There is no one like you on this planet. Let that sink in. You are unique, in how you think and exist in this world, and the way you embrace and use your creativity reflects that.
So, how can we express our uniqueness? Today, our creativity allows us to be playful, and narrate our own particular story in a world of chaos and information bombardment.
For millennia, there have been many ways that we have creatively taken the internal and voiced it – art, dance, storytelling, architecture and writing just to name a few.
On a recent episode of Lean In, I spoke with Kamau Abayomi. Kamau is the epitome of creative expression and has balanced himself among titles such as poet, musician, writer, curator, director, choreographer – the list goes on, trust me.
In our conversation, he gave some insight into how we can reveal our own unique self through creativity.
Isn’t it ironic that the most important part of creativity is discipline? When you’re learning, especially when it’s something new, you will come across a roadblock, that’s just an unfortunate fact.
Many of us will also have unfulfilled or untouched creative projects in tow, if you’re not committed to the process then you tend to be put in the “to do” pile before you’ve even started. So, adding a pinch of discipline into the mix can really keep your creativity flowing and expanding.
One creative trait that Kamau has completely mastered is that he shows up, every-single-day. “I spend a lot of time every day, I practice Qi Gong, and I spend a lot of time just not doing anything just allowing my mind to relax during the course of my day, as well as doing things that really stimulate my mind, as well as doing things that allow my mind to be really creative.”
If you create a space and time to engage in the creative things that need your attention on a daily basis, soon they will become almost like a ritual, and your natural schedule. Your creative horizons will grow, and it will steadily become easier to achieve your intended creative goals.
Know That You Will Fail
Failure is a notion that just doesn’t quite gel with today’s must-do-everything-perfectly societal view.
But know this, you won’t get everything right the first time, and you know what, that’s amazing. Even I go through the thought processes of “I’m not good enough, I don’t have anything to say, everyone has seen this before,” and have to remind myself that when you tap into that little voice in your head that says, “You know what, you’re going to fail anyway, so you may as well do it,” you allow yourself that chance to develop and grow in extraordinary ways.
In any creative endeavour, I think it’s fair to say that you must give yourself permission to fall flat. Think of it as searching for gold – sometimes you have to sift through mountains of dirt just to find a speck of gold.
Learn from your mistakes and that even training wheels are temporary. When you’re ready, they eventually come off, so keep trying. As long as you’re creating something, then you’re doing the work – whether that’s good or not at the start is irrelevant.
Respond, Don’t React
If you’re anything like me, there may be a particular, overwhelming narrative rattling its way around your head. Getting from my contracted state and back into the mindful position certainly takes some effort.
A great step towards finding and experiencing our own creativity is to understand the distinction between reacting versus responding. As the Greek Philosopher, Epictetus rightly said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
Reactions happen with little thought and occur quickly. Reactions are often rooted in our negative emotions.
Responding means, we give a situation time to breathe and approach it with more consciousness, calmness and thought.
Kamau combats reactionary moments through utilising meditation, “knowing how to relax the mind so it doesn’t pinball everywhere,” he explains. “Taking consistent moments to just relax and not be thinking about anything, or just to appreciate something that is pretty simple,” and all of this is so “we don’t get caught up in the mind, start believing every single thing that we think.”
Remember that life can be our art form so creating space where there is no internal clutter can give you the chance to freely express with authenticity and not have your reactionary emotions sitting at the forefront.
Just start something. Get your pen on paper, brush to canvas, fail and express your unexpressed energy. When you do, you never know what’s going to come out.