Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Movement

Consider movement.  The lustful straining of the seed towards the egg; the slow plod from ignorance to skill; the innocent wind rocking the trees; getting up and going on a Monday morning.  Everything begins with movement.

Studying a few of the core physical realities surrounding us can be liberating, and help distract us from ourselves.  Contemplating the bare wonder of sight or hearing or touch can lead to amazing insights.  No element of our existence is more powerful, however, than movement.  Losing yourself in the dance of anything is a sure way to creative insight.

Observe interactions around the office, the body language that is so revealing.  Watch people on the street and listen to the flow of their movement.  Contemplate a natural scene in terms of what is moving.  Watch television with the sound off.  As you sit reading this, slowly clench one fist and then release it, tuning in to the fine points of muscular action and concommitant emotional response.

Because of this essential value of movement, we’ve come to understand that physical fitness makes a huge difference to mental and emotional states.  A day that includes a nice long walk and a few yoga stretches is inevitably a happier and more aware day for me.  Touching back in on the foundational wellspring of movement ensures a brighter creative outlook.

A fun recent post by Mitch Ditkoff is the results of their poll asking when and where people get most of their creative ideas.  Check it out and see how many people seek movement when looking for new ideas.

It doesn’t matter if you’re outrageously out of shape and king of the couch potatoes.  Take advantage of your ability to move, if it’s only a finger lift to start with.  Let the mysteries of movement penetrate, sway, and entertain you.  Even on a Monday morning, you’ll find yourself refreshed.

Feeling good

Day lilies.  As the sun alights each morning on the drab backsides of their shut-in petals, the flowers succumb to its glory and open wide, bathing all day in sweet seduction.

There is one and only one mission that we have in life and that is to personally feel really good.  When you have achieved a truly feel good state, you are fulfilling your obligation as a human being.  When you open up to the light and allow it to embrace you, you become beautiful beyond measure.

A good hot summer weekend is a great time to consider how you can become like the daylily.

Creativity as survival

There are quite a few of us on the net urging the business world towards creativity.  I liked Sonia Simone’s message yesterday, a straightforward directive to get in touch with your creative side or perish like an old, abused machine. 

I think it’s important to distinguish between creativity and innovation.  The latter is a sometimes result of the former.  But many creative efforts don’t lead to innovations or anything else tangible or obviously helpful.  Still, every time we open wide to possibility, every time we get out of our own way and open to inspiration, we strengthen our survival skills. 

If you think words like perishing and survival are too strong for this context, make no mistake, the counsel of so many bloggers, mentors, experts, and thinkers these days to attend to your creative development is deadly serious.  Unlike a sport or knitting, you don’t take up creativity as an amusing distraction; you don’t practice it only on Saturdays.  Rather, you adopt the creative life like you adopt a nutritious diet, and it sooner or later permeates every waking moment.  You become a person who is open to ideas, and change, and possibilities.  You become a profound listener, a keen observer, a compassionate colleague.  You evolve in every fiber of your being.  You become able to face the future with calm assurance.

And yes, the implication is that if you do not attend to this evolution you will be lost in the rush.  If you accept your sadness or oppression or boredom as simple facts of life, and do not attempt to ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ your business will fail, and your efforts will go unrewarded.  You’ll be left wondering why you’re not successful when you did everything by the book.

Even though, or perhaps because global population has grown astronomically, we need every soul to seek fulfillment, we need every mind to open wide to ideas, we need all people to learn to respect and appreciate one another.  Unless this happens, our old ways will carry us quickly to extinction.  We’re being challenged to become better than we’ve ever been – more knowledgeable, clever, and compassionate.  And the way this kind of development is most readily accessible is through creativity.

Hats off to Ditkoff

Awesome.  Yesterday’s post at Heart of Innovation by Mitch Ditkoff sets it all out for us.  100 easy ways to be more creative at work.  Check it out, print it, hang it by your desk.   It’s one blog post that can become your life saver.

Of course, the biggest step in changing anything is the very first one.  You have to start somewhere, you have to initiate change, your willing (yearning) spirit is the single most important ingredient in any innovation.

Most likely, you have no yearning for improvement unless you’re unhappy with things as they are.  And who am I to deny your complacency?  Maybe you’re plenty comfortable and content with your job and your life.  If so, stop reading now.

