TEDx Bournemouth – Part 3: – Unlocking Your Creative Mind
(Continued… Read Part 2 here)
This is a longer post, but an important part of the story. So settle down my friends and enjoy Part 3…
Not only did they describe to me the story but they also were undecided on aspects of their painting! Josiah was particularly fascinating. He explained to me about the green trees and the blue sky. He pointed out the brown earth and told me that this is “all that god has made Daddy”. Beautiful, I thought to myself and asked – “what is this yellow bit here”? Hmmmmmm – Yes, he said “I haven’t yet decided what that’s going to be Daddy”. We all laughed and went to wash hands before dinner.
That’s when it hit me.
Without even knowing it, we had stumbled across a great truth of the creative mind. It is not fixed.
There was no end ‘outcome’ or label for the yellow part in Josiah’s painting. He simply told me he wasn’t yet sure. Today it might be a shower of golden coins in the forest and tomorrow it might be rocket fuel firing into space. That’s when it hit me. As adults we need constant verification. Immediate outcome and tangible a,b,c = x,y,z. But that’s not what creativity is. Creative minds flourish given time and space. They need to be given an immensity of freedom to express a depth of consciousness without prescribed limits and restrictions. And so the title of my talk was born, thanks to my wisest teachers:
Imagination – Unlocking Your Creative Mind
That was it. The lesson I realised was simple. A creative mind is a mind full of magic and imagination is the key to unlocking that magic. When I thought of all the creative geniuses I knew, one stood out that had to be mentioned. Lionel Messi. I spent some time in Barcelona, where I was privileged to learn of his journey. With the help of my translator, I learned that he was forced to overcome some pretty difficult hurdles. But is was these very hurdles that led him to achieve great success. When Lionel was young, he was smaller than most players, but had a clear passion for running with the ball. The problem was, that when he was younger he was also very small. Any attempt to run with the ball was cut off by the bigger boys who were stronger and more physically dominant. So the coaches were forced to make a decision. Were they going to tell him to play it simple and keep the ball? Don’t take risks, just do the basic thing and keep possession? Well, it’s here that the story gets really interesting. Here’s what the Barcelona coach said :
“We realised that in order for Lionel to realise his potential we had to support him with a passion that made him different. Instead of openly criticising him for making mistakes, we decided to give him the ball back every time he lost it. We encouraged and instructed. try the step over, the drag back or the Maradona turn”. The message was simple. Try until you succeed.
Another powerful concept of creativity was born in my mind.
What does a child learn growing up in an environment like this?
1. I am not going to be criticised for the mistakes that I make. The mistake does not define me, my attitude to try again and respond to the set-back does.
2. I will be rewarded for the effort that I show, over and above the outcome that I achieve.
The coaches didn’t prescribe to Messi a single thing. They openly encouraged him to find the solutions to the challenge in front of him. having recognised his creative potential, decided to let it flourish with positivity and hard work.
That’s another myth about creativity. It seems we’ve become accustomed to separating the expressive, artistic imaginations from those that are hard working, disciplined and determined. In fact when we look a little closer we realise that the two are inseparable. It is absolutely possible, indeed integral, for a creative artist to be free to express, to persist and persevere in the face of set back after set back. Messi is living proof of this.
I wonder what might have happened to Lionel Messi had the coaches not adopted this Growth Mindset approach with him?
What if he just kept the ball by passing simply? Would we have ever been witness to the magnificence of his world leading skill and artistry? My hunch is no.
So Messi led me to think about why creative minds flourish, but his story also made me question what the forces are that stifle expressive imagination. Once of the forces that keeps creative minds closed is fear. Fear that we don’t have enough; money; academic qualifications; experience; time you name it. One of the biggest fears that adults get really good at is ‘fear of what others think of us’. It’s a precarious illusion at best, but one that stifles our ability to share unique ideas and perspectives.
It’s the social impression that voices it’s opinion and tells us to be realistic.
“Don’t set the bar too high, you’re only going to be disappointed when you don’t achieve it”.
I hear things like this all the time. The truth is, as Will Smith puts it, being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity.
Where does realistic get you? Destination average. Normal. THE SAME. The same, does not equal unique. Realistic implies that there are limits to that which we can achieve.
The truth is, there are no limits. The only limits that exist are the one’s we place on ourselves through the way that we think, and therefore in control to remove. Realistic is an opinion. A perception. A choice. If we study anyone who has achieved anything spectacular or magnificent we are not likely to find the voice behind that success whispering ‘be realsitic’. That voice bellowed for greatness.
We all have a unique capacity for bringing to mind that which is not present and manifesting it into the physical realities of this universe. That is what distinguishes us from every other living creature. It’s what makes us unique. It is exactly what imagination and creativity are.
Creativity is Imagination applied.
It involves connecting our intentions to our actions. It involves seeing with our minds eye and doing something to make that dream vision a reality.
With this is mind, the Dream Vision Plant Pot exercise was born.
Read about it in Part 4… soon