When the word ‘creativity’ is used, we generally understand it as the ability to create something physical and unique. Creativity is often taken in the context of art and literature. But there is more to creativity than that. In our life and our job the only thing that is constant is change. Our ability to deal with changes dexterously is called creativity. It requires us to be willing to step away from easy answers and quick solutions and to look beyond the familiar into uncharted territory. Ultimately, creativity is about risk and courage.
Every aspect of life requires us to be creative. As circumstances change, we should be able to dance in the moment.
There are numerous instances of people who can teach us and inspire how to be more creative. One of the most intriguing is sure Walt Disney. Walt Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterizes the fundamental process of all successful creative people: the ability to grasp, synthesize and simplify very basic yet quite sophisticated principles.
Disney wasn’t just a creative thinker. As a committed Realist, he made things happen – and even his dreams were rooted in reality.
One of the Disney’s animators said: “There were actually three different Walt’s: the dreamer, the realist and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting“
Robert Dilts noticed that Disney had three separate approaches to his creative work and he alternated between these roles. Each role has a distinct orientation in relation to creative process:
- the dreamer is the place of free association, brainstorming and even fantasies
- the realist is the place of action, of imagining putting the dreams into the physical world and
- the critic is the place of testing the soundness of your idea’s, checking in on what will or won’t work.”
Dilts believes that we each have a part of us that can identify with these roles. However, some of us are more of one than another.
What happens if we don’t find a balance?
“A dreamer without a realist cannot turn ideas into tangible expressions. A critic and a dreamer without realist just become stuck in a perpetual conflict. A dreamer and a realist might create things, but they might not be very usable ideas without a critic. The critic helps to evaluate and refine the products of creativity.”
The question is how you can use Disney’s Creativity Strategy in your everyday life and business to become more succesful?
Every creative projects needs to incorporate the three aspects of creative imagination, practical action and critical refinement. For each project you work on, make sure you cover all three bases.
The questions may help you:
- The DREAMER questions:
- “What is it that you want to do?”
- “Why do you want to do it?”
- “What are the pay-offs?”
- “When can you expect them?”
- If you could have a magic wand and do anything you like – what would you create? How would it look? What could you do with it? How would that make you feel?
Attitude: Anything is possible.
- The REALIST questions:
- “How specifically will these ideas be implemented?”
- What’s your plan?
- “How will you know if the goal is achieved?”
- What resources do you need to make this happen – people, money, materials and technology?
- “Who will do it?”
- “When will each step be implemented?”
- “Where will each step be carried out?”
Attitude: Act ‘as if’ the dream is achievable.
- The CRITIC or EVALUATOR questions:
- “Who will this idea affect and how will it affect them?”
- “Why might someone object to this idea?”
- What obstacles will you face? How will you overcome them?
- “Where and when would you not want to implement your idea?”
The critic defines the context in which it may not work and preserves any positive aspects of the present situation, defines any refinements.
You can only get so far by trying to play all three roles yourself. You can achieve much more by partnering with people whose natural strengths complement your own.
Use Disney’s Creative Strategy to improve your life and your work and don’t forget to keep looking forward, opening new doors and doing new things. Create your stories! Create your success! Create your life!
Bob Proctor said: „the mind is a terrible thing to waste“. You can focus your mind to get whatever you want and live a fantastic life of perpetual achievement. Or you can bounce around like the silver ball of a pinball machine and basically get nowhere. Either you control your focus or the winds of life control you, tossing you this way and that.
People often come to me to help them get rid of the stress. They are prepared to invest significant amount of money to „kill that devil“ in a shortest time possible.
Usually, they end up being surprised after I tell them that stress is something they cannot get rid of, no matter how much they want it.
If we peek into literature for an advice, legendary John Faustus got two options from Mephistopheles to manage stress:
- Abandon his ambitions and live out his allotted years in a serene and unchallenging routine
- Sell his soul, pursue his ambitions, but die in seven years
James E. Loehr in his book „Mentally Tough“suggests us that the modern stress version of this infernal dilemma goes another way:
- Avoid all potential sources of stress – that is all challenges and changes – and you can be healthy and if fortunate, long-lived
- Confront a life full of change and challenge. Such a life will almost certainly be short, brutish, and nasty though, because all that stress will pay its toll on both mind and body.
On the surface, it could sound reasonable, but the truth is we cannot avoid some sources of stress as the death or serious illness of a family member, loss of employment, close friend abandoning us, etc.
We have to accept that stress is our long term partner who we cannot divorce, but we hold a key to stay happily married ever after.
