Finding your “inner crayon”

Crayola Lincoln Logs

The brain has an infinite capacity for creativity. (Yes, even yours, in case you were wondering.) We’re all born with an innate drive to create, to explore our surroundings and process information in an astounding number of ways. And then… somewhere along the path to adulthood many of us put down that cool “inner crayon” and forget where we left it.

Even now all that creativity is lurking in there inside you, just waiting for you to let it out.  Are you ready to pick up that crayon and start coloring your world again?  Yes? Good — the world needs more people like you.

But before we get started, there are a few things you should know.

You will sometimes fail. Get over it.
Nobody likes to fail. It makes us feel ineffectual, stupid, weak.  Like a… well, failure. Starting anything new will require you to fail a bit along the way, but it’s part of the process of moving on to someplace better. Just go ahead and accept that now. No one is perfect. Even the greatest artists, thinkers and inventors in history started out with no real knowledge of their craft. They tried, they failed, they tried again. They found their way through to some amazing stuff. And so can you.

Fail often. Fail well.
The best teacher is the thing that went wrong. It’s not a judgement against you, but simply the outcome of not having all the right information at the time.  Treat failures as the great opportunities for learning that they are — analyze them yourself, and even show them to others for critique and feedback. (See, this is why you need to get over the aforementioned fear of the fail. Sometimes other people will see it, and that’s okay.) Wring all you can out of what went wrong, and then use this information to build your knowledge, refine your skills and adjust your tactics so that you can take the next steps. Don’t waste the fail.

Embrace your odd-ness
Be willing to break free from “normal” and explore and express your talents in a way that speaks to you. It’s okay if it’s not the way most people would approach it. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably get the most mileage out of your creativity if you don’t take a standard route. Many of the most creative and talented people in the world were considered to be a little weird; they had these wild, crazy ideas that everyone was sure would not work — but they did. (See? Those nuts didn’t fear the fail. This is how we all got to enjoy  lightbulbs, computers, and Virgin Air, by the way.)

Open yourself to new experiences
Not everyone knows their calling right out of the gate. Most of us need to dig around a little to find it. Sometimes the one thing that truly makes your heart sing is something you never would have imagined yourself doing until you tried it. Even if a new experience turns out to not be your cup of tea, what can you learn from it? Where else can you apply this new knowledge in a unique or interesting way?

Enjoy the process!
This is the really important part. My favorite saying is “creativity is intelligence having fun.”  Let your brain relax and wander around a bit. Stop worrying about what others will think and if you’re doing it right — quite frankly they’re not paying that much attention, and you’re doing just fine.  Leave your self-consciousness at the door for a little while and let your curiosity lead the way.  Don’t focus on where it’s going for now, just enjoy the exploration.

Ready to go?  In the next post I’ll give you a few simple exercises you can  use to get those neurons firing and creative juices flowing.

Colleen Clifford

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