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The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’


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    Entries in creative (5)


    How to deal with creative sads, dips and roller coasters

    Creators and makers the world over (and history past) know there are times when the muse shows up and times when it’s in hiding.

    In between times, you get the opportunity to beat yourself up about:

    • how you’re not creative;
    • are only creative after alcohol or cupcakes;
    • sometimes think you might be creative but other people have already thought/done/published/shipped made a gazillion dollars doing what you thought might have been original;
    • can’t keep the creative thing going every day; and
    • feel like giving up; who would notice anyway.


    These thoughts are all part of the creative dip; that roller coaster of thinking about your wonderfully human capability of ingenuity, of making sh*t up, of being brilliant and insightful and clever.

    Even if you think your creativity comes as often as a leap year, look out because even if it's a leap year or not, creativity IS there. 

    When the dip hits, reach for this list of action-based solutions to wind you up-up-up and back on the rails to the heights of the brilliance you know is yours.


    Know it - know that it WILL come; it’s not a case of if, but when. The creative dip will come. When you know that, you’ll notice it when it does. It won’t shock you into taking a day under the covers … alone; with ice cream or choc-coated marshmallows. 


    Name it - when it comes, name it. Call out to it. “Hey you, you dippity dip of creative process. I know you, you’re not gonna get me! Ha! You’re just here to make me… no way, I’m not even gonna say it. Screw you! I’ve got stuff to do!”


    Shift focus - when it aches on the downward slope, go to another thing you’ve got bubbling on the back burner. You know that ‘thing’, that other project, idea or wonderment you’ve had before? Get that out for a moment and spend a little time with that. This stage of being in the dip will pass. 


    Distraction with another action – There is no sense falling into the pit of wallow and staying there; start immediately on another piece of this project. Persist despite the dip. 


    Not-negotiable - Do not debate or argue or negotiate with the dip. As Richard Carlson says in his brilliant book ‘Stop thinking start living’. If you think, debate, negotiate or ruminate, you’re going to be done-for down there in the depths. Carry on. Simply carry on. (PS: By the way, thinking about why you’re in the pit is not carrying on.)


    Thank it and keep moving - Acknowledge the pit and that it’s simply your ego looking out for you, trying to protect you from the scary stuff of shipping and publishing and creating. Seth Godin knows it; Steven Pressfield knows it; Austin Kleon knows it; Elizabeth Gilbert knows it; Nancy Duarte knows it. You too are currently knowing it. Doing creative thinking and work is tricky, challenging and hard but you’ve got this. You have. 


    See the light of dawn – Not suggesting you do an all-nighter, rather as you’re on the up slope, you’ll think ‘Hey, hang on a minute, this could be… maybe it’s a bit good after all.’ This is the light of awesome firing and flaring up again. Acknowledge that. Say ‘I’m coming up for sunlight again here people’. 


    Step on the gas – With some light coming your way, speed up, go safely but at breakneck speed. You’re up and out of the pit, pick up some momentum and carry on. Double time. With a renewed view from another peak, you have a wonderful capability to go further, faster and fairer than before. So go go go and do do do.

    We don’t need to deny or delete the roller coaster dip of the creative process; we need to acknowledge it. The creative sads and the dip of doubt hits us all at some time through the course of a project or piece of work. Yes, sometimes it feels more frequent or that rollercoaster is a nauseating ride we paid for…but it does pass.

    When you get to the top of the next roller coaster hill, enjoy that expansive view. You’re just one scream away from the next pit. But by then you’ll be an expert hand at this creative dip thing. You’ll get your rhythm, flow and creative mojo on and you’ll go, onward and upward, screaming with the wind in your hair: ‘Aaaarrrggghhhh! I’m aliiiiivvvveeeee!’


    Did your meeting pass the 'motion activation' test today?

    Have you been in a workplace in a green, energy conscious building, and noticed how lighting switches on and off based on movement in a room?

    For some buildings it's the bathrooms or kitchen areas that have this feature. 

    For brave workplaces, it's in meeting rooms too. 

    Next meeting, check whether you pass the motion activation test. 

    If the lights switch off - you're too still..., dead still ! Dull meeting. Disengaged participants. Poor outcomes. 

    And note... passing the motion activation test doesn't mean waving madly at the sensors so that the lights switch back on!

    It means you're having a stand-up, sit-down, stand-up, move around, collaborate and really 'work' meeting. 

    A meeting that's active, engaging, physical, creative and collaborative. 

    If the lights switch off, you MUST switch things up, fire up the content, style and agenda.

    You have to make that meeting and conversation environment one that people want to be in.

    And more importantly, an environment and a piece of work that they want to contribute to. 