Faustus dilemma comes from a traditional view, where stress is something that results from external events, but the emerging truth tells us different story. Whether an external event is stressful or not is not determined by the event itself, but by our emotional response to event. And we don’t need to kill ourselves to get rid of the stress, or let Mephistopheles do that for us. Instead of it, we can pursue our dreams and at the same time learn to manage stress better. So, there is a hope.
The most appeling question that arises on a horizon is how can we do it and where lies the Holy Grail (the final solution). And the answer is: „ It lies in the process of knowing ourselves better and raising awareness of our successful and less successful coping mechanisms. It is a life-long learning process with no guaranteed outcome.
Anyway, here in this article, I would like to put an emphasis on the first step of the journey. And it should be awareness. We have to become aware that as Victor Frankl suggest us „Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom“.
We cannot choose what life will bring us, but we can wisely choose to accept the things we cannot change, to change things we can and to learn step by step how to know the difference.
When it comes to stress events I suggest you to ask yourself following questions:
- „What facets of this situation or adversity can I potentially influence? As opposed to those you may consider beyond your control. Becoming utterly obsessed with what you can influence opens worlds of possibilities and that means investing energy in engagement and not in worrying.
- „How can I get through this as quickly as possible?
- What can I do to minimize or contain the downside of this situation?
- What can I do to optimize the potential upside this situation?
- What will I do and when? Answer to that question is in most cases when you least feel like stepping up. But, if you do it, it will give you so wanted traction and control.
In the end we must admit that we all have our demons, stresses and fears that influence our life and nobody can blame us – it is a part of being human, but also each day after opening our eyes, unlike Faustus, we can decide (as Madonna suggest us)”who is the master and who is the slave”.
I’ve always loved stories, fairytales, myths and metaphors, because they refer directly to our hearts and souls. One of my favorite metaphor story is the story of “Hero’s journey” (developed by Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts). Today, I decided to share with you my version of the steps that every “Self – employed hero” has to go through:
1. Hearing the call – „I want to become self-employed“
Every journey begins with a calling. Often the call to action comes from a challenge, a crisis, a vision or somebody in need. Something has been lost and needs to be regained; some great challenge has arisen and needs to be met.
A call to self-employment comes from the same place. All of a sudden, you start telling yourself: “I want to be my own boss”; “I am not happy anymore making someone else’s dream comes true”; “I just want to try something new and go on an adventure” or for example you’ve lost the job and have to find a way to deal with a crisis.
The key question is:” Are you ready to accept the calling and commit to the journey”
2. The refusal of the Call – “I am not sure this is a good idea”
The Hero wants to avoid all the hassle it will bring. “No, thanks, I am not prepared to work 24/7” “It is very risky to go and do it – I will fail completely” etc..
Negative responses can come from within, or from outside – family friends, critics or society. You also might be told:“ That is unrealistic”.
It could be true, but instead of thinking negatively, do the homework and make a good market research:
– Ask Yourself: “What type of business do I see myself doing?”
– Does it make sense economically and financially?
– What knowledge, information and skills I need?
– Write a business plan
– Talk to someone who is already in business you want to enter.
3. Crossing the Threshold – “Ups, I can’t go back”
The Threshold is a point of no return. You started a Business and you can’t go back. Suddenly, you realize that you are in a new territory and out of your comfort zone. It becomes difficult, challenging, risky and frequently painful. Doubt and fears enter your land and you are not so sure anymore that you’ve made a right decision. It is perfectly normal, so don’t be upset about it.
4. Finding Guardians – “Help please”
In order to survive your Hero’s journey, you must find guardians. Ask yourself: “Who are the people who support my decision to become self –employed? Who are the people who have the knowledge and tools that I need to know and know nothing about? Who can remind me that the journey is possible, and offer support when I most need it?
Find your mentors, teachers, friends, sponsors, awakeners and allies. You cannot finish your hero’s journey alone!
5. Facing your demons and shadows – “Am I capable? Am I good enough?”
Demons are entities that will try to block your journey. What makes something a demon is the fact that you are afraid of it and intimidated by it. If you weren’t afraid, it wouldn’t be a demon.” You will be confronted over and over and over with your fears, your insecurities, your crappy excuses, your limitations, your justifications, your shitty integrity, and your inefficient time management. And you will have to learn to accept yourself through all this because in order to get up every day and create, you have to. “
6. The transformation – “ I wish someone told me that before..”
As you develop new resources within yourself and find guardians you become ready to face your demons and inner shadows and engage in the great transformational challenge of the journey. This is the time of great struggle, dedication, and battle that leads to your growth and new insights:
– You will learn that when you run a business and put your heart and soul in a project, there is no such thing as “going home”
– Running out of money is a common part of the journey, despite your best planning
– You have to know how to sell yourself in two minutes and keep it brief and relevant.
