Most of us can tell a story of an experience as a child when we were told we either couldn’t draw or paint or very quickly we decided that for ourselves. The interesting thinking about drawing is that most of us have huge expectations and when they are not met, we quickly give up because of the lack of trained skill.
Creativity is something we can develop through life, it’s true there may be many people who are natural at it but then isn’t that true of many professions where some people excel and others are mediocre at best.
But drawing is something that is available to everyone and it’s a skill that can be very rewarding and relaxing because it kick start our creative thinking. I once took a friend who hadn’t painted for 30 years to an art club where you could experiment with ideas. She got started and slowly began to relax and create something that a pizza restaurant would be proud of but it didn’t matter, because she had started to unlock her creative side again. But very soon the fact it really did look like a pizza got stronger and she gave up and never came back because she was so unforgiving of her painting, yet most people don’t give up when learning to walk or talk, mainly because we don’t know how to.
We learn to give up and some people get really good at it but if you look back at some of the ancient drawings, they may not qualify for the National Gallery but through them we have been able to listen to an unspoken story of the past and what a tragedy it would be if those people had thrown the towel in.
So in March when the sun starts to shine and we creep out of the dark slumber, get yourself a small sketchbook and start drawing again but think about something specific and that is start drawing the story of your life, in pictures. Drop the judgments because the more you do the better they will become and forget the fact that they may not be hung in the Tate Modern. Start to tell your story for this generation and the next, be remembered for living, you never know where that little sketch book will end up and perhaps it will tell our future generations a story. Imagine in 20 years time sitting down with one of your family, friends or grandchildren and telling them the stories.
You see we all have a creative story teller within us we just need to find them and give them an airing.
I remember the day when I spoke those immortal words to Andy my partner, who has probably been a fisherman well before he could walk! I only went up to Scotland for this weekend for a three day chill out in Scotland, and that included the 11 hour train journey to get there. British Rail should really improve the Spa arrangements on their trains!
I arrived in Forsinard and before I knew it, was whisked off to the Melvich Hotel to find myself having dinner with two English and five Spanish fishermen. The conversations were full of incredible passion about their sport as I listened to the tales of near misses, of triumphs and just darn bad luck, I was enthralled. Within an hour they had me captivated, I knew I shouldn’t have asked questions but I couldn’t help myself and there was no going back. I showed far too much interest and the Spa’s and Shops were fading into the background, being replaced with a fishing rod and a pair of wellies.
The following morning I was kitted out with fishing clothes, apparently high heels are not great for wading in. The clothes were so big I needed a belt to keep them up, looking like a cross between a Hobo and someone from the Australian outback.
Apparently the bright turquoise jacket wasn’t the best choice of colour, which I gather is the reason they wear dark green to blend with nature; they was no blending me in that outfit. On the way to the river Andy gave me some advice, “Be careful you don’t hit the power lines with the rod and don’t fall in the river, the first will kill you and the second gets you soaked”. Classic advice that would serve me well, as I bolted in the opposite direction but I was captured and told not to worry. Then my ghillie (the bloke that knows what to do) also known as Andy, demonstrated how to cast a line out. “Can you give me any advice on how to catch a salmon” I naively asked. “Yes he said “if the hook is in the river, you have a chance of catching a salmon, if it isn’t, you’ve no chance”.
I think his advice was in relation to me treating the rod and line more like a yoyo than a fishing tool. Well it seemed fun flicking the line in and out, apparently that’s called casting. After 20 minutes I felt the line pull and I was positive that I had hooked the otter on the opposite bank, well I didn’t like the way he was scowling at me and I was aiming for him! Then I thought the hook must be stuck on bramble, that was until the end of the fishing line leapt out of the water and on the end of it was a 5lb salmon.
I was speechless as I thrust the rod into Andy’s hand; “Nope” he said “You caught it, you land it”. At this point his friend arrived, Andy’s that is not the salmon’s and they proceeded to have a chat about where to eat later that night. It was reminiscent of the scene in Men in Black when Will Smith gets thrown about by the alien baby in the car whilst Tommy Lee Jones carries on with his conversation. Needless to say the odd word of “tighten the line’ or “let the line go” in between the restaurant discussions reassured me that I was doing ok.
After a few minutes I landed the salmon and Andy unhooked it and made sure it was ok before setting it free to swim off again.
I was dumbstruck by the whole experience, people go fishing for twenty years and never catch a salmon and here was I after 20 minutes.
The real lesson for me was how creative salmon fishing really is, I learnt that day how much emotional creativity is used in the process, and it wasn’t all bravado, which I had anticipated. It was explained to me how to feel at one with a fishing rod and that it was just an extension of me not a piece of wood and metal. It was about clearing your mind and being in nature, and if you were lucky enough to catch a salmon then it was a real bonus but you could still enjoy the whole experience regardless.
