I embarked on the Creative Pathfinder journey on September 3, 2010 – eight months ago! And I’ve so enjoyed the experience – every step on the “path” I’m finding/creating. I’ve said it before, but need to say it again: Mark McGuinness is smart, and wise, and insightful, and Creative, and most generous to share this course for Free. It’s worth a lot. I’ve benefited a great deal in these eight months of examining myself and learning methods and practices to increase my productivity and success.
Topic = What Motivates Us?
- I have a hard time ranking the intrinsic motivations. Really they are all super important to me, but if I had to, this is how I would prioritize them: meaning; purpose; creative flow; interest; learning; challenge. This is helpful to know in terms of how to get and stay really motivated.
- Also good to consider that extrinsic motivators do play their role and help us along, too. For example, I particularly enjoy praise (positive feedback, etc) and appreciation.
- And it’s always worth keeping in mind that the hardest part usually is getting started. I find that once I “get into it” the momentum builds on itself.
The funny thing is, the work is usually quite enjoyable when you get going and intrinsic motivation takes over. But to get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.
- Keep reminding myself that meaning and purpose (my two biggest motivators) are found in the simplicity of living each moment to its fullest: being really Here and Now, being the best we can be (our Authentic Self), and offering our Positive Energy to the world around us, whatever we are doing, no matter how small it may seem. And also remind myself that every time I pick up a pen, paintbrush, pastel, marker, etc, and start moving, if I stick with it for awhile, I get into the creative flow (the third of my motivators) and what a nice place that is to be!
Topic = Rejection and Criticism
- Yes, when we “put our heart and soul” (even a small bit of it) into our work, it hurts when others don’t like/appreciate it. Also, we all just, at a fundamental level, want to be loved – that’s human nature, whether we’re aware of it or not.
- Similarly to homeopathic medicine, when we expose ourselves (in small doses) ,repeatedly, to what challenges us, we become stronger.
- It matters not that we fall down and get dirty. (We will – it’s a natural part of being human.) What matters is how we choose to respond. If we learn and grow from the experience then we are living our purpose.
- Meditate everyday! By tuning in to my Inner Light, my Highest Self, and connecting with the Abundantly Positive Energy of the Universe, I am strong, balanced, calm, clear, and confident. I’m planning to participate in The Chopra Center’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge.
Topic = Difficult People
People are much more complex than the labels we stick on them.
- Not only do we generate potentially negative energy by labeling people, we also limit the possibilities for how we can interact with them. If we recognize them as multi-dimensional, ever-changing, infinite beings like ourselves (see last Lesson 22 ‘Actions’ re meditation…) we expand the possibilities tremendously.
- As usual, focusing on the specifics is worth every bit of effort. If we understand what we want from the other person, and why, and if we take the time to understand their perspectives and motivations (empathy serves us well), we can approach the situation with clarity and a big-picture view.
In Aikido, Harmony, and the Business of Living (Zanshin Press), Richard Moon calls the practice of being fully present and fully aware “Feel Where You Are.” If you are to truly listen, engage, and empathize with someone challenging you then you yourself must be completely aware of your situation and aware of their situation and all the subtle signals. One who is fully in the present cannot be caught off guard. “Feeling where you are,” says Moon, “refines awareness into attention.
- Give others respect and understanding by not labeling them, not assuming, just as I hope others will do for me.
- See last Lesson 22 ‘Actions’ re meditation…
Topic = Fun and Informative Presentations
- The best presenters are great storytellers. They know why they are asking for their audiences attention and what the desired post-presentation actions are. And, they weave in interesting stories that illustrate their points, so the audience is entertained while being informed. While studying architecture, learned that even math can be fun (for an arts and literature type) to learn when taught by someone who is friendly, funny, entertaining, and engaging.
- Follow the ‘three key points + call to action = the structure of your presentation’ formula for fun and informative presentations.
Topic = Managing Creatives
- As fellow creatives, even if we are in roles not traditionally seen as creative (IT project manager, etc..), we understand that freedom plays a big role in our ability to produce. If we are too limited by micromanagement, the flow of our ideas and thus our products/deliverables get restricted. And, every one of us has some creative fire within, even if it’s not regularly applied, or even recognized. So, even if our title is not “manager”, when we are managing and coordinating projects and the people involved in those projects, we’ll do well to encourage that creative fire and the brilliance it can produce by giving freedom of thought and action.
