Creativity: No Permission Needed

Have you seen this turtle? How about the pirate? Maybe you saw them while growing up in your favorite comic book. Draw the turtle, send in your work and find out if you are good enough to attend the correspondence art school. Do you think the admissions standards were tough? I remember seeing these guys on matchbooks. It’s fun to think about some guy sitting in his F150 with his new pack of Marlboro Reds thinking, “Maybe I am good enough to get into art school!” OK. It’s a Saturday and we are getting ready for a big party with coolers filled with frosty drinks, so forgive me for the silliness, but consider this: Has anyone ever made you believe you aren’t creative.

Conformity and uniformity are valued by some, and we are all taught it from the very beginning. Boys and girls, line up against the wall, and no talking! Order and discipline have their places, for sure, but have you ingested this sleeping serum at the expense of your creativity and quest to do something great.

We aren’t talking about writing the next great novel, though that would be fine. What do you want to do? What do you think about when you sit around on January 1st considering the next 365 ¼ days? What is keeping you from using your gifts, interests and talents?

Think about the technology and tools that you have at your disposal right now to do something creative and special. Do you want to write? Start a blog. Take pictures? Start shooting. Start a new business? Get to work and write a description of your idea on an index card. Do you want to help others or get deeper into your faith? Do it, whatever it is. Do something
and don’t worry about what other people think. You will make mistakes and you will have failures, but you will learn. And don’t worry about asking for permission.

Know Your Strengths

It has been more than 10 years since Now Discover Your Strengths was published and it has evolved into a strong brand in the self-help and personal development marketplace. I recently revisited this material under its StrenghtsFinder 2.0 moniker, and found it to be insightful and worthwhile. The consistency of the tool is telling and compelling.

The StrengthsFinder tool asks a series of paired questions – “would you rather do this or that” – to identify your themes, things about you that can be developed into talents. I did the survey for the first time in 2001 and again last month, and though some of the themes changed, “individualization” was still in my top five (of 34 possible themes, characteristics about you). As I reflect over the last two years, I have built my business writing résumés and professional profiles for public relations purposes, this theme of wanting to get to know people at an individual level and understanding what makes them unique has been an asset.

What are you good at? What themes can be developed into strengths that will make you great at your work and loving it? If you don’t know, maybe it’s time to find out. Invest $10 and couple of hours into yourself, understand what makes you tick, and consider how this has manifested itself in your life. You may be surprised at the self-realization that comes from the effort, and you will not regret the effort.