Posted on Leave a comment

The ABCs of Creativity: Risk

Being creative means taking risks. When you’re doing something new, that no one’s ever done before, or that you haven’t done before, you’re taking a risk. It may be a small risk; no one will see you mess up a canvas or write a sentence incorrectly. Or it may be a big risk: taking on an assignment at work that could decided the fate of the company. There are a lot of different kinds of risk in between.

When you stood up for the first time, you were taking a risk. You might lose your balance and fall. Of course, your baby mind didn’t really think of it like that. When you fell down, you probably cried and were comforted by your parent(s) or guardian. Then you got up and tried it again. Then maybe you took the next step, literally, after standing. That probably resulted in falling down to.

As a baby, you were used to taking those risks. If you were in diapers, it didn’t hurt a lot. Even if it did hurt, you didn’t mind after a while. You saw everyone else standing and walking, and you wanted to get there, too.

You probably continued to take risks growing up. Raising your hand to answer a question was a risk: if you got it right, kids might think you’re a know-it-all; get it wrong and the teacher might think you’re dumb. You probably learned that answering the question wasn’t worth it.

As an adult, if you suggested something new at work, you were probably met with objections and derision. That risk was bad enough. In some places, a creative person is seen as a threat.

But people are meant to be creative. If you want to become, if you want a happier overall life, if you want to make something, you’ve got to take the risk. You may fail, you may make mistakes, but if you do it right, you’ll have fun and learn more about who you are.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

Instinctive Archery and What It Can Teach about Creativity

Instincive archery Mediterranean draw

When I was learning instinctual archery, it seemed pretty straight forward. Use the correct form and the arrow goes where you look. So, I worked on it:

  • Feet shoulder width apart.
  • Knees slightly bent.
  • Look at your target; both eyes open.
  • Raise your arms; bow slightly canted.
  • Three fingers on the string; index finger above, middle and ring finger below.
  • Pull the string using your back muscles by bring the shoulder blades together; bring the middle finger to the corner of the mouth.
  • Release.

“You dropped your elbow.”

“What?”

“You dropped your elbow. Everything should be in a straight line.”

Again, the elbow dropped. Again and again and again and again. I took video (and posted it on my YouTube channel), so I could see what I was doing. I practiced in the mirror at home without a bow. I practiced on the range. I practiced concentrating on the elbow, then something else would go wrong. My arrows generally made it to the target, some hit the bull’s eye. But it took me a long time to get my form correct, even with Armin Hirmer and Andy Hillsden at Malta Archery coaching me and reminding me about smaller form issues.

It took a lot of practice and patience, and at some point, I learned from my failure and got better at archery. Creativity takes practice, patience and the willingness to continue even after mistakes and failures.

Trust Yourself

As an instructor, I found that most people were afraid to trust that their minds and eyes will work together to get the arrow on the target. There’s no aiming. You simply point and trust yourself that your body knows where to send the arrow. Most people wanted to look at the arrow, but you don’t look at a ball when you throw it. You look at the target.

With instinctual archery, you have trust yourself. You have to trust that your body will do what you want it to do. In creativity, you have to trust your judgement. You have to understand that you know what you want to accomplish and experimenting will get you there as long as you have knowledge in the field or domain. You are creative.

Keep Learning

Sometimes, beginners would come in and just want to shoot the bow the way they wanted to shoot the bow. They saw it on TV or had made their own bow when they were much younger. Some thought the bows were toys, so they didn’t need instruction. Whatever the reason, they didn’t want to learn how to shoot the bow with any form.

People who shot guns also would not want to learn how to shoot a bow. They thought their gun shooting skills would transfer to the bow. Either they shot too high or didn’t get the power out of the bow they should have.

Olympic style archers don’t want to learn instinctive archery. They would come in and shoot in the Olympic style even though the equipment wasn’t made for it. Bows would crash to the floor. Even good archers would miss one out of three arrows. Some were stubborn; some didn’t want to ruin their form.

Instinctive archers using the Mediterranean draw wouldn’t want to learn thumb draw, even when the bow was clearly made for thumb draw. Getting a full pull out of one of these bows required more pull. Instead, the archer was content with getting half as much power and beauty as he or she could have out of the bow. Thumb draw hurts when your thumb isn’t used to it.

The people who enjoyed archery the most were the ones who went in for learning everything and it made them better archers because they could adapt their style to their equipment. That’s true of creativity, too. You need to use the tools you have, and many of your tools will come from what you have learned before. Keep learning and get the most out of your creativity.

For more on creativity, order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on Leave a comment

ABCs of Creativity: Mistakes

shoes basketball nike lebron

If you’re doing something that you know how to do, you might make a mistake. It doesn’t matter what the task is or how many times you’ve done it before, being human means that you make mistakes sometimes, even when you’re doing something you’re good at. Professional basketball player J.R. Smith dribbled out a clock when his team needed a score in the playoffs; he’s on a team with Lebron James. Smith made the mistake in spite of being an NBA player who was probably told by his teammates what was going to happen.