– Whether you like it or not, you have to learn to be good at networking
– Your trajectory for success will most probably take as long as everyone else’s, even though you’re “special and brilliant”. Two years rule doesn’t exist without reason.
– You have to say goodbye to any form of perfectionism and learn not to be hard on yourself. It is just not possible to be working at 100 % all of the time
– Probably, your email will become your new best enemy. You could care about everyone, but you can’t help everyone.
– Sometimes you will have to do boring stuff (deal with administration, taxes and receipts)
– You must become a brilliant marketer or hire someone who will do it for you. You can have best product or service, but if nobody knows it exist, you won’t sell it.
7. Returning home with a gift – “I survived…I am running a business…is it real?”
The final stage of hero’s journey is the return home. Hero’s journey is not an individual ego trip. A true hero shares his or her realizations with others. True entrepreneur helps others to succeed, because he knows there is a place for everyone who has something valuable to offer.
Entrepreneurship is the most life changing relationship (like marriage or parenthood) that a person can have. So, at the end, there is just one question left: “Are you still crazy enough to go for it?”
Yesterday, I got a phone call from a young lady who wanted me to help her write an essay about who she is. She said she had to write it in order to get a job. The request made me curious and decided to meet her in person.
She entered the room like a hurricane looking very upset. In less than 20 seconds she was sitting in a chair muttering: “Ok, let’s do it. What do I have to write to get a job?”.
While looking at her, I recalled how many times I asked myself the same question. I remembered all advices about how to write a good job application. Many of them were focused on satisfying employer’s needs. Advices were going in one direction: “Read everything about the company. Make sure you know by heart their values and then write a job application using their language. Talk about what is important to them. It doesn’t really matter what you think and who you really are. You just have to say what they expect from you and afterwards when you get hired it doesn’t really matter anymore.
I usually felt like Woody Allen in Ants movie asking himself: “I mean you know, what is it, I’m supposed to do everything for the colony, and what about my needs? What about me? This whole system makes me feel – insignificant! And I would get very same answer: You are right, you are insignificant.
Anyway, like a good little girl I shut up my voice and did what I was advised to do. And you know what? I got a job. Not only I got one job, but I got five jobs at the same time and just had to make a decision which one would I go for. Sounds great? Well….
While participating in those interviews I thought I got the idea how it feels to be a person with multiple personalities, because I prepared five great “true” stories that had very little to do with the reality. And I was talented in convincing myself to believe in the stories. I guess we are all sometimes good at it – in telling ourselves and others interesting stories that we tend to believe in.
To make a long story short, I ended up working 12 years for the same company just accommodating my stories and company expectations. I got a good position and a good income until one day I got sick. That was the beginning of a new story called: “A journey to authenticity”. So, I asked myself was that really a good strategy?
I wondered how my business carrier would look like if early in my career somebody asked me to write an essay about who I am. Maybe, instead of writing that I am a team player, very organized person who loves statistics and finance, dedicated to reaching companies goals and visions, I could have written that first of all I am an artist, very creative one, who loves math, because in my head its form of art, who is more individual then a team player, born to lead people and connect them –one naturally talented psychotherapist. Maybe then I would say that I am addicted to learning and reaching out for new knowledge. In the end I guess I would add that my great passion is to help people live authentically their life and not someone else’s while they are here on earth.
On the interview, when I was asked what my weakness is, I would not tell them: “My weakness is that sometimes I am a compulsive worker and work too much. Instead of that I could have laughed and told them that I am a compulsive dreamer who is specialized in making dreams come true and inspiring people to conquer their own dreams.
Well, all would be great if I knew that about myself then, but I found out most of those things much later in my life. Anyway, even then I knew I didn’t like finance and I was not very organized person who is crazy about team work. But, if I wrote exactly that in my job application, I might not have gotten a job in a bank or even better to say I wouldn’t search for it.
It all ran through my head for a minute and I laughed and looked at a beautiful young lady in front of me and like a caterpillar from the Alice in Wonderland I just relaxed and asked her…”So who are you?… I mean really who are you?” We sat with that question for an hour and ended up asking the same question for the next four sessions until finally she wrote her essay.