But if you are anything short of bliss-filled, you can probably use some new approaches.  I’m here to reassure you that life doesn’t have to be suffering.  If you’re unhappy, frustrated, uncomfortable, unappreciated, or just generally sad or feeling lost, maybe it’s time to re-cast yourself in a new light.  Once you decide to experiment with such renovations, the possibilities will endlessly multiply.  Mitch’s list is a viable jumping-off place.

An element of this argument is abdicating control.  When seeking personal change, it’s necessary to relinquish your accustomed hold on things.  It’s essential to take a step back and let the universe speak.  It’s required that you do your best to forget your own idea of yourself.  If you’re stuck in your thinking or problem-solving, the first thing to do is give it up. 

And today I’ll suggest that the second thing to do is go straight to Mitch’s list, close your eyes and pick one.  Follow it through and then thrill to the ways it brightens your outlook, improves your process, returns you to meaningful productivity.

Copping a different beat

Time for another dollop of everyday creativity development.  This is the next installment in a long line of tiny little actions you can take, whenever and wherever, to help develop your creative abilities.  A well developed creative sense is the first step towards fulfillment in life.  Our western economy has all but destroyed individual creativity, and huge numbers of us don’t even know what the term means. 

If the analysts are right, though, the economy now developing – which is undeniably of global concern – depends on such precise self- and business-definition as to render competition irrelevant.  This means that you have so distinctly defined your particular gifts that you can be characterized in a way that’s entirely different from anyone else in the world.  Pretty tall order, huh?  All very well for Google and Twitter, but my individual path surely can’t be that creative.

Au contraire, we must remember that all businesses are made up of individuals just like us.  The only difference is that some individuals have taken the time to become deeply acquainted with their creative selves, and the groundbreaking advances their enterprises offer are the result.

So here’s today’s pointer.  A while ago I posted about habits, and how it’s helpful to switch them out now and then.  This is a related concept: dig deeper into your creative sense by trying out new responses to the same old same old.  Do you always grumble a brief “‘Mornin'” to your coworker upon arriving at the job?  Just once, try looking them in the eye and asking sincerely, “How are you today?”  Do you always hold staff meetings in a conference room?  Try scheduling one standing up around the office, or at the cafe down the street.  Is there a task at work you find distasteful and generally avoid?  Try facing it head-on despite your reluctance, pretending you’re thoroughly enjoying it.

Especially poignant is a new approach to someone who generally peeves you no end.  What if you refuse to respond at all to them?  What if you smile sweetly instead of allowing yourself to be frustrated?  Most likely, any kind of new and different response from you will make all the difference to your whole day.

Doing anything in a different way from the norm will open your eyes; and clarity in perception is a greatly helpful tool as you seek your creative potential.

A final note for all my fellow aging baby boomers:  switching out your responses, practicing variety in your actions, simply doing old things in new ways is a powerful weapon to combat dementia.  Want to stay alert through your old age?  Then do everything you can to climb out of your mid-life rut right now and enter into full realization of possibility.

Silence and power

Quinn MacDonald, an exquisite blogging thinker, wrote recently about the noise with which we’re surrounded all the time.  Many have become so used to it that silence is downright frightening to them.  As MacDonald says so poignantly,

“We hate the sound of our own minds and hearts.”

 

It’s true, isn’t it?  Very few are comfortable with quiet introspection.  If no other distractions are available, we must blast the radio or television to keep the white noise at sufficient volume to keep inner thought from surfacing.

 

Problem is, the evolving world of commerce is dependent on your individual creativity.  Much more than your fabulous looks, your soaring intelligence, your knack for selling, or your workaholism, it’s the depths of your creative self that will lead you to success in business as the global economy develops.  Finding your true brand, the skillset you offer that is unique in the world, is how you’ll prosper in coming years.

 

And it is not possible to discover your uniqueness without intimate knowledge of your own mind and heart.  If we’re always layering on the noise and distractions, this static interference simply drowns out the soul’s whispers. 

