I’ve been working with high performers for over 25 years. One of my more memorable teaching experiences came a few years back when I was facilitating a group of coaches in New York City and someone asked a question about ‘the limits of human creativity.’
After letting the conversation run for a bit, I jumped in and pointed out that while the creative output of any individual would inherently be limited, the source and fundamental principles behind that creativity and the source of our own creative power were unlimited.
I got on a bit of a roll, as I am sometimes wont to do, and before I stepped back off my soapbox I completed my rant with a line that my then 16-year-old daughter immortalized by tweeting it out from the back of the room:
The premise behind this book is the same as the one I shared on that day:
There is an innate creative energy in all of us. It’s the animating spirit that separates the quick from the dead – the life-force that expands our lungs, makes our heart beat, and takes care of every one of our biological functions. If we let it, it will bring fresh new ideas to mind whenever we need them, enabling us to solve any problem and move forward in any creative endeavor.
Our relationship with this energy is the basis of what we call ‘creativity.’ And since this energy is a part of us and we are a part of it, we are all inherently creative.
So, while this is a book about how things are created, it’s also a book about how we can find our role in their creation and embrace that role more fully.
Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of yourself and this book as you read on:
1. Read for insight, not information
I once met a guy who moved from Los Angeles to New York City after the big Northridge earthquake in 1994 destroyed the apartment building in which he was living. Short on cash but determined to make a fresh start as far away from ‘earthquake country’ as he could get, he moved into a tiny apartment in the Bronx.
His first night in the new building, he woke up at 5 a.m. to feel the floor underneath his bed shaking. Horrified that he had somehow managed to be a part of the first recorded earthquake in New York history, he sat down at his kitchen table to catch his breath and consider his options.
Then at 5:30 a.m. the floor started to shake again. Obviously it was an aftershock from the original quake. Another came at 5:45 a.m. And another at 6 a.m.
The fourth time it happened, it dawned on the man that what he was feeling wasn’t an earthquake. It was the subway running underneath the apartment building.
Although the apartment kept on shaking, after having that realization, he never worried about it again.
In the same way, what impacts us most isn’t information (like knowing there are no earthquakes in New York City), it’s insight – the realization of something that’s always been true, regardless of what we happen to believe.
So my suggestion is that as best you can, read through each chapter in the book the way you might read a thriller or some light beach reading. Enjoy it, savor it even, but don’t think you need to take notes or remember everything word for word.
2. Look for principles, not strategies
Most books on creativity, goal-setting, productivity, and performance are packed with ‘how to’ strategies designed to be followed step by step. Will following those steps take you where you want to go? Unfortunately, that’s the exception, not the rule. True creativity is an individual and in the moment process, and there are no guarantees when it comes to results.
However, there are iron-clad principles that we can rely on no matter what. These invisible forces are at work in the world whether we know about them or not. They are as practical as electricity, as powerful as gravity, and as mysterious as magnetism. They make sense of everything we do (or don’t do) with our life and time.
Which is why when it comes to creating, instead of looking for strategies, I encourage you first to seek to understand the principles of creation – not how to do it, but how it actually works. Then you’ll know what to do whatever the situation. And as your insight into the principles behind creation deepens, you’ll find the game of creating gets simpler and more enjoyable to play.
3. Be an explorer, not a researcher
In talking with thousands of people about these principles over the past number of years, I’ve noticed a very distinct difference between people who come to them as though they’re studying for an exam and those who are listening to be impacted by what they hear. And what I’ve realized is that it’s what you actually see for yourself that matters, not what you can repeat when asked.
I think of this as the difference between ‘researching’ and ‘exploring.’ When we ‘research,’ we’re collecting data samples, making comparisons, and drawing conclusions. When we’re genuinely exploring, we come to the conversation with an open mind, ready and willing to throw ourselves into the unknown and see whatever is there for us to see. Instead of listening for ‘the right answer,’ we look to see what’s true.
When it comes to creating the impossible, there’s no final exam – there’s just your dreams and your life. And there are only three ways we can fail to bring our dreams to life, no matter how impossible they may seem:
- We don’t start because we think that it’s futile, pointless, too late, and we’re not the right person to do it anyway, and those thoughts seem real and true to us.
- We stop because our head is filled with thoughts telling us that we’ve left it too late, we’re not having fun, it’s too hard, and it’s not going to happen anyway.
- We run out of time because we made up a time-frame that was too short for the project at hand or because we were handed a time-frame and, for whatever reason, things just didn’t happen in that time.
In other words, we think our way in and out of action all day long. But the wonderful thing about our thoughts is that they’re just thoughts – no more solid than clouds and no more powerful than the power we give them.
So, no matter what you find yourself thinking as we explore your creative potential together, the best advice I can give you is simply this:
Don’t believe everything you think.
Are you ready to begin?
With all my love,