Word-Of-the-Week #658: Nurture

March 16, 2017 by  

Nurture – to encourage and promote development.

Do you have creative dreams that you’d like to turn into reality? How about unfinished projects that have been pushed aside? Do you have one activity that really spurs your creativity?

This week’s focus – excerpts from Tap your well of creativity by Alene Dawson from The La Times. She writes, “Here in L.A., many a “creative” crafts vision boards, recites affirmations and generally begs and barters with the gods for inspiration and stick-to-itiveness — as still-undone projects nag at the do-it-tomorrow soul. Rather than letting your genius ideas languish another year, another decade, another lifetime, we asked creativity experts to share tips on how to actually complete your book, script, music composition, art or design project and transform your creative dreams into a reality.

“For really creative people … your biggest enemy is procrastination,” says Tom Kelley, who with his brother, David Kelley, wrote the book “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.” He’s also a partner at the lauded design and innovation firm IDEO (it designed the original mouse for Apple) and speaks on creativity across the globe. The good news? You can fight back that tendency, with practice. “Nurture your own creativity. It’s the combination of the natural creative ability and also the courage to act and stamina to keep going on things.”

  1. Figure out when you’re at your best. – “A really simple, super-tactical thing people can do,” Kelley says, “is just kind of turn up the creative yield on ideas that are already starting to form in their minds, right? When do you have your best ideas? So if you’re a little bit mindful, people find that, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a time when I’m most creative, it’s … when I’m on a long commute and my mind is wandering,’ or if you find, like me, it’s the first five minutes of the morning. Then don’t jump out of bed or go back to sleep when the alarm goes off, stay in that kind of creative mindset for the first five minutes until the snooze alarm rings. So you find your time, and then you protect it, and then capture your ideas that occur during those times.”

He suggests writing down good ideas immediately because you’ll most likely forget them. Kelley keeps two pads of paper at his bed at all times. “My brother, David, has a white board and marker in the shower,” Kelley says, adding people most commonly tell him the shower is their most creative idea space. “There is no email in the shower. There is nothing to engage your mind and so your mind gets to wander.”

It may also be a specific piece of music that helps your creativity flourish. Once you know what gets your creative juices flowing, use that to your advantage. “The great thing about that is it becomes Pavlovian. … It’s like, hey brain, remember what we do when this music plays?”

  1. Find a “reverse mentor.” –Somebody who may or may not be 5, 10, 15, 20 years younger than you who is exposed to insight, trends or new ideas you might otherwise miss. The easiest way to do this is, for example, take them to lunch every second Thursday for the next six weeks. Explain that you want them to expand the horizon looking for stuff you should know about it. You may be wiser or have more education than this mentor, but you stand to learn even more. You’ll be so much smarter, you’ll have so much more stimulus. … People tell me this really turns up their creativity.
  1. Change your routine. – Kelley uses taking a “gap year” before college as an example, when young adults get to learn and experiment with new things beyond book learning. Kelley says someone already mid-career usually can’t quite afford or doesn’t want to do a whole gap year, “so you can designate a gap week or a gap month where you change up your routine. You start going to different restaurants, hanging out in different neighborhoods, maybe you meet different people, keep different hours, maybe take an online course during that month. … Try living in a different city for a little while. I actually did this last year and it totally changed my life. … It’s that old thing of a certain form of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
  1. Battle procrastination. Epically. –“I found tremendous help from a book called ‘The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles’ by Steven Pressfield. It recharacterizes procrastination. … Procrastination sounds like a personality flaw, but when a person recharacterizes procrastination into capital-R resistance — a force for evil in the world and it is your job to overcome resistance, rather than being weak — resistance is a call for me to be strong, a call to be a fighter,” says Kelley.
  1. Try walking, especially in nature – Daniel L. Schwartz, dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, says gentle physical activity, such as walking, softens the filters that block “crazy, but sometimes creative, ideas from coming to the surface” and may also put people in a “golden spot” of increased intellectual vitality. Other simple, familiar activities may also trigger a creative flow.

And I know from personal experience taking a walk spurs tons of creativity. It’s easy and pretty cheap! Inspiration is all around us. When do you get your best ideas? Do you keep a notepad handy to write down when inspiration hits? Is there any one thing that is causing Resistance?  This week’s focus is to encourage and develop your creativity!

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