- Feedback! As a communications and project manager (by nature and profession), I cannot say enough about the value of feedback. The best managers I have had over the years were those who regularly shared their thoughts/feelings about my performance and work. I learn so much, we all do, when others take the time to share their perspectives with us. I also encourage you to actively seek it out as well, as even the most well-intentioned managers sometimes need to be asked. And, whenever you are giving feedback (either solicited or unsolicited), also see it as an opportunity to ask for feedback yourself.
- I’m a pretty good listener, but I know what it feels like when someone you are trying to share with is not totally focused on you – it feels like “why bother?” And we’re missing a lot of greatness when we are not really present in the moment with those around us. So, I commit to greater presence and attention when sharing with others. Oh ya, this is important in a management sense, because as we learned in Lesson 23 (when dealing with difficult situations), through understanding others we have a better chance of getting the desired outcomes.
Topic = Measuring Success
- Regular self reflection and assessment allow us to see where we’ve been, how we’ve been doing, and how that measures up to the goals we’ve set for ourselves.
- Yes, let’s say it again: money is a positive resource if we are using it to do good (and doing good includes taking Great care of ourselves and feeling Great all the time.) The more we prosper, the more good we can do!
- What we focus our energy on is what we get. So if we desire to be a positive force in the world, we need to actively envision and work towards that.
Maybe you want to save the world, or at least part of it. Or maybe you want to delight and amaze it, which is just as valid. But if you don’t make it a priority, you risk falling short.
- I so, so, so appreciate Mark’s shining light on an area that many of us fail to give attention to: recognizing “the positive difference we are already making to others and the world at large.” This is a positive use of our energy and attention. As we acknowledge, and celebrate, the good we are doing each day, we are inspired to do more good! I also appreciate Mark encompassing animals, plants, the environment, and the Universe in the web which we are connected to. And lastly, I would like to enthusiastically agree that even the smallest gestures/actions/reactions can have a large and positive impact, frequently rippling out far beyond what we imagine.
- Some of the primary goals I am actively working on?: more collaborating, connecting, and positively contributing.
- Continuing to cultivate Mindfulness. Being Awake and Aware and trusting my gut/instinct/inner wisdom and the Universe to guide me along this brilliant path.
- Find meaning and purpose in the choices I make and the actions I take each day which positively contribute to the world around me and the universe as a whole. What a perfect note to end the course on!
Four more weeks of The Creative Pathfinder Course full of valuable lessons on nurturing our creative talents and successfully bringing them forth into the world. See this post for context and week 1-4 lessons.
Note: As my study and practice of meditation and consciousness continues (see my last post, or previous posts on meditation), I see more and more overlap between the wisdom of those life elements and healthy, successful creative work.
Topic = Information Processing
- Through our senses and our consciousness, and subconscious, we are sponges, continuously taking in information (etymology: knowledge communicated.) And in order to utilize all that info, we must process it. Learning, and practicing effective processing methods has a profound effect on our creative output.
This is how I’m seeing the flow of energy:
- Reframing: This is such a key, not just for opening up creative possibilities, but also a critical skill for enjoying life. A truly important lesson: how we interpret and what we do with our experiences is always Our Choice. This is a gift – Use It!!! And, as with any other skill, the more we practice it, the better we get and the more natural it becomes.
The more you do this, the more you will realise how much human beings make themselves happy, sad, anxious, or plain miserable over their interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.
And, as one of my favorite wisdom teachers says:
Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.
- Mind Mapping: This is fun stuff. It’s great to get away from just black and white, left to right, and heavy reliance on words. Letting ideas flow freely and arranging them organically and colorfully is liberating and definitely helps us see things in new ways.
As you draw the mind map, you will start to see relationships and patterns emerge as if by themselves, which will help you order the material later on.
- Insight: means “sight with the eyes of the mind”; internal sight; inner knowing. I like the recognition that we can cultivate this gift through our actions. It’s not about just waiting to be struck with knowing, as with all growth it comes through continued effort.
This is how I’m seeing the Insight Flow
As I was writing about this lesson, this guidance (from an Insightful teacher! – see my last post on the SAND conference) synchronistically came to me:
Often our best ideas come, not when we are struggling to solve the problem, but when we are doing something completely different. When the mind is free and relaxed. So if you are struggling with something right now, take five minutes off. Give yourself a break. Do something completely different.
