Many people have creative sides to their nature, or creative flashes in their otherwise logical lives. There are other unique individuals whose creative gifts define their life. Their creativity fuels them and at the same time drives them, colors their perceptions of the world and of others, and influences their personal relationships. Highly creative people are always in the process of creating and cultivating the garden that is their lives. To all of you creatives I offer some seeds and some tools: some seeds of self-awareness and some tools for potential power and action. You decide which belong in your garden: which seeds to plant and water, and which tools to use. If you don’t feel particularly creative yourself, perhaps these seeds and tools will help you better understand your creative friends, family members, and associates.

1.  Seed:  Your creativity is your gift, not your identify

The talents of truly creative people are often recognized in childhood. If your creativity was recognized at a young age chances are that you were told, “You have a great gift,” and that, “It is your responsibility to use it.” 

Related: What Is The Treasure House Within You & Concious And Subconcious Mind

Over time, your feeling of uniqueness and specialness as a person becomes linked to your unique and special talent until they begin to merge seamlessly. Your talent becomes not just your gift, but also your identity. Society expects creatives to “live their gift.” The link becomes stronger and stronger each time you experience recognized success and external validation for your gift.  Eventually you may lose the ability to separate Who You Are from What You Do. Without the ability to see this critical distinction your gift can become a prison:

  • You may feel driven by your gift, unable to choose to walk away from it, or scale back on your commitment to it.
  • You may feel external pressure (friends, family, society) to “honor” your gift.

Success tool: Relearn critical distinctions that may have been lost.  Examples:

  • There is a distinction between who I am and what I do.
  • I can choose to apply my gift any way I want (e.g., I “Choose to play Hamlet”) versus I was born to apply my gift in a certain way (e.g., “I was born to play Hamlet.”)

2.  Seed:  There is a positive and negative side to working alone

There are many creative endeavors that lend themselves to solo pursuit for example, writing, sculpting, and painting. That said, many creatives choose to work by themselves, even when opportunities to collaborate with others present themselves. If you see your art as a reflection of who you are, you may feel a great need to personalize it. There is both a good and bad side to working alone.

Related: The Power Of Subconscious Mind – Positive and Negative Thought

The good side:

  • You can create in peace and quiet without distraction.
  • Your creation is yours alone.

The bad side:

  • You may suffer from your aloneness.
  • You may find it difficult to make money from your creativity, since your aloneness may prevent you from staying in touch with the customers for your art or others who would help you sell, market and distribute what you create.
  • You may find it frustrating to take any kind of a “day job” to support yourself that requires group collaboration or brainstorming because:
  • Your ideas seem so obviously better to you than those proposed by others. If you go along with the group’s ideas, you feel untrue to yourself and unable to commit to the group’s decisions. When you do not, you feel alienated and misunderstood. 
  • Your creative inspiration may drive you to push on to the next project before you have completed the details of the last one, allowing others to reap what you sow.

Success tools:

  • If you intend to make a living from selling your creations, set up a structure for consistent communication with the marketplace.
  • If you find yourself needing to work in a group (e.g., corporate) setting to make a living, realize that you do not need to express all of your creative gifts at work. Remember that you can express your creativity though private projects/art, or through planning for future or simultaneous self-employment.

3.  Seed:  Sharpening your communication skills can help you share your vision

Most creatives have a strong vision that they want to communicate to the world. While some express this vision through their solo creations (e.g., paintings, sculptures), many work in creative fields where they must achieve their creative vision through others. For example, if you are a producer, director, choreographer, or entrepreneur you need to train and inspire others to carry out your great vision. If you are a designer (e.g., architect, interior designer, set designer, costume designer, fashion designer) you must create your vision to fit the specific needs of your clients. In both these cases good communication skills are essential so that your vision and its implementation are appropriately linked. 

Success tools:

  • To inspire others to actions, sharpen your ability to articulate your vision, state requirements, provide feedback, set standards, and delegate.
  • To properly interpret the requirements of customers, sharpen your listening skills, and learn to keep your own needs and desires from influencing what you hear.

4.  Seed:  You can take back the control that you gave to others

Many creatives are frustrated because they believe that all of their possibilities lie in the hands of others (e.g., their agents, publishers). Creatives are often very good at weaving creative stories about why they aren’t, or can’t be, successful. It is important to realize that you give away your power when you fall back on coping techniques like escape, denial, and blame.

