I'm no psychologist, but humans are pretty much all the same. From a very early age we are encouraged to be creative. We draw pictures that look horrible and are told they look beautiful. We pretend to be our favorite superheroes and dream of one day conquering the world. We are asked what we want to be when we grow up and are met with encouragement no matter how crazy our answers are. Then, as we get older, something happens, and society is less interested in us expressing our creativity and more interested in conforming to best social practices. I'm not sure exactly when this happens, but it definitely happens. One minute, you are a knight, conquering the world, the next minute you are forced into doing things the way everyone else does things.
Some people never stop dreaming and these people are the people we admire or denigrate. You see, most people can't handle being on the tails of the Bell Curve. Most people can't handle the baggage that comes with being creative. Think about Steve Jobs for a moment. Imagine his life. Once he proved to the world that he was a creative genius he was then under almost constant pressure to continue coming up with the next life changing Apple product. Rarely was an Apple announcement met with neutral opinions. No, people either loved or denigrated Jobs' newest brain child. Human beings are excellent observers of other human beings and we quickly realize that creative people are either loved or hated. Have you ever met someone who had no opinion of an artist? Start talking Picasso with someone and you will be met with adulation or laughter. This is the price the Creative must pay and the question you must ask yourself.
Can you handle the praise and the persecution of being creative? Are you afraid of success? What if you tell someone your ideas and you get laughed at? What if your ideas are met with praise? Can you handle the stress of having to be creative a second, third or even fourth time? What if your creativity runs out? What if people love you because of your creativity? Fear is the root of your monotonous life. Before we begin to start talking about how to increase our creativity we must sit down and take stock of our own thoughts and emotions and recognize that fear of failure or even success could quite possibly be the thing that is keeping us from stepping out and being creative.
Ok, so you agree with me that fear is the problem. What do you do now? Here are five things to remember before you read any further:
So what? If you spend your life worrying about what other people say or think about you then you will never reach your full potential and you are giving people way too much control of your life. Wouldn't it be stupid if Bill Gates took all his critics to heart? Everyone knows Microsoft has plenty of haters. So what? Bill Gates is a billionaire who has produced a product that most everyone in the world who uses a computer uses or has used at some point in their life. Forget the critics. What if Jim Carrey stopped making movies because of the people who don't think he is funny? Do you think successfully creative people have no critics? Do you think they have magically received nothing but praise, adulation and encouragement their entire lives? Of course not.
There will always people who don't like what you do. How many amazing inventions would we be without today if their creators had listened to their critics? Didn't someone once say that the idea of a horseless carriage would never catch on? Didn't someone once say we would never go the moon? Didn't someone once say the world was flat? The neigh sayers are a dime a dozen. Me, I'm going to the moon.
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Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. -Steve jobs
My wife and I had the super cool opportunity to go watch Seinfeld perform at the WinStar last night in Thackerville, OK. (we took the picture above, that's why it's so fantastic) We've always loved watching Seinfeld's TV show so it was special to see him do stand-up live.
I love Seinfeld (the TV Show). Many people do not. Regardless of your personal opinion regarding the merits of this American classic, I put forth that there are a few important lessons we can learn from Seinfeld on the road to becoming more creative. If you are a comedian, preacher, teacher, host or any other type of public speaker, you would do well to watch a few episodes and contemplate Seinfeld's brand of humor.
I remember watching a special program about the making of Seinfeld one day. In it, Seinfeld and show creator, Larry David discussed the spark that would later turn into the show. They were walking through the grocery store one day and an idea hit Larry, what if they made a show about nothing? On the surface this sounds ridiculous. What does that even mean to make a show about nothing? I remember they actually used this particular concept in an episode. George tried to sell this idea to a Network. So, a show about nothing huh? Can you imagine what people's reactions to this must have been? What if Larry David and Seinfeld would have listened to their critics?
I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about Larry's creativity and guts to move forward with such an outlandish idea, but want to focus further on Seinfeld's brand of comedy. Each show begins with a snippet showing Seinfeld, who is a stand-up comedian, both in real life and in the show, doing his act. It doesn't take long listening to his act before you realize that he is a different brand of comedian. He is not wild and crazy like Jim Carrey. He is not off the wall clever and multi-personalitied like Robin Williams. Seinfeld stands in front of the audience and begins his act by saying things like “have you ever?” or “you know what it's like?” He connects with the audience not through his vast intellect or wit, but through a special brand of empathy. Seinfeld masterfully focuses on everyday events that everyone has experienced and paints a picture of these events, describing each detail meticulously. This is an excellent method for anyone trying to be a comedian, but is also extremely useful for those of us who want to be more creative.
Sometimes the key to being more creative doesn’t start with lightbulbs, sparks or other forms of “inspiration.” Sometimes looking at everyday situations and thinking about them for a long period of time can breed high levels of creativity. I don't want to veer off into too much of a rabbit trail, but this an integral component to effective communication. Empathy, personal identification and common experience can quickly create an effective atmosphere for a receptive audience.
Not only is this type of observational thinking effective for communicating it is also a highly effective method to nurture creativity. Yes, many great, world-changing ideas have come from a “spark” or “lightbulb” moment out of no where, but many times these sparks are the result of mulling over a particular problem over and over again. Below are some steps to take and questions to ask yourself to try and cultivate your inner creativity. Make sure you keep a notebook, scrap of paper, napkin or computer handy so you can be ready when creativity hits you.
Congratulations, you have just been creative. Ok, so maybe you didn't have any world changing ideas, but I'm willing to bet you did have a few meaningful things come to mind on how those objects or activities could be changed or improved.
Bonus: Not only have you just proven to yourself you can be creative, but you have also learned the secret to effectively communicate your ideas to an audience. Next time you need to communicate to a boss, co-worker, or audience, think about Seinfeld and the power of observation.
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Hi, I'm Chad Bozarth. These are my encouraging, inspiring, uplifting and life changing words to help you change your life, become a billionaire, marry a supermodel and live forever.