Creativity means you’re doing something new to you. If a pro player can make a mistake when he is doing something he’s been doing for years, imagine how much more likely it is that you’ll make a mistake doing something new. It’s going to happen. Accept it and then do something that will set you apart from others, learn from your mistake.

In creativity, mistakes are the stepping stones to better products, better hypotheses, and better results. As long as the mistake leads to learning something, it’s okay. You don’t have to make the same mistake twice, you can make new ones every day! Go try something new, and make your mistake so you can learn.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate: Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Pre-order “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on Leave a comment

One episode in: ‘Mars’ Proves We’re Not Ready to Be a Two Planet Species

Mars Rover

National Geographic’s “Mars” interchanges documentary footage with interviews from 2016 of the people trying to get there and scientists and authors who theorize what it’ll take with a science fiction story set in 2033 about the first manned mission to Mars. It’s a creative and ambitious attempt to get people interested in space travel again.

In the present day, the series focuses on SpaceX’s rocket building and failures. Interviews with Elon Musk are cut with scenes of rockets exploding and the SpaceX team reacting to the failures. Neil de Grasse Tyson has a small segment, and the author of “How We’ll Live on Mars” Stephen Petranek also makes his suggestions for successful colonization.

‘Mars’ celebrates humanity’s reaching for the stars while exposing everything that people will face, including the unknown, as they head to Mars. Humans are still in the infant stage of rocket control and production, even though rockets for transportation to space have been around since 1957’s Sputnik.

Sputnik, instead of inspiring an international cooperative effort, sparked a space race that sent Americans to the moon. It’s the international collective in “Mars” that’s still missing in real life. It exists in “Mars,” but in reality, the collective has yet to emerge. So, humanity is relying on Elon Musk, his SpaceX program and his ability to build a viable company in a capitalist society to send people to Mars.

SpaceX has already faced numerous failures, which is a part of the creative and innovation processes. They are attempting to do something no one has ever done. The failures and mistakes should be celebrated and learned from. They are the stepping stones to Mars. But what happens if SpaceX fails as a company? Who gets those records? Who will learn from the failures? If they stay with Musk or get lost in the dissolution of the company, those mistakes and failures are for nothing.

The 2033 depictions are entertaining, but given what we know now, 2033 is too ambitious of a deadline. With only 14 years left to get there and no infrastructure in place, the deadline will need to be pushed further into the future. At least, if we can judge by one episode.

Going to Mars is going to take more resources than one man has. Musk has the right intentions. He has the goal. The real question is how long his fortune can hold out while he pays people for failure after failure, and how much tie he’s willing to wait for success. At age 47, he’s got another 30 years or so left assuming an average life span. It may not be enough to get to the red planet. And the last unknown for Musk could doom SpaceX long before it gets to the end of its proposed road.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Seven Secrets of Creativity

Penguinate creativity book

You are innately creative. It’s in your genetic coding. Schools, systems, jobs and fear may have burned a lot of your creative ability out of you, but you can get it back. Here are the seven secrets of creativity:

  1. Exercise Imagination: Gene Wilder sang it best – “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” Stop the video games, shut off the TV, get rid of Netflix. To exercise your imagination, you need to create the story yourself. Read a book. Have a tea party with dolls. Avoid the hot lava monster. If you have children, play with them and let them be right. Study how they use their imagination. Add to the play with “Yes and…” Join an improv comedy troop. Free paint, free write, keep an imagination journal. Ignore your internal editor; Elly Brown says to “Fire that guy.”
  2. Play: Go outside and be a kid again. Play on the playground. Find an old game you loved and a couple of friends to join you. Make a tough job into a game. Have a playful attitude. Make all the dad jokes. See how you can manipulate word through puns and imagery.
  3. Think Deeply: Learn about a new subject. Don’t just spend 20 minutes researching it on the Internet. Go deeper. Examine a TV episode or movie. Think all the thoughts about it. Start with whether or not you enjoyed it. Why? What was the director trying to say? Was there a star who stood out? Was there a quote that touched you as truth? Was there a fact that you thought wasn’t right? What surprised you? Research those things.
  4. Make Connections: Creativity happens at the intersection. Steve Jobs said that creative people weren’t smarter, they just had more dots to connect. Each of those dots was an experience that the person had and thought deeply about. Combine things that may seem absurd and see what you can make from them.
  5. Embrace Failure: When you’re doing something new, you will fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not doing something that is creative. It’s okay to fail. Embrace it and learn from it.
  6. Learn from Mistakes: A mistake can be a valuable lesson if you learn from it. Don’t make the same mistake twice, make new ones every day. If you make a mistake, laugh at it and move on, or figure out how to profit from the mistake.
  7. Take Action: You might be the most creative person in the world, but until you make something it won’t matter. Take action on your ideas and move forward with it. The world needs you and your positive creativity. Paint, write, sing, do science, whatever it is that helps you be more creative.

Creativity is the essence of humanity. It is tempered by fear and the need for safety. Through of the shackles that fear provides and create. The more you do, the easier it’ll get. If you need a creative mascot, get one of our handmade penguins!

Want to learn more about creativity and improve your creative process? Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Try “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Or just check out these links to articles on my blog.