- Creative Flow: Again, being present and mindful, we begin to discover what choices and actions make our creative energy flow and what tangles it up. And also, knowing our true passions, our Big Dreams, and dedicating a majority of our time and energy to those pursuits, naturally feeds the flow. When we are in that flowing river, we are part of the cosmic rhythm, without separation, moving beyond space and time.
- The suggestion to observe those around us as they frame reality is a great one. Because, it is frequently easier to learn by observing externally. That practice, along with our personal practice of consciousness development, helps us see the self-limiting frames we all use, and to reframe. So, I will be paying closer attention to others and my self. As I observe negative/unproductive/self-limiting frames, I will run through the list of positive/productive/expansive options and shifting frames. And, in the creative realm, I’ll be giving more thought to the lenses (frames) that inspirational artists are using, and looking at my work (the tools/techniques/mediums/subjects/etc) through a variety of new lenses.
- I am in the midst of my first mind map, and a broadly encompassing one at that. Having fun with it and will write about when done. I plan to utilize this technique for other life and creative reviews/planning sessions.
- As I am more regularly in the moment (through meditation and consciousness development), I am more able to fully apply myself to the work, sense when it is time to take a break and shift focus, open to the insights that arise, and committed to using them constructively.
- I am consciously giving more of my time and energy to my passions and minimizing distractions to the flow.
Topic = Free Flowing Creative Energy
- Everyone experiences creative blocks, they do pass, and there are tricks to help them pass more quickly? That’s comforting!
- There are many, many reasons we resist doing good work. If we are really in the moment, we can recognize our inner dialogue and reframe it!
- Self discipline is critical, too. I like the suggestion to commit to staying present, with your materials, and bringing your focus back to the work.
Remembering why you are doing it and why it is worth the effort are great motivators as is envisioning the future we are creating.
- Sharing the experience of blocked creativity with trusted friends/family/colleagues/teachers often brings support and understanding which can actually loosen the block.
- The suggestion of making a list of past successes and continuously adding to it is great! We don’t tend to take much time to reflect on all that we have accomplished in life.
- Sometimes we just need to take a break, to shift focus. The more we know our true self, the more we’ll know when that’s what’s called for. And, just like developing an understanding of what keeps your creative energy flowing, we need to learn the best ways (for us) to rest and rejuvenate.
Just as others can inspire us to good work, we can inspire ourselves.
- I need to get going on that List of Past Successes.
- Read more of Mark’s ‘creative blocks’ series when I’m experiencing my own block, and learn from how others move through them.
Topic = Maximum Creativity and Productivity
- What is my top priority, in terms of productivity? To “carve out more time for creative work.” What are the benefits of doing that? More will be created/produced. I will feel a regular sense of accomplishment. It will build my confidence. I can move on to new projects/elements. My skills will grow. I will be happier.
- What is my weakest link right now? Routines. I have a good daily schedule, I just need to be more committed to, and disciplined in, following it.
- I’m doing quite well with the systems I have in place to capture ideas and commitments – yay for that!
- Read ‘Time Management for Creative People’
- Beyond following the general daily schedule, beginning each day by creating a short list of action items will help me focus in on my top priorities, and have a sense of accomplishment as they are crossed off. I do this but don’t start fresh every day – that’s going to feel really good, I think.
- Get out and meet new people. Dialoguing/sharing with people and experiencing their productions is inspiring, and inspiration feeds creativity and productivity.
Topic = Career Goals/Life Vision
- I have always seen myself, Big Picture, Big Dream, as a creative entrepreneur. I have plenty of ideas and inspirations, the challenge has been deeply assessing them, prioritizing, making a do-able action plan, and Doing The Work, staying focused, confident, and committed. The good news is that I am currently meeting all of those challenges, with consciousness, openness, and as much grace as I can summon. I am a “creative entrepreneur in training.”
- Doing work for other people, as an employee or consultant, can be in harmony with working on my personal creative projects. I have successfully balanced the two and this is actually the healthiest approach for me now. The stability and structure, challenges and collaboration of outside work can be both supportive and inspiring to my personal work.
- The trick is doing great work that is interesting and really brings forth your true talents and gifts. I am learning that trick!
My favorite takeaway from this series:
Happiness + Contribution = Success
-Ask yourself ‘What work do I love doing the most?’ and ‘Where do I contribute the most value?’
-Focus your efforts on the overlap between the two.
Thanks again, Mark!