I think everyone should have an interest that involves being outdoors; because we spend far too many hours within buildings and it can have such a grounding effect getting back out into nature.
Why not make a promise to yourself this week to get out more and not just to dash about in life but to really experience the beauty that is all around us that we don’t always appreciate until we stop rushing around.
The funny thing is my name will apear in the Trout and Salmon in October, all because I broke one of my own rules, which was not to go fishing.
Will I do it again? Yep I’m hooked!
The hotel chain, Crown Plaza’s launched an initiative for one week only to install real grass in three of their meeting rooms to improve the creativity of their guests. With all the press coverage of the last few days I think the biggest surprise to me has been the total lack of awareness and negativity by some of the so called ‘Creative’ experts.
If someone is really in touch with their creative intelligence and has a high level of emotional intelligence then negativity has no place in the equation. Perhaps we should question some of the ethics of the creative salesmen on the internet who are selling their wares on creativity, yet they take the first opportunity they can to slam the innovative thinking of Crowne Plaza’s initiative.
It intrigued me even more when one of our leading lights on creativity, was asked who inspired him, he replied “No-one”. That raises a question to me “Is it time to reflect within and set the computer to reboot” because clearly if you have lost the ability to be inspired by anyone in life then in my opinion you are on the decline in your own creative awareness.
Sure it’s not conventional what Crowne Plaza have undertaken but if we all followed what we should do rather than what we can do, we’d still be in caves and the wheel would be a distance dream. Creative people who are in touch with their emotional intelligence will embrace change and whether the initiative succeeds or fails in inspiring the organisations who use the rooms, no lives have been lost in the process so I would encourage the creative critics to lighten up and come down from their ivory towers. Life is there to be enjoyed, to be experienced, to be lived, not to spend it pummeling ideas that may actually make all the difference.
I spent last weekend supporting a friend’s art exhibition locally and was actually even more convinced of our creative decline when I went out into the streets asking people how creative they were. It gives me firsthand experience of how out of touch we really are with our creativity, people between 25 and 65 years old were shocked at the thought of being creative and went immediately into denial telling me they weren’t creative in the slightest.
The only person out of dozens that I asked admitted she was very creative and then went on to thank me for acknowledging her presence in the world because no-one had done that all week. A sad reflection of our times that shows we could do with spending unproductive time helping others to just enjoy life more.
I would say to the people who spend their time looking for what doesn’t work rather than what does, to go out and create something worthwhile, after all if the last thing you created was mayhem, it’s not a good impression to leave.
We are truly driven by rules we set ourselves or are imposed on us by others so maybe the time is right to walk on the grass; the fresh air would be good to blow out some of the self indulgent hot air that some of our so called creatives are full of.
You can read some of the coverage here:
Try this little exercise before we discuss these two attitudes;
Imagine you’ve left for work and half way there you’ve realised that you don’t have your mobile phone with you. You have left it at home. Now consider, what would you do? What action would you take? Write the answer here …………………………………
A great many people fall into this category. The number of ‘what ifs’ could easily build to the size of a mountain. Once we begin with ‘what if’ the permutations are endless, backed up by all the usual horror stories of failure, recession and unwarranted risk. A very close cousin to the ‘what if’ is the ‘I told you so’, always waiting there in the wings to remind you of the uselessness of even attempting to change. If you decided to turn around and go back for your mobile phone in the exercise above, then you are likely to be in this category.
‘What if’ people remain steadfastly rooted where they are. It is virtually impossible for them to move on. They are highly creative in the inexhaustible supply of excuses they can fabricate in order to prevent action. So much so, that if they applied even a small percentage of that creative energy to the finding of solutions, they would probably surprise themselves. Typical examples of ‘what if’ thinking with the mobile phone exercise may be as follows:
The truth is that if you have a phobia or irrational fear in relation to anything at all, then you are probably harbouring ‘what if’ tendencies. You may not be consciously aware of them, but they are clearly present within you.
The ‘whatever’ people reside in an entirely different mental landscape; they have one statement that covers every eventuality.
Whatever happens I’ll deal with it and the thoughts that go with it:
Their philosophy is that simple, that straightforward. They believe: ‘whatever life dishes up, we’ll take it on board and ‘deal with it’.
Usually ‘whatever’ people have a number of different strategies they use to deal with life and are likely to have a PLAN B, if something is likely to go wrong then they will have an alternative solution. Ultimately they’ll keep going regardless.
To get past the ‘what if’ mindset you have to step into and then over the river of discomfort, and really start to notice what is happening in your mind and body. Mentally you may feel stressed and even panicky and physically you could find you have a faster heart beat or sweaty palms. Bringing your awareness to what is really happening is key to change. Start recognising the effects and they start to lose the power and control they have on you.
We regularly run Emotional Intelligence Workshops to build your self awareness, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to go on the waiting list for our next event..