The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Creativity
Nowadays everyone is looking for creativity, It’s today’s most valuable commodity. Startup and tech companies inebriate their employees to boost creativity. However, society doesn’t understand how creativity is ignited, how it is extinguished, or how it is rekindled.
As we all know creativity is very strong in children. I grew up in an Amish neighborhood. I spent most of my time outdoors, Playing in the field, the woods, and sometimes the dirt road. My best friend at the time and I would brandish fine sticks to vanquish monsters and bandits alike. At night we often built a campfire and stare at the flame’s movements and the glowing embers, or we’d turn our gaze to the stars with curiosity. I also remember writing and illustrating our own comic books.
Indoors when I’d watch TV, but I mostly liked History channel and my favorite show was Modern Marvels. I decided my career path and named my job title: inventor. I’d make blueprints of new gadgets. I even thought of home automation, and home digital assistants like Echo far before they became a reality. Unfortunately, creative minds are smothered in the classroom.
School is a place where creativity goes to die of asphyxiation. School makes students afraid to learn, experiment, grow, or think outside of the box. In school, we are taught to be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes mean you’re dumb. Make to many you get an F. I put all my self-worth on my grades. I needed to feel superior to my classmates. I was insecure, but instead of learning to deal with insecurities I held on to A’s to stay afloat. I was very afraid to make a mistake, and when I did I never wanted to admit it or ask questions, and I wouldn’t end up learning from mistakes.
I was also very afraid to be creative and express it. I remember continually getting in trouble in art class because of my use of red crayons. I’d draw guns, tanks, knives, and swords in fairly violent ways that teachers tended not to like. Several friends and I had taken a liking to martial arts. We’d practice moves on each other. One day a friend and I got put in detention because I was throwing him over my shoulder. I remember my teacher saying “You’re so much better than this, why do you hang out with these kids?” She had no idea the damage she did while thinking she was preventing damage. Not too long after I couldn’t be friends with my friends, I didn’t want to ever express myself.
School is one of the biggest killers of creativity. Not that it’s all bad, but it does a lot of damage. School isn’t the only thing that damages creativity: employment can, a family can, many things can, but many things can help revive it.
Creativity can be revived and many things can breathe life back into our creative mind, and bring us back to childlikeness. Creativity requires purpose, a direction to move a channel for the rivers of the mind to flow. For creativity to flow doubt cannot exist in the mind, and the only thing that can remove doubt is faith. To continue the perpetual motion of creativity habits and rituals of creativity must be formed.
Productive creativity requires a mission greater than one’s self. When children have play doctor, firefighter, or police officer they do because they want to help people. I wanted to be an inventor not for the money but because I wanted to help people be productive, or make green energy better.
Now I want to be an entrepreneur to provide benefit to people, to help others achieve their dreams, and to have a school of my own. With entrepreneurship as my purpose, all my creative energy is sent down a direct path to business and problem-solving. Most of my attention is on making business ideas and planning on how I can create them, and these ideas solve problems big and small. It is not to say that you can’t focus on yourself with dreams. To live rich, and free is a dream of mine but it’s not my only one. If I’m self-focused I’ll backslide on good habits, dream smaller, and doubt myself.
Faith & doubt
Doubt stops creativity like a dam and the only tool to bust these dams is faith. Faith is an ability to believe in something big. For some, it will be in themselves, but I find I have a hard time believing in myself so I believe in a big God. I believe in a God that loves and favors me so much that will bless me, guide me, and illuminate the path to my dreams. I believe in Him and He believes in me, to me is a lot easier than believing in myself.
When faith replaces doubt creative thoughts can flow downstream. I often have small thought impulses that will lead me to a new product or service, or empire I think I can build. Where most people have that small thought and doubt comes in to tell you “it’s impossible, you don’t know how to do this, that’s a dumb idea.” Faith is able to tell you “I can do this, I can learn anything I don’t know, I’ll test to see if it’s a good idea.”
Just as a final thought on doubt. Is that doubt is a form of pride, pride and curiosity cannot coexist in the mind, and creativity cannot exist without curiosity. Doubt is a form of pride because when you think you have all the answers you begin to doubt what is possible, but humility understands that the answers are hidden and must be sought out and learned.
I find that I dream more than and that I dream bigger than anyone that I know, and that I have an ability to enter creative flows of inspiration almost on command, and I think it is because I have a strong connection and strong habits to creativity.
One habit is to absorb knowledge from many sources, much of creativity is putting together ideas we’ve seen before and built better mouse traps, I love reading books, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, talking with mentors, and talking to strangers about their occupation.
With all this built up random knowledge, I have I habitually take quiet walks in the park to collect, digest, journal, and build my thoughts. If I have a good idea I take a walk and plan it out in my head. If I’m feeling distracted or can’t think straight I take a walk. I’ve built a lot of boredom and solidarity into my life for this purpose. I don’t listen to music when I walk to work or drive in my car so I can put my mind to work. I eliminated many distractions like YouTube and video games from my life to take the time to be bored. I honestly have more fun in my own head then on distractions.
I often play games in my head to practice creativity. When I walk past an empty storefront I ask myself what store I would open there given the area, what’s missing from the surrounding stores, and what I’d have fun doing there. Or I observe people and come up with businesses that could help them.
For example, I saw a man sitting in a public area with a cigarette, a coffee thermos, and ashes below him. I think to my self a thermos with an ash trey that screws on the bottom could be helpful to public spaces, maybe the environment. Whether that is a good idea or not is not the point, the point is that I’m engaging my brain in creative thought and not on my phone looking for entertainment when I have all the entertainment in my own head.
This ‘practice’ can work with any field. If you are an artist remake and rebrand businesses logos, or if you are in film think of how you’d set up a scene wherever you are or create a character from strangers you see.
Habits make up much of our lives if we create a habit of creativity our creative muscles will build and become stronger.
It brakes my heart when I see people who don’t dream or express any creative part of them. I know they have a creative side to them, their born with one. It’s buried by their job and obligations. But I know creativity can come out of the grave.