‘Everyone can be creative’ is the first line of Now Go Create’s manifesto and something friend and Founder Claire and I have long believed to be true. It seemed like this philosophy would be well and truly put to the test when last week I was asked to represent NGC in the US to deliver two sessions on creativity – a one day session for a global media group to 20 NYC media planners who were very used to operating inside constraints, under a lot of pressure and with a strongly linear approach to their work and the second session was a 3-hour main speaker engagement for the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) to 100 people – the Iowa chapter (which is in the Midwest of America).
I won’t lie, both of these scenarios were mentally daunting (even though I have been training for over 20 years) and I had plenty of thoughts such as: “ The US are more formal in their work processes, will they get this freeform approach? Will planners be able to go with the flow? How can this possibly work for 100 people (I usual work with groups of around 20 people), What if they don’t believe they can be creative and I can’t convince them? Are they more conservative in the mid-West – will all this be too wacky? ”
So how did it turn out? Well the sessions blew me away. To intro each session, I had brought with me a snowglobe as a metaphor that when we have a lot on our mind, we create mental stress and pressure in our thinking like we are shaking a snowglobe and that it’s hard to create when you have a lot of stressful thoughts already in your head, not leaving much room for inspiration to appear. You kind of need to set down the snowglobe of your busy mind and let your thoughts settle, to be in the moment and allow yourself to be spontaneous, stimulated and inspired by whatever is around you and that each of us have a river of inspiration flowing through us to tap into whenever our mind is calm. This is described as ‘theta state’ and various studies now show what a profound affect this has on our creativity.
I then asked them to travel hopefully and immerse themselves in an experience where they would actually create something there and then from the materials they were given. I saw them instantly become children and start playing, competing (in a good way) and having fun. In both of the sessions, people were laughing and enjoying themselves and all seemed for a moment at least, to have forgotten about their busy lives. As they settled in to enjoy the moment, I found enjoyment and relaxed too and I think that might have been the secret to success. By the end of both sessions, the nuggets of insights both groups shared about their own access to creativity only left me more certain that we all (now matter who we are or what we think about our creative potential) have the capacity to tap into a rich, endless supply of creativity in any moment, if we can allow ourselves to be present and play.
It is a fact, that before our differences of industry, sector, gender, culture, country, race, religion, personality type or any differentiating feature, we are human. And it is the human capacity to create from nothing that we all share. I witnessed people forgetting whatever was on their minds and just being in the moment and creating together. If I ever need to be reminded of it, I’ll go back to the moment when one of the participants at the PRSA conference shared what being creative felt like for them: Joy. Everyone is creative. If I had a hopeful faith in that before, now I know it for sure.
Written by Elizabeth Lovius