“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try”
– Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!, —Dr. Seuss
Even though I didn’t grow up reading Dr. Seuss books, I have enjoyed reading them with my kids and we have learned a lot of things here and there.
He had a multifaceted career in which he created forty-four children’s books plus political cartoons, hundreds of advertisements, and so much more.
I love a lot of different quotes from Dr. Seuss but especially the one I opened this with. Where it points to the fact that amazing ideas get created when we let our minds wander around, without any constraint, and come up with something that might surprise us.
As entrepreneurs, and people in general; we barely allow ourselves to do this thinking. We saturate our minds and life; which has us left feeling tired at the end of the day. Too tired to think or create something new; we don't have any more energy to make something happen.
I have heard a lot of entrepreneurs tell me, “You are so creative, I don't have the talent you have”, or comments like, “I would love to dance, paint, act, write, BUT...”
We never get around to doing. Why is it that we want to do so many things and we often stop ourselves from doing it
To create is to use your imagination. To tap into those ideas that spark in our head and pay attention. So if using our imagination is all it takes to be creative, then that means we (yes you too) are actually creating all the time.
So what does that mean for you?
It means that everything (and anything) is possible!
The trick is to outwit your mind into allowing it to play more. Fear plays a big part in this game and I finally understood that for myself, the only thing you can do with fear is to acknowledge it, jump in, and create.
To practice and get better at stopping the constant over thinking, over analyzing, and the ‘what if's’. To breathe more, take time to free your mind, and get to a place where you can be with the creative process. And then...BE WITH IT.
Some of you might say, but you're a graphic designer, this is easy for you. I promise it is just as challenging.
Let me share my story
Earlier last year (2016, I was tasked to create a masterpiece; yes, a piece of art they call it!
The project was to be a unique piece that would be used to capture the essence of the work we do for our clients. The intention was to hold the energy of their dreams and aspirations, as people and businesses up to big things in the world.
The challenge was that it had to be practical and make sense to clients. And it had to hang on a wall.
You might think that this seems like what most graphic designers are tasked to do. But this time was different. It was never done before and so, this presented an empty canvas. I could only be inspired by the deep metaphors and symbols the idea was anchored in.
The rest was up to me to create; from nothing. And I was paralyzed.
The fear was rushing through; my fear of not being an artist, and not being able to create a masterpiece on my first attempt. And the fact is, I go through the same process every time when facing the challenge to be creative. Especially when it's out of my comfort zone.
The difference is, this time, I stayed and played in the chaos and the uncertainty. Mostly because of everyone else around me keeping me where I needed to be, in that uncomfortable place. I had to be with myself, be in the moment of creating, and allow myself to begin.
Building momentum with magic
I rallied the kids (my 4-year-old twins at that time), took the brushes and paints out of the drawers and began the process of exploring the nonsensical. Playing, and removing the need to get it right. And simply starting to enjoy the process of creating that I had forgotten about.
The process of being free, putting colour, any colour, anywhere I wanted, going back to the simplicity of using a different tool, exploring what could happen and getting connected to why I choose to create the businesses I have.
Most of us who are in business for ourselves rely heavily on process-driven systems and structures that allow us to repeat those things that we are really good at or want to get better at. Creativity does not work like that.
In fact, the most impactful results come when we stop trying to control the outcome; when we have the freedom to think.
Have you noticed when you are having a shower, all these ideas come into your head? Some of them are useless, yes; but some of them are amazing and one or two could actually solve or become the most important thing you’ll focus on in your life moving forward.
That happens when your conscious mind is occupied with simple tasks, like enjoying the warm water or cleaning your body.
Get off your own way
Whatever the big idea or creative project you think you want to take on, stop thinking about it and just get messy. That is what the creative process is all about and we all have our own special skills of creativity.
Stop trying to figure it out, you don’t need to get it right. Allow yourself to be a bit haphazard about it. Look at things that inspire you. Go for a walk, learn breathing exercises, make a list, cross off the list, make a new list, cross off that list too. Scribble on paper, sitting upside down on the couch, and look at life from a new perspective.
As my husband would say,
“It’s not about where you've been, it’s about where you’re going, so keep flowing in the unknowing.”