July: Creative Courage

Creative Courage.jpg

I have always loved the quote, “Creativity takes courage,” by Henri Matisse. And, now (thanks to Dawn Ali) it even sits in a beautiful frame on my desk!

Creativity is an innate part of being human.  We are all Native Creatives. Even people who do not identify as “creative” leak it out in how they cook a meal, present a new idea, craft a new beer…

So why do so many hesitate to call themselves creative and why does creativity require such courage?

I was listening to Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and, in a part of her research, she asked people to tell a story of being shamed from their childhood.  Half of the participants shared a shame story around creativity!  

Someone told them they couldn’t draw, a teacher said they would never be a professional dancer, a family member ridiculed them for writing poetry, etc.  I have been told countless similar stories by people throughout the years and it broke my heart every time.

I view creativity as the natural expression of the soul.  And that expression is never meant to be judged or compared to another’s expression. Period.  If a person wants to play with a new process or learn a technique, awesome. But art-making isn’t just for artists.

I have taught art for many years and, for me, it was about recognizing each student’s expression.  And encouraging them to keep doing so in a joyful way as a means of seeing and understanding themselves and their world and sharing it with others.  When a child asks you if something they drew is good, the majority of the time it is not an invitation to tell them about their technique or how it compares to some famous artist. What they really mean is, “Do you see me?  Do you see what I felt in my heart and experienced in my imagination?”

This brings me to another reason why creativity takes courage.  You are sharing your heart. You are offering up your soul. You are putting forth, sometimes with shaking knees and trembling hands, an idea or product or creation that came from inside you.  And it is now in a space outside of you where others can judge it or reject it or ignore it or want to change it…

It can trigger so many of our fears, bring up insecurities and stimulate copious amounts of negative self-talk.  The judges on the outside just reflect the judges in our own head and make them louder.

For these reasons and more, it’s easy to see why many folks feel creatively blocked or think they just don’t have it to begin with.  Yet, in every one I have ever met, I have always seen the desire to create. It may be the quietest of whispers, but it is there as long as someone is breathing.  And in some of us, the urge is a raging river that we have to learn how to bravely ride. 

Why though? Why does creativity persist?

Because at our core, we are creators.  We are a part of creation. A creative process brought our very being into this world and that capacity lives on within us. It doesn’t just go away. Harnessing that power to literally manifest things for ourselves and others is deeply satisfying soul work. 

Whether you create art, a business, a child, a meal, it is a process of growth, of becoming more than you once were.  You are creating yourself as you create. You become more of your best self as you sift through unknowns, learn through failure and experience sweet moments of clarity.  Then, you get to stand back to view what you just made in amazement because it came from inside you - because it now exists when it once did not - because somehow, along the way, it fulfilled innate human yearnings to be seen, heard, understood and connected to something bigger.

Creativity is innate and it is a tool we all need to nurture for our self-development, professional development and change agent toolbox.  So, how do you become more empowered as a creator?

First of all, if you don’t identify as a creative, I invite you to start.  You become what you decide to be. It all starts with thinking and saying, “I am creative.”  We are all natives in the land of creativity.

Then, I encourage everyone to actually make a list of the ways you are creative.  Where did you put a bit of soul into something? When did you stir up something in your imagination?  How did you try something in a new way? You will be astounded to see all the ways this part of yourself is flowing out each day. 

Lastly, take a moment to dissect what that process is like for you.  What inspires you? What environment nurtures your process? How do you like to capture it? What do you need from other people? How do you best express it? All of that is a part of your unique expression and path of creation. Maybe you want to create something artistic. Maybe you want to create a new lifestyle. Maybe you want to create a new procedure that is more efficient.  No matter what it is, your creative process can unlock it for you.

If you need any help, I am always an email, message, or phone call away if you want support in achieving your creative dreams.  You can become a Patron on Patreon and for just $12 for the year, you will receive tools to empower as well.  

I hope you know see just how much that word “creative” encompasses and embrace this power inside of you for your highest purpose and the highest good of all.  I would love to know what this makes you think about in the comments below.