Success tool: Give yourself the gift of accepting responsibility for everything in your life. This leaves you free to choose and choose again as new possibilities present themselves. As an artist, affirm that you are living in your own story and apply your hand to the creation of your own life. Related: Tips For Improving Your Low Self-Esteem

5.  Seed:  Forget “success” and “failure” think “contribution”

Creative thinking and positive mindset

Many creatives are driven by twin needs – the need to be successful and the fear of failure. They seek feedback but, because they identify so completely with their art, unconditional validation is appreciated much more than honest evaluation. Ask yourself: Do you feel that when someone validates your art they are validating you?  Do you take negative feedback regarding your work personally and to heart? Are you never quite sure if you are loved for who you are or for what you have accomplished?

Success tools: 

  • Redefine your work as an opportunity for contribution, not a battleground for success or failure.
  • Remember the distinction between who you are and what you do. 
  • Know that both you and your creations are a gift to others.
  • Remember that  “mistakes” are part and parcel of the definition of performance. 

6.  Seed:  You can set standards versus unrealistic expectations

Most creatives see huge possibilities so they have very high, often unrealistic, expectations of themselves and the world. When they don’t meet their own expectations this can negatively impact their self-esteem. In addition, they become mad and frustrated when others don’t live up to their expectations.

Success tool: Learn to set reasonable standards for yourself and others versus unrealistic expectations. 

7.  Seed:  The “artist’s” lifestyle can be addicting

Many creatives find themselves enslaved by a life that they have chosen. They embrace the “artist’s lifestyle” that frequently includes:

  • Feeling exhausted from constantly operating with no reserve.
  • Being addicted to adrenaline, suffering, and external validation.
  • Feeling alienated and misunderstood. 

Success tools: 

  • Treat yourself well versus allowing your suffering simply because you think, “I’m an artist…”
  • Remember that pain in life is inevitable but suffering is optional. Choose bliss over suffering.
  • Remember that pure creativity for its own sake without some tangible result can be an addition or compulsion – don’t jump around endlessly from project to project. Strive for some closure. Get one thing done perfectly.

8.  Seed:  You can create and make money

Text image of you can earn money my doing what you love

Many creatives love to create but hate to sell what they create.  They are driven by the creative process itself, and are more anxious to move on to the next project, than to exploit the potential of the one they just finished. 

Success tools:

  • Learn the tools of “attraction” marketing versus promotion/seduction. They are much more appealing to the creative personality.
  • Examine possibilities for using your creative skill in connection with something else that will profit you. Ask yourself, “What other talents am I suppressing that could profit me?” A great example I personally witnessed:  I attended a coaching conference where the keynote speaker (who was a well known, well paid Coach) ended her speech by singing a song!  She was a wonderful entertainer, both in her speaking and her singing, and found an ingenious way to bring her vocal gift to a huge audience and get well paid to boot!

9.  Seed:  What happens if you don’t win the lottery?

Creatives often live in hopes of getting one “big break.” They want to make money doing something creative but are unwilling to do the tedious stuff that goes with it.

Success tools: 

  • Learn the power of taking baby steps and implementing/following a process.

10.  Seed:  What happens if you do win the lottery?  Are you ready for success? 

Sometimes creatives do get that lucky break, and are instantaneously thrust into the spotlight of success. Because many are loners by nature, they are overwhelmed by the attention and caught off guard with poor relating skills. They may also end up “over-celebrating” their successes (too much indulging and partying). 

Success Tools:

  • Continuously develop your communication and relating skills.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Stay grounded in Who you are.

11.  Seed:  It’s possible to simultaneously risk too much and too little

Creatives unknowingly risk too much in their personal life (e.g., their financial health, their relationships, their physical health, their peace of mind) while risking too little in their careers. They often create their art but don’t put it out to the world for fear of rejection. They lose and the world loses. Related: Top Tips of Self-Improvement

Success tool: 

  • Learn the distinction between creating on the edge versus living on the edge (a distinction first defined by Thomas Leonard).
  • Remember the inspiring words of Martha Graham (quoted by Agnes DeMille): “There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

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