Sometimes I get really bored.
It’s not that I don’t have a TON of things to do: working full time, finishing my MBA, exercising my puppy, attending meetings and volunteering. Trying to pay attention to all of my loved ones. Dishes. Laundry. Sleeping. But I can find myself in a rut, trapped in endless days of running and routine. Boring.
My friend Melanie once told me it’s my restless Gemini nature, that we’re prone to boredom and need constant intellectual stimulation. That was after I complained of being so bored one Saturday that I put together a puzzle. (Yes, it was that bad.) And I was living in NYC of all places, home of continual sensory overload.
I do love learning new things, having thought-provoking conversations over wine or coffee, being in school (though not the homework), reading interesting articles on the web. But sometimes I’m just so exhausted by my own schedule that I’m only capable of laying on the couch staring blankly at a television for 12 hours. It’s then that I realize I need a jump-start, and soon.
You’ve heard me refer before to the Creative Connections class I took last summer. We focused on creativity in a business context, since a recent IBM survey found that CEOs believe creativity is the most important leadership trait. According to Daniel Pink, creativity and viewing the world through the right side of our brains is what will set us apart and drive success and innovation in the future business world. My professor said that everyone is creative; you just may not have developed it or be in touch with it.
“A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
The purpose of the class was to move us out of our comfort zones and encourage us to try new things that fed our souls with creativity and stimulated that right-brained thinking. We read all kinds of books and were challenged by visiting speakers or our own conversations every week. We journaled, wrote stories, discussed design, drew, painted, took photographs, worked wood, watched documentaries, danced and even played musical instruments. At the end of the semester, we all presented our class projects, which is how this story came to be.
I don’t think I’m a particularly “creative” person, definitely not “artistic” or “imaginative.” But being in that class motivated me to start this blog, since I realized that I write every day but never for fun or just because. It made me redefine the idea of “being creative” — it’s really about doing something different that inspires, awakens, challenges and refreshes you. Now I see where creativity is missing from my life and how easy it is to let that part of you wilt and die — you really have to make time for developing it.
If you’re interested, I highly recommend reading Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” and I’ve heard good things about his second book, “Drive.” These are a few other books my professor suggested to help generate or keep alive your creative spark:
- “Flow” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- “The Creative Spirit” – Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman and Michael Ray (PBS series companion book — out of print, so may be a challenge to find)
- “Bird by Bird” – Anne Lamott (excellent, and thought-provoking!)
- “Creativity, Inc.: Building an Inventive Organization” – Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman
- “Brain Rules” – John Medina
- “Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happen” – Alan G. Robinson and Sam Stern
- “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life” – Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter
- “If You Want to Write” – Brenda Ueland (but it’s about any creative act, not just writing)
Even though that class is over, most of us are still in touch and are continuing to feed our creative spirits. Angie and I made a partially successful attempt at glass fusing back in September. A new business venture is also in the works, and a few of us reunited recently for a painting seminar. That’s right … still life painting. I had never touched brush to canvas in my life, but we spent about two hours being guided through copying an existing art piece. Surprisingly, it was challenging but fun. I could nitpick everything that annoys me about mine, the placement of my fruit or the shape of my wine bottle, but that isn’t really the point. It’s just amazing what you can accomplish when you let it all go (read: perfectionism) and let it flow.
I really think we’d all be happier, more balanced people if we took the time to do something fun and creative every once in awhile. I know I am. Plus, we’d probably make the world a more beautiful, interesting place while we’re at it.