Be Create-ive, not Creative

2 08 2011

We often look to the great artists, musicians and writers as being in an untouchable tier above every one else. Those people are creative and the rest of us are not. Their work belongs in museums or deserves to be published but ours does not.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We all have the capacity to create. Perhaps we just need a shift in our mindsets about what being creative actually means.

What Makes Creative so bad?

When we think of the word creative, we most often take it to mean original. Most people’s concept of creative is of something new, something that no one has ever thought of before. Attaching these connotations to the word can have negative effects and can stop people thinking they can be creative or from even trying to create.

Claiming that for a piece of work to be creative, it has to be an original or new idea, puts a lot of pressure on any people in pursuit of creativity. There’s estimated to have been over 100 billion humans over the entire course of history for tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years, trying to do something completely different from all of them is a tough task, even more so considering that among those people were Da Vince, Picasso, Shakespeare, Monet etc. If we get too caught up in being original, in differentiating ourselves and our work, we might lose focus on what’s most important: the simple act of creation.

Creative is typically a word used most often for achievements in the fine arts such as painting, classical music or literature. But doodles on napkins, a batch of cupcakes or a whistled tune are also acts of creation.

Creativity is also seen as a quality that people either have or they don’t. Even from very early on, if a child paints a particularly good painting or tells an imaginative story, they are labeled as creative while others are not.The problem with viewing creativity as an internal and individual quality is that actually everyone is capable of creating and we all do create things quite often. Believing a creative quality is inherent in some but not others is a misused and potentially harmful fallacy. People who are never called creative can be discouraged from even trying to create.

So What Makes Create-ive better?

Focusing on the verb “create” rather than on the thing created or how it compares to what other people are doing helps us refocus on the actual purpose of creating. The reason people love to create, love to build, love to make art or love to cook is because they experience joy and a sense of accomplishment from the process and from the very act of creating.

It’s time we take away this overemphasis on being original. Even the most creative people are influenced by others. All artists are hacks. They borrow, copy or downright steal from one another. What’s more important than being original and what those creative people really did was put a part of themselves in their work. Let yourself shine through in your final product.

By seeing creativity as a quality that is either turned on or off in someone, we devalue any sort of skill or hard work that people put into their creations. It would mean that every piece of art, every song, every monumental novel is due to that quality. The years that artists and craftsmen put into learning, practicing and training are dismissed. Such a view can also act to discourage people from trying to create. If they don’t immediately pick up a new art form or struggle at first with learning a new skill they might think “Well I just may not be creative.”

Which definition of creative is in your dictionary? Want tips on how to be more create-ive? Check in next week for the second part of our Creativity series.

Image from http://www.americanflagimages.info





5 tools for life change. (And…we’re back!)

25 05 2011

by Maya Mathias

I stopped updating this blog 16 months ago to make HUGE changes in my own life. And I’m now ready to re-launch this ChangePals blog, plus the accompanying it’s-so-freakin’-cool-I-wish-it-were-live-already website (coming this fall) with wiser eyes and a deeper heart.

Since my last post, I’ve learned even more enriching lessons, many of which I’ll share here in the coming weeks and months.

In a nutshell…I’ve moved halfway across the world, made new friends, started a business, secured 6 paying clients in 8 months, hired & trained a couple of interns AND healed a strained relationship with a close relative. Not bad for 16 months’ work.

But it wasn’t easy. No real and long-lasting life change ever is. That’s why the idea behind ChangePals is so powerful. It’s a place where change is your friend, where change is something to be cherished for the growth it brings us instead of the pain it can often cause us along the way.

How can change be your friend?

Think back to anything you accomplished that you’re still immensely proud of. I bet it didn’t come without a fight, hard work or taking a honest look at yourself more than once and saying you could do it. And I bet it involved at least one mentor or good friend who convinced you that it was an accomplishment worth striving for.  A caring someone who supported you when the going got rough and, more importantly, who gave you a kick in the rear when you got lazy and wanted to give up. And ultimately, someone who showered you with kind words and bear hugs when you met your goal.

So….here’s what you can expect from ChangePals:

  1. Inspiration.  We’ll have lots, and lots, and lots (did I forget to say it was lots?) of stories from people who have successfully changed their lives, or have at least learned something about the process of change.  There’s a bunch of science and theory around the idea of change, and we’ll blog about those too, but we also want to focus on the emotional & creative side of change.  You know, those unexpected messages that come to you when you hear someone else’s story and get a little ‘lightbulb’ moment of your own.
  2. Support.  We want ChangePals to be a SAFE and EFFECTIVE place to find the best mentors and friends for your life change.  ChangePals is not a therapy group or a collection of addiction-anonymous associations.  It’s a destination for high-functioning people (like you and me) who just happen to feel stuck in some way.  Between the ideas here and on our new website (launching this fall), we’ll help you ignore the naysayers in your life and find people who can and will cheer you through your change goals.
  3. Resources.  There are a ton of tools and ideas out there about how to make successful personal change.  We aim to blog about the ones that have worked best for us, our friends and our coaching clients.  The tools could be from a best-selling author or our Aunt Susie.  We really don’t care.  All we care about is that people have used it, and that it WORKS.
  4. Motivation.  Yeah, this one’s a tough nut to crack sometimes ain’t it?  The secret is….there is no secret.  ALL of us struggle with a lack of motivation at times.  We just need to keep reminding ourselves of our goal, and to keep our cheerleaders/mentors in the loop so they can help us stay on track.  Most of all, we need to remember not to beat ourselves up when we slip.  We’ll address the art and science of motivation as often as possible in this blog.
  5. Creativity.  In our rush to make it through each day on this earth, we often forget that we are an infinitely creative species.  It’s exciting to be living in a time where all forms of creativity are being celebrated (e.g. storytelling, problem-solving, art, technology etc).  And it’s equally exciting that adults are rediscovering the benefits of play and exploration, especially at work.  Here at ChangePals, we’ll show you how to tap into your creative toolbox to uncover your deepest passions and make the life changes that mean the most to you.
So there you have it.
5 ways that ChangePals hopes to serve you.
5 areas that can guide you through the most sacred and courageous of life choices.
5 beacons to help you design the life you know you’ve always hoped to live.
Tell us…what else would you seek from a friend in change?  Please comment below.