Finding Your Creative Edge
TL;DR — If you fill out the form at the end of this story it will help me build a live cohort-based creative course.
I’m a terrible marketer (when it comes to my own work). I am perpetually stuck in Scholar Mode, my default creative compass setting. I’m usually heads down in research, needing to know more, wanting to make deeper connections. I think of hundreds of projects, books, courses, ideas that only get to 80% completion. (Remember All-Day Breakfast, The Post-Normal Show, or The Creator’s Journey? Yeah, me neither.) I post about them enthusiastically at first, and then slowly let myself down (and anyone else that was waiting for more).
I don’t get to the end because I’m trying to boil the ocean or count the stars. My work is never done, and it’s never quite ‘right,’ either. There is always something to learn, to add, to change. Just give me one more minute, day, year…
This perfectionism is not only exhausting but debilitating. It’s a huge barrier that stands between me and sharing my work. It has prevented me from finishing the creativity book I started (and restarted, and re-restarted) a decade ago.
It has caused crippling self-doubt and impostor syndrome. “How can I possibly be an authority on something as infinite as creativity? Besides, there are a million books on the subject already…”
But every Creative Mode can be balanced with another. When a mode doesn’t come naturally to you, it takes awareness and practice to make a shift into a more suitable style. Specific tools and techniques can accelerate this temporary transformation.
For example, to mitigate the Scholar for this post, I muzzled my inner critic by giving myself a false deadline (a basic tool that pushes you closer to Maker Mode) to finish the Creative Compass graphic. Then I employed the spontaneous sprint (another basic tool to push you closer to Empath Mode) to rapidly write a genuine, personal story from the heart. These two activities combined shifted me into reverse, into Artist Mode, where I could apply my craft without fear.
You see, the Artist doesn’t worry about mistakes. In fact, mistakes are part of what makes their work original! Like thumbprints on a pot, or the ‘happy little accidents’ of Bob Ross, they become part of the process to get the desired results.
And you know what happened? I published an abridged version of this story on LinkedIn and Twitter with a major typo in the above graphic. Empath was spelled ‘emapth’. It wasn’t until someone commented (publicly) about my mistake that I saw it. I felt a cold, cold horror begin to creep up my chest and into my throat. My inner-critic came roaring back:
“A typo?! I told you something like that was going to happen! You’re moving too fast! You’re an embarrassment! You just lost all credibility! You certainly won’t be getting any English majors signing on to your course!”
But in the Empath’s toolkit is the small practice of recognizing that your feelings come from your own thoughts. Those thoughts will eventually move on, and your feelings will also move on. These moments of sheer horror and embarrassment are temporary, and can even be ignored if you’re up to it. I call this tool Little Fluffy Clouds (after this song by the Orb), because it’s like meditation: recognize and acknowledge your thoughts & feelings, but don’t linger on them. Let them be. Let them simply drift by without focus or judgement. 🧘🏻
You are not your mistakes. Even though the Scholar, the over-thinker, told me something like this was bound to happen, I could shut it down and move on. I deleted the post, fixed the typo, and reposted. Nobody died.
Some days we are all just ‘emapths’.
When I started this journey, my intent was a bit meta: perhaps the creative research I was doing on my book would help me to actually write the book itself. Over time I began to see and understand the creative roles and responsibilities involved in the whole process. And thanks to the testing and development of my own tools, like the Creative Compass, I’m able to push beyond most barriers.
I’ve learned many things the hard way (aka failure) but that has only strengthened my resolve to teach these methods and ideas to others. ‘Failure’ is just ‘learning’ in a scary outfit. Every Creative Mode, from Maker to Philosopher, from Designer to Empath, from Artist to Scholar, comes with its own strengths and challenges, its own set of barriers and tools.
Are you interested in discovering your own default Creative Mode? Do you want to know how to shift modes and directions by building your own customized toolkit of transformative techniques? Do you want a deeper understanding of the basic building blocks of creativity itself?
Here’s where I get awkward
I’ve been offered a chance to create a cohort-based course on a brand new platform called Maven.com. I’m very excited to test out my material in a live setting, speaking and interacting with students in a mutually beneficial environment.
But there’s one small catch.
I need to prove that there is interest in my material to be considered. By signing up below, you are increasing my chances of realizing my dream. This is not an easy thing for me to ask for. My inner critic is freaking out right now, telling me how low my numbers will be, and how pathetic this whole endeavour is, to begin with. This is my response:
️️️️☁️ ☁️ ☁️
Some of what you will learn
- The 3 basic elements of creativity and how they work together
- Your default Creative Mode
- Where you are in a creative project & where you need to go next
- How to enhance your creative discipline, boost your innate curiosity, and augment your awareness
You will leave this class with
- More create confidence!
- The Creative Compass method to find your best creative path forward
- A personalized creative toolkit filled with exercises and methods for overcoming barriers and boosting your best output
If any of this sounds interesting to you, please take 1 minute to fill out the form. There’s no cost or obligation to sign up.
Or if you know someone else who might be interested, please share so they can hear about it, too.