Mastering the Mindsets of “a Creative”

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I’ve never considered myself to be “a creative.”

Connector, organizer, operationalize-er, facilitator, listener, planner, mother, lover, sister, daughter, coach, yogi, learner, consultant, world citizen, traveler… Sure! But, “a creative”… well let’s just says that I leave that title for people like Steve Jobs, Mindy Kaling, I.M. Pei, Paulo Coelho, Walt Disney… and my partner Chris!

That said, recently I’ve been reconsidering this stance. My “limiting belief” around my own creative capabilities is not serving me, nor the people I work and play with! As a result, I am doing a bit of personal research around the following questions:

  • What does it mean to be “a creative”?
  • What are the mindsets of “a creative”?
  • What does this mean for me?

Here is what I’ve put together thus far from reading, observation and personal reflection.

What does it mean to be “a creative”?

A “creative” is one who creates – who brings things into existence! These things can be ideas, products, art, dance, processes, protocols, stories and more. Creators generate – they make!

What are the mindsets of “a creative”?

Be a collector

I read in a magazine article (sorry, I can’t remember the source!) that especially creative people share one common habit. They are always collecting diverse (and often random) ideas and experiences. Why? Because you never know what is going to fuel your next creative insight or outburst! Be a collector.

Be curious

When I observe my partner work on creative projects with the Bon team and others, he asks a lot of questions like, “What if we didn’t know anything about this topic? Where would we start? What would we create? How is this both true and not true? Does this truly excite us? What else?” Those questions open up thinking and promote especially generative ideation. Be curious.

Be dedicated

Creation needs lots of time and dedicated effort. Martha Beck writes, “Michelangelo once said, ‘If people knew how hard I work, they wouldn’t find my achievements so remarkable.’ Like Benjamin Franklin, most people attribute creative achievement to great ease, when in fact it comes from great effort.” Schedule large blocks of uninterrupted “make time” throughout the week. More on this in Fast Company. Guard your creative time like a hawk! Be dedicated.

Be prolific

This American Life host and producer Ira Glass has a wonderful series about storytelling on YouTube. He reminds listeners that many people pursue creative careers because they have “killer” creative taste. The trick is getting to a point where you can create at a level that matches your own taste. This takes years and years of creation. Ira reminds listeners to do lots of work. Make and make and make some more (even if much of what you are making doesn’t yet match your creative ambitions)! Be prolific.

Be playful

Make a list of all of the uber creatives you know. How do they approach their creative work? My observation is that creatives play a lot – they play with ideas, colors, sounds, tastes and more. Creatives are often in a state of “flow.” The process of creation is pleasurable in and of itself. Be playful.

Be confident

What makes one creative idea win over another? Often times, it is the conviction of the creator – that her idea (or creation) matters, that we should pay attention to it. Be confident.

What does this mean for me?

Honestly I am still coming to know “Anna the creative” – I see glimmers of her when I dance, stretch, write, cook, create workshops and play with my kids. But, what has become clear to me as I sift through the literature on creativity and watch creative people at work is that mindset matters and creativity takes dedicated conscious time. Moving forward, I plan to change by mental “self talk” around creativity, play with the above mindsets and just observe what happens. My default persona might not be “a creative,” but I know there is a creative side of myself that is firing up her engines and rearing to make!

To the creative in us all,

CEO, Bon Education

Image available under CC License by K putt

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