A Coaching Power Tool Created by Polydoros Karyofyllis
(Creatives Coach, GREECE)
In the myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor named Pygmalion falls in love with his own masterpiece of a sculpted woman and gives life to his object of desire.
It is often our will to control that enslaves us in impossible to escape emotional entrapment’s, by clinging to a particular goal or a belief, or even a relationship. You can leave your Creativity liberate you and lead you into a life full of new wonders.
Who is a Creator?
It is certainly not just the artist. Everyone is creative in her own unique ways. Someone is an entrepreneur, another an innovator, a third an amateur musician, or an everyday cook, artisan etc. But creativity is not constrained in the few. Everyone’s daily life is filled with endless options for creativity and it’s just a choice of perception to start using and enjoying your creative self. There is no such thing as, “I am not creative”. All humans are born creative.
Can I be creative? Is it a trait? Is there such a thing as talent?
It is the focus and hard work that make an artist or a professional stand out. They say it takes 10.000hrs to master a subject. It is not 10.000hrs of mechanistic repetition, it is 10.000hrs of presence and concentration. By being in the present, focused and alert, you manage to make the most out of your practice. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi points in his work on the “Flow” this labor is not devastating but liberating, as you are doing what you enjoy doing. For some the task of mastering a subject might seem impossible in the beginning but gradually becomes rewarding, amusing and liberating. Creativity is in everybody’s genres yet culturally it is mainly attributed to exemplary individuals. By starting noticing the applications of your own creativity in daily life, you can start investing more time and gain immediate rewards. Living a creative life means inventing and building solutions, finding and making use of opportunities where others see boundaries. Creativity is immensely gratifying. It is pleasurable, it solves problems, it opens up new perspectives, and the list is endless.
What is Clinging?
Staying attached to your work, a relationship, a belief etc. is similar to not letting your own child walk its own path after reaching adulthood. Often we keep ourselves attached to a relationship that seems stalled, bound by jealousy, but without making effort to make it operational, playful and creative. Often we want success so much that we fail to enjoy the fruits of the everyday, postponing rejoice for a distant future. Clinging to a cause, an object, a person, or belief is often a sign of our weakness, of the fear of the unknown. Possession then stops being comfort, acknowledgment or asset and becomes a constant fear of loss, a liability. Letting go of a fixation, and establishing a creative way of dealing with it, is rewarding and liberating.
Creativity: a fulfilling state of active presence channeled into producing something meaningful for self and others.
Clinging: a state of constant unrest and non-‐complacency linked to an unfulfilled need, or unattained result.
Creative Thinking vs. Critical Thinking
Although creative people are believed to be open-‐minded we find that unfortunately this is not always the case. Contemporary education is based on theses, building strongholds and barriers of beliefs difficult to be negotiated, bridged or surpassed. We are conditioned to operate on a Critical Thinking mode. At the same time often creators cling to the self-‐image, the Ego, thus resembling the stereotype of the narcissistic creator. Being focused doesn’t necessarily mean being critical, opinionated or self-‐centered. Being open is the key. This is where Creative Thinking comes at work. By being open to try and to build on new ideas, rather than sticking to your own entrenchments, is beneficial. By keeping curiosity levels high, by starting with a blank piece of paper and trying experimenting with different disciplines, welcoming various stimuli and appreciating different perspectives you manage to further open-‐up your work and life perception while keeping your fun-‐o-‐meter high too!
Consumerism as a choice
How many times do we find ourselves buying excessive clothes or nick‐nacks? According to the dominant culture of consumerism and desire we are conditioned to believe that creativity is a synonym of “self-‐expression” which in turn is sanctioned in buying and consuming, only to find us more and more depressed, endlessly building our self-image. Fumio Sasaki a 36 y.o. editor, once an avid collector of various sorts, chose to sell everything and now lives more happily than before in his three shirts, four pairs of trousers and four pairs of socks.
Now I have more time to spend with friends, go out, or travel on my days off. I have become a lot more active.
Many successful and creative people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg or even major fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld stripped down their lives of the effort of making stylistic statements and chose a simple personal wardrobe. Choosing not to make use of the endless choices, such as following the trends, can be liberating. By cleaning up your wardrobe and stop amassing dozens of pairs of shoes you may have less time to worry for how you are perceived and more time to walk your own path.
Often artists and creators envy each other’s success. Stories of pettiness of star artists fill up the tabloids further building on the stereotype of the blown-up artist’s Ego. Coaching shows us the way to decode the elements that have made people we admire successful and then how to try to apply whichever element suits in our own lives. By doing so one feels empowered and stops blaming fate, circumstances, conspiracies etc. for the success of others or for her own current state. By showing respect rather than envy one starts enjoying a soothing and encouraging feeling that leads to more action rather than numbness and disempowerment. Envy is another form of clinging. It is disempowering while decoding a set of practices and recreating them for your own purposes is creatively empowering.
