Getting comfortable with creativity

By Christopher Rockwell Bent

"Oh crap, I'm the worst drawer in the world" 

This though, accompanied by an initial feeling of uncertainty was how Piccles was first met during MPI's Meeting Design Virtual Summit when I asked everyone to draw themselves. 

Despite the individual creativity required in the events industry, many were still uncomfortable expressing themselves through drawing. Luckily, this was all anonymous with no names attached to the drawings.

And despite the knee-jerk reaction that many have when encountering a new or uncomfortable idea - say it's stupid and psychologically distance yourself - over 100 people pushed their comfort zone and participated instead. 

Creativity and curiosity are old friends. They can usually be found together exploring new terrain and looking under rocks. But they rarely hang out in comfort zones. In fact, they find them quite boring. 

Because that's the catch...you will never be comfortable with creativity. You can only work to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

But being uncomfortable is against our human nature. Comfort means safety, and safety means survival. We are done figuring out survival though...we're at the top of the food chain and survival isn't a daily concern for many. 

Creativity isn't about surviving, it's about thriving. The answer is obvious if you ask any CEO if they would rather survive or thrive. Then why is it that so many corporate cultures stifle creativity in favor of the status quo?

The overwhelming majority of meeting planners attending the virtual summit felt as though they weren't living up to their creative potential, and this is one of the more creative fields. 

As Picasso said "Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up." So where does creativity go as we age?

The short answer: Nowhere. Creativity is like a muscle...it's still there just not being worked.

The long answer:  Starting as early as elementary school where art is nice, but math and language are more important. This prioritization of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) really kicked off in the Cold War after Russians got Sputnik in space, and America needed more scientist's and engineers to build competing spacecraft. It's also easier to run a school system that scores students based on standardized tests because it's damn near impossible to grade creativity by filling in bubbles with a #2 pencil. 

It's a basic human instinct to want to use our imagination and create, but when we're constantly labeled an accountant, engineer or salesperson, we feel pressure to conform to those roles and not venture outside of them. 

That explains why the majority of people responded that self-imposed mental barriers were holding them back more than anything. 

There are no shortage of things holding people back from reaching their full potential, but if one thing can be gathered from this graphic, it's that most of the things holding us back are within us.

Time really comes down to how we prioritize our lives. You have time to eat because it's a priority. Why not make creativity a priority too? It can be as simple as changing your life to free up more time.

Because creativity isn't just creating art. It is doing anything that is not the status quo. Making a new recipe, walking a different way home from work or talking with a stranger are all creative. However small these actions might be, they are time well spent working your creative muscle. 

The more you practice creativity - taking action on your ideas - the easier it becomes and the less scary it becomes. But it will definitely feel scary at first.

So do just one thing today that's outside your routine. You could

  1. Brush your teeth with your left hand
  2. Take three deep, mindful breaths during your lunch break
  3. Compliment a coworkers socks

These will all be uncomfortable at first, but life get's exciting when we get out of our comfort zones. Every action you take outside your standard routine will demonstrate to yourself that you have autonomy and a capacity for change from which creativity will spring.

If you would like a short creative workout delivered to your inbox every Friday morning, sign up for our daily drawing HERE.

Thank you for reading! 

Chris