    A quick creative thinking tool

    There's no need to make idea creation a big deal.
    You don't need a quiet space or allocated time or a fresh notebook. You don't even need to think that you're partcularly creative!
    I enjoy using Bob Eberle's SCAMPER model to help with creativity and innovation - no matter the situation.
    Each letter of the word 'scamper' takes you through a different thinking process. 
    Substitute. Combine. Adapt. Modify. Put to another use. Eliminate. Reverse. 
    Take your problem, situation or current view and think of how you could substitute something...combine with something...adapt it...and so on.
    I've used the model while traveling over the past few weeks, while problem solving, while brainstorming - alone and with others. 
    This week I'm sharing the visual template I use in workshops to isolate some different thinking under each of the 'scamper' letters.
    I write directly on the page and make little notes to segment my thinking, yet keep it on the same page. Teams and groups can work together through the model too.
    Next time you have some ideas to create, some solutions to innovate or a new approach to curate, go and 'scamper'.



    Toying with an idea

    The news was all so serious today - it usually is. And I don't find that to be an inspiring way to 'get creative' and 'be innovative' when I'm working on the thinking in my business. 

    So I change the way I'm thinking and I "toy with an idea". 

    Toying means to be casual and less serious about something. You see kids doing it so much more often than adults do. 

    To get casual and less serious, I have a look around my desk and office and I go from there...

    Looking around, close at hand I can see:


    • a china cow money box with a Happy New Year headband on;
    • a stuffed toy goat hand-puppet that sings tunes from The Sound of Music;
    • a small bongo drum I picked up at a conference event;
    • a pair of my dad's thick rimmed 1950's glasses with the lenses pushed out;
    • a pen with a helicopter on top of it;
    • a furry pencil case;
    • three juggling bean bags;  


    ... and on and on. This is not a tidy, neat, everything in it's particular place office.

    I have props and cues and creative things that help me toy with ideas. I might take my hands off the keyboard and pick up something, wander around, talk out loud, see something outside, get an idea, write it down, or put two or more of the toys together - kaboom!

    Your best creative thinking isn't likely to come staring at this screen. Touch something else and have play, a walk, a think, a talk, and be less casual, less serious. All work with no toy makes the sandpit a big yawn!


    Stop studying (for a moment) and start shipping

    Yes, learning is great. Everyday, learn something new. Study new topics. Attend courses. Develop the mind.

    But if you’re in your own business – or wanting your own business - will you just press the pause button on all of those courses for a moment, please?

    Many a small business owner/operator doesn’t have the time or budget to get out the front door to anything – even if it is a free networking event held by the local Council! Others are financially committed and working ridiculous hours that the thought of showing up at a course – the possibility of having the time or money for a course – is foreign to them.

    So if you’re yet to embark on the business, I have a message for the creative soul that you are, the person with the whole host of business ideas and the future visions that one day you hope will come to fruition.

    They will and they can. And I’m not just playing motivator here.

    They will happen but we need to press ‘pause’ on all of that development you may be doing, or have done.

    In the past couple of weeks I’ve been coaching and mentoring some clients – wanting to get their business idea fired up – and I’m overwhelmed at their capabilities, their range of skills and their qualifications.

    Yes, they can do it. Whatever their business idea is or their passion or interest, it is quite often reflected in their choice of courses and development. I’m convinced they are capable. But I’m wondering how many of these additional certificates, short courses, masters qualifications and other formal and informal studies are really necessary right now for getting their idea up and out there.

    It’s a great distracter.

    Why aren’t they putting their creative idea into practice? You know, registering a business name, registering a domain name, getting some business cards printed, getting their LinkedIn profile up to date and then getting in touch with the people they already know to meet with them and tell them about their business solution.

    Instead of taking this vital ‘action’ and ‘shipping’ products (or services) as marketing guru Seth Godin puts it, they’re thinking they need even MORE qualifications, knowledge and know-how.

    For some businesses, yes, you will need a qualification or an accreditation or a special selection of letters after your name to hang out your shingle.

    But I’ve been pleased to recently meet these successful small business operators: the banker who is a graphic recorder, the physiotherapist who is a facilitator, the actor who is a trainer, the art lecturer who is a kitchen designer, the architect who is selling health products and many others who are just getting on with it. They’re putting their offer out there. They’re taking a risk. They’re risking failure. They’re risking success. And many of them are getting it. Success that is.

    ImageStop studying for a moment will you? Please. In place of all of that study and learning, take some action, implement some of your ideas and ‘ship’ your stuff out the door. Your doubt will only grow, your fear will only multiply and your success will be that much further off if you keep thinking you need another batch of technical knowledge before you … ship it.