One of the cruelest untruths that I hear all too frequently from my coaching clients is, “I am not creative.”
It’s not their fault that they think that way. They probably got that message as a child from a parent or teacher, who got it from a parent or teacher, who got it from a parent or teacher – and so the virus got spread.
It doesn’t help that creativity is universally associated with participation in the arts – painting, writing, dance, theatre, photography, music or whatever. If you don’t do any of those things, how can you call yourself creative?
And then there’s the commonly held belief that if your artistic efforts aren’t making you a rich and famous author, musician or movie star, what’s the point?
These beliefs are so pervasive as to be invisible but they are living rent-free in the minds of most if not all of us.
The thing is, they’re lies. Soul-sucking, confidence-quelling, dreck-depositing lies. Everyone is creative. Creativity is what makes us human and there are as many ways of applying it as there are people – raising a child, preparing a meal, teaching, gardening, constructing a shelter, building a business, solving a problem, making love, practicing the healing arts, devising a spiritual practice, decorating a home… These activities are not limited to the “gifted” or to the wealthy or to those drawn to the arts. They are fundamental to who we are.
As for that message that your creative pursuit has to be a popular success in order to be worth anything, I had to face that one head on, just a few minutes ago.
It followed from a decision I made yesterday — to write a novel. It’s been an unacknowledged longing in me, and it felt great to say yes to it. So this morning I got up early, looked through some notes for an unfinished screenplay that I’d abandoned but never forgotten, and began to consider how I could use it as a jumping off point for a novel.
Later on, I was doing a bit of writing for the project and felt this heavy despondent feeling come over me. What’s going on? Am I not supposed to be doing this? Thankfully I soon recognized it as one of my inner critics delivering that oh-so-uplifting message, “What’s the point?”
Wanda Whatsthepoint at my disservice! Remembering a great tip from the uncomparable SARK, I decided to give Wanda a job. Instead of using her critical eye to crush my spirit and cripple my creative efforts, Wanda could be a quality control inspector at a high-end garment factory — in Prague. Decent wage of 14,000 korunas a month, cool military-inspired uniform, and boundless opportunity to nitpick with impunity. Like magic, with Wanda happily engaged, the despond lifted from my soul and I lived to write another day.
One of the best ways to apply the creativity that we all possess is to effectively dispense with the voices that deny or denigrate it.