Being Mindfully Creative

Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of “you can’t” once and for all.

— Vincent Van Gogh

Are you afraid of a blank canvas? A blank page? A blank screen?

Never fear! Blank screens are more afraid of you than you are of them. To fill the screen with your ideas, you just have to know how to get started.

A lot of people think creativity is s gift, that it’s something you are born with. Nothing could be further from the truth! Creativity is the art of knowing where to start, and is a skill you have to practice everyday.

I have taught creativity to hundreds of students over the years, and always come back to one simple secret: inertia is the enemy of creativity.

In the article “The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the World Economic Forum predicts that creativity will go from being the tenth most important job skill in 2015 to being the third most important job skill by 2020. According to the article, “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).”

Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).

— World Economic Forum

As a result, workers in all fields will need to up their creative game in order to stay competitive.

Creativity, or creative thinking, is a skill many people don’t believe they have. Instead of a skill to be practiced, they believe it is a talent you are either born with (or not). Like art, when it comes to being creative, many people default to: “I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like.”

However, we need creative thinking to solve problems everyday—regardless of our job—and creativity is becoming increasingly important as tasks that do not require creativity are taken over by robots and artificial intelligence. Creative thinking is going to be critical to land and keep the jobs of the 21st century.

Simply stated, creativity is the skill of taking information from a variety, often disparate, sources and meld those ideas into new and novel ways of thinking about or solving a problem. Like any skill (whether it’s math, writing, or sports) some people will appear to be naturally better than others. Scratch the surface, however, and you will find that person has spent years perfecting and honing that skill.

Michael Jordan says about practicing:

You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.

That’s where applying mindfulness to creativity comes into the picture.

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while being aware of one’s own physical and emotion sensations without allowing them to become overwhelming. For creativity, mindfulness is increasingly being understood as a fundamental technique, allowing people to better observe and understand what is needed and what successful outcomes look like as a framework to develop creative solutions.  In my own teaching at Drexel University, I have applied mindfulness in the classroom with great results, allowing students to better open themselves to possibilities.

In the next few years, the need to train work-forces in creative problem solving will grow dramatically as machines begin to take over more and more jobs. Mindful Creativity will apply the practice of mindfulness to the understanding of creative practice allowing anyone open to the possibilities to improve their ability for creative thought.

For more details about mindful creativity, contact CranfordTeague to learn more about our presentations and workshops.

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