Unlike me, she found out that she would love to work for the company she applied for, because her potential job is connected to her values and purpose. I don’t have to tell you that she also got a job, because out of all of the participants she acted most congruently and was so sure that she is a right person to get hired that employer actually believed her.
So now, I dare you to ask yourself “Who are you?” each day, each week, each month until you get at least a direction. And you know what: as you grow old the answer can change…but you should be aware of the change that is occurring.
If you discover that you are in a good job position relax and be happy, and if you realize that you are not, go for your dreams and find a job that will serve your purpose and not the other way around.
And please in the meantime… don’t ask yourself: is it possible? Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and all the sudden you will be doing the impossible – making you dreams come true.
Ever since I was a little girl I was thought that if I want to succeed I have to work hard with full dedication, commitment, give my best and concentrate to achieve the given objective at any cost. I followed that path for 10 years and it didn’t bring me happiness. I couldn’t understand what was wrong?
One day I came to NLP training where trainer told us to do one simple exercise. We just had to imagine how we want to end up our life and thought about where we were on that road. When I visualized the picture in my head, I felt so sad. It was hard to accept the fact that instead of following my heart, I was following other people’s expectations. I learned in a minute Carl Jung’s concept of rather being whole than good and realized that working hard while travelling the wrong road is not a good way to live my life.
It inspired me to take a vacation, so I went to see my old friend. While dinning in a nice small restaurant surrounded by beautiful landscape, he asked me: „Mirta, what do you want to do in your life?“ I said: „I don’t know“ I like learning, traveling, reading books, writing, telling stories, but honestly, I don’t want to work“ He sat quietly and after a few minutes (that seemed like two hours) significantly raised his eyebrows and answered: „But if you don’t want to work, become a teacher“. You will never work until the rest of your life. I thought that was a great idea. I will not work! I will teach and teaching in my map was not working (he knew me that well). I felt big relief and decided to become self-employed.
That was a revelation. I thought: I will just do what I love and it will bring me happiness and wealth. Very soon I realized business doesn’t work like that. Although I put in it all my heart, dedication, commitment, gave my best and did everything I could to achieve success, costs were way too high. I worked night and day and felt miserable. My body was telling me I am getting out of fuel and it didn’t feel good. I even stopped enjoying doing what I love most – teaching.
I realized that I have to learn how to better organize my life and found myself asking a question: „What do I want to be in five years? “ The answer was very simple: „ I just want to be happy“. At that point there was a popular concept of working smart vs. working hard. I thought that was a great idea. I will just work smart and finally become happy. But, in real life it just didn’t work for me. I worked smart and hard and was still exhausted.
It made me feel confused: If working hard is not the answer and working smart just some crazy concept that is hardly applicable in real life, what is the solution? I decided to take a whole summer to solve that puzzle. At one moment while sitting near sea and looking at sun raise I remembered my teacher from NYC. He was travelling all around a world and working really hard, but at the same time he looked really energized and happy. I thought about the difference between us and the difference was quite obvious. He had much bigger resilience than I did.
So, I asked myself how I could become more resilient. I started to read all the articles on that topic and shortly they all said similar things. The first step I had to do was to change my thoughts:
- – Develop a more positive attitude: by hanging out with positive people, stop catastrophizing and learn to embrace change
- – Improve my problem solving approach and learn from my mistake
- – Stop thinking of setback as a sign that I am somehow unworthy, that the world is unfair and that things will always be that way
- – Constantly learn and seek knowledge
- – Learn to concentrate and focus (no multitasking)
- – Learn to embrace and manage my emotions
- – Meditate
Another advice was to change my actions
- – Find purpose in life (I knew that)
- – Maintain a strong social network.
- – Find a mentor.
- – Take care of myself
- – Work toward my goals and be a person of action
And the last but not less important to stay strong:
- – Stay physically fit.
- – Nourish my creativity.
- – Cultivate my sense of humor.
- – Manage stress well.
- – Make peace with my past.
It didn’t look easy, but it was worth trying. First I decided to find a mentor. It helped me a lot. Then, I decided to start exercising at least 10 minutes a day and it made me feel stronger. As a therapist I had obligation to work on my issues, so I went to regular coaching sessions. Afterwards, I realize I have to start working with more positive people and decided to surround myself with people who inspired me and still do. I also realized I cannot do it by myself and find a dedicated team. In the meanwhile, I spent some time to learn great focusing techniques and built good daily practices (enough sleep and good diet).
I cannot say I reached my final goal, but it feels good on the road. And I don’t care anymore if I work hard or work smart. Each day I just do my best to stay happy.