Often we do no not want to share our ongoing projects, our future plans, “a good idea”, a found source of inspiration etc. in fear of being “ripped off”. By doing so we abolish our own strengths and we project them to imaginary foes. Of course there are stories of infringement, or plagiarism, idea stealing etc. but they are so few and unimportant if compared with the gains one gets from sharing. Sharing with peers and people, whom you value their opinion, is crucial for your development. Consider how important “beta testing” is, for a product development.
Most famous artists worked closely with their peers. In his book Steal Like a Artist, Austin Kleon reminds as that art is nothing less than an ongoing appropriation, development and rephrasing of the work of our ancestors and peers. In fact creating a challenging and supporting surrounding of peers is important for bettering your ideas and work.
The fear of failure and the fear of success
The very idea of failure, of being criticized, is often so devastating that one often postpones or even refrains from publicizing her work or getting it exposed to the public. The stage fright is possibly the most common fear and it is even shared by some of the most famous performers, speakers etc. of all times. Our social conscience makes us vulnerable to others’ opinion of us. Whether a performer or a keynote speaker it is comforting to know that you are not alone, that most people do empathize with you and that enjoying the ride without worrying for the end destination is far more rewarding and fun. Building your own personal techniques and staying focused on the creative process are the keys to surpass the thought of failure.
Even then sometimes one faces a more complex fear, the fear of success. The fear of not coping with raised demands, not being able to deliver what success entails, or the fear of being sold-‐out, of losing your self, your integrity etc. are only some of its many facets. Appreciating the positive gains of success, self-‐acknowledging your efforts, understanding that one cannot please everyone at anytime, staying grounded by keeping close ties with your old friends and relatives are some of the ways to work with it.
How to stay creatively alert
Every creator has her own set of rituals and creative triggers. Here are some of them: experiment, open up to new stimuli like books, videos, films, travel, engage in conversations, talks and seminars. Create personal routines like writing up your thoughts, keeping voice memos, a blog, going for a walk, meditating, swimming, even cleaning up the garage. Use manual writing and sketching. Link images to ideas and concepts and create visualization boards. Spend some conscious time on your own (yes some solitude is often beneficial for creativity) and start cherishing this time. Creativity is nothing but scarce and its abundance can be channeled in every aspect of your everyday life.
Lessons from the artist’s studio:
Never stop playfully “messing” with your work, your preconceptions and life patterns. At some point everything will fall in place, it will feel neat and you will know that it is O.K.
Having your own sandbox, and visiting it at will, is fun and rewarding, everything can be explored, listened to, tested. Natural curiosity and creativity keeps you on your toes and young at heart.
Replicating is for machines only. Each work and each life situation is different, something added, something deducted. Be mindful of the changes and serendipities that make life special.
Appreciate and cherish the little flaws, like the Japanese master potters do. Small cracks and faults are not only acceptable but also spice up our lives.
With practice comes mastery. It takes time to become master and this is not an end on itself but a means to further liberate your creativity. It’s O.K. to “steal”, to appropriate, patterns and styles from fellow artists and people you respect, especially in the beginning of your life/creative journey. Being an apprentice means managing successfully to copy and reverse‐engineer best practices. Ultimately though only your own absolutely unique way will matter.
Clinging to a single goal is a sure way to get blinded. Be focused and persistent but not blinded by the reward.
Acknowledge your efforts and results and acknowledge your peers. Your peers will acknowledge you too. Your peers are struggling the same way as you do. Let bitterness out of your life.
The empty canvas, or the blank piece of paper are craving to be filled.
So does your life.
The way of the apprentice: like the renaissance apprentice in a great master’s studio you can see your life as a series of wonders unfolding before your eyes. By assuming the role of an apprentice in life you remain open to possibilities and each fault leads to more discoveries, each success only unlocks more episodes. Leonardo Da Vinci, probably the synonym of creativity, remained curious in his whole life, devouring lessons from all other masters, mathematicians, architects, engineers etc. How can you assume the life of a lifelong apprentice?
The daily mantra: many artists refer to daily routines as a major factor of their success. Although there is a common belief that inspiration comes scarcely, this is far from truth. Most artists know that by creating a personal space of creativity and visiting it on a daily basis they become more prone to inspiration rather than passively expecting to be visited by the Muse. What is that daily routine that you enjoy being immersed into and how can you make creativity enhancing routines out of the most mundane daily tasks?
Success stories: Our lives are filled up with stories of successful people and sometimes we feel we have failed just because we don’t seem to be meeting some elusive standards like fame, wealth, peer acknowledgment etc. What are the things you acknowledge yourselves of? Who are your supporters and those who believe in you? What is your impact in their lives? The small successes lead to bigger ones and often it is just a matter of perspective to see your own share of successes and accomplishments.
- What is your sandbox time/space? When do you feel creative in life?
- What are you seeking to gain in life? How can you unleash your creative potential in order to achieve it?
- What are the things that you are clinging to? How can your creativity liberate you?
- How can you enjoy the journey more instead of waiting to reach the end destination?
- What can you learn from your peers?
- Which daily routines can become sources of inspiration and creativity?