 

Is all this anathema to you?  Can you abide the very thought of silence, or does it frighten you beyond contemplation?  If the latter is true, you’re likely to discount this post as all very well, but impossible, and immediately forget it.  But if you have the courage to try, go ahead and test the advice of so many leaders, consultants, writers and thinkers all over the ‘net, who say one of the keys to successful living is to spend at least 10 minutes in absolute, undisturbed silence every day.

 

Get to know your self, your simple existence as it expresses through your breathing.  Don’t expect instant miracles, but allow the slow and certain awareness of your utterly unique self to penetrate.  Silence, which may appear scary or boring or threatening, is in truth our most powerful connection to personal power.

Old lettuce

Do you know what this picture is showing?  It’s lettuce, that staple of our nutrition, after it has gone to seed.  No good to munch on anymore, but isn’t it lovely nonetheless?  So rich and curly.  Because of recent experiences, it puts me in mind of the typically long life we Americans enjoy these days.  We’re outliving our usefulness, much like the greenery shown here, but we humans scarcely know how to deal with it.

My hope is that we can learn to live and work in such a way that when we’re no longer active, when our skills are no longer useful and we bolt heavenwards like the lettuce, then our true beauty will still shine, even more glorious for its mysterious uselessness, its divine impracticality.

Time Out

If you’ve been following this particular set of posts, you know I’ve been looking at ways of awakening personal creativity.  I would do the proper thing here, and provide links to all the various related writings, but in looking at the list of them, I see that nearly all touch on this subject.  So if you’re a new browser here, just start at the beginning and work up. 

I’ve mentioned listening, appreciating, doodling, and many more simple techniques.  And today, the technique I’ll both name and employ is that of doing nothing.

Sitting here poised to write this entry, I’m bursting with things to say, and bolloxed about where to begin.  Somehow, though the tank is full, the ignition’s not working.  Feeling pressured to get other business done, to meet work obligations, I’m clearly not capable of succinct communication here at the moment.

Surely this happens to many of you.  You find yourself stalled, for no obvious reason.  How wonderful that there’s a way to manage these lapses.  Simply do nothing!  Sign off, be still, go away, take a recess, stare at a wall.  I’m here to inform you that, despite any external pressure, it’s ok to take time out.  More than that, it’s a healing and productive thing to do in many instances.

Stopping to smell the roses is not just for retirees.  It’s absolutely key to successful living.

 

Impermanence

There’s nothing like a visit to aging parents to get your priorities in order.  Many of us baby boomers nurture the old folks as best we can, as they uselessly while away the years in cloistered communities.  That generation built our world, and now they wander the corridors aimlessly, their living assisted but their lives remaining shrouded in mystery.

A friend recently reminded us that business should not be an end in itself, but it should be a vehicle to take us to our dreams.  For my parents’ generation, the world they built after World War II was so glorious as to seem a dream come true.  But my peers and I have turned so much of their culture upside down, and the changes since the 60s and 70s appear to threaten the old folks’ core values and proud accomplishments. They have a hard time understanding that their business was a vehicle to today, and not the crowning achievement they were sure they had created.

As we develop our brands, and innovate,  and find new ways to work, it’s useful to reflect on today’s seniors and remember that our innovations are fluid things, ripe at any time for change.  Like a new car, a great idea begins to depreciate as soon as it’s implemented. 

We grow our businesses because it’s necessary to earn a living, and it is the way we know to satisfy material needs.  We innovate because such modifications improve our income, and keep our interest peaked.  In these writings, I urge the development of personal creativity because such practice will keep open your windows of possibility, and guard against fear and atrophy.  Even so, this mid-week morning I’m here to remind us that none of this is final, it is all vehicular, carrying us to unknown worlds beyond.

I don’t know what will happen when my generation reaches the stage of dementia.  There are too many of us and we can ill afford the astronomical costs of assisted living.  I do know that we’ll be vastly happier then, however, if we take care now to understand our lives as journeys, and our achievements – no matter how grand or revolutionary – as mere baby steps on the long road to heaven. 

Back soon

“Having patience in the creative process means understanding that no one thing is ultimately important, but that every single thing is ultimately important.”

 

Todd Henry at Accidental Creative penned this wonderful line.  I leave you with the thought as familial duties call me away from my accustomed rounds over the next several days.  I will be thinking of you, and saving up tidbits of delight to share with you on my return next week.  Namaste.