Not everything about innovation is complicated. I recently gave a creative problem solving workshop to a group of scientists who all worked for the same outfit. It was a lively session. In addition to learning structured creative problem solving (Osborn-Parnes-Basadur framework) we did some short bits of ideation around new business concepts. This was more as a sampler than it was a real session. It wasn’t the goal of the session to reinvent their business, nonetheless, in a short time there were some relevant business growth ideas with potential on the table. An executive with the company remarked after the session that “nobody ever comes to me” with new business ideas. Talking more with this man a reason why emerged:Read More..
I had a dream last night about self-expression. I dreamed about writing a blog post.
I wish I could recall exactly what I wrote in my dreams. The gist of the dream had to do with how pervasive a concept the lack of self-expression is in our lives — so much so that we usually ignore it. The elephant in the creativity and innovation room is a lack of full self-expression. The elephant in the dream — me — was trying to make itself known to an amorphous group in a meeting. I tried to speak but nobody heard my voice.
I blew that elephant trumpet and nobody heard.
I think the point of the dream was this: if you have no awareness of how you are being self-expressed you risk having it hamper your effectiveness. If you are not self-expressed you risk losing your creative voice.
You lose your creative voice, you lose a creative life.
Creativity and self-expression are tied together at the hip. Creative acts spring from the fire of self-expression. But it’s a delicately stoked fire. The ever-present litany of self-criticism, and, the criticism and expectations of others throw cold water on that fire of self-expression. Those negative voices stifle your voice, and queer your motivation to create.
A friend of mine recently had an amazing experience. I was certain he would write and speak about it (he’s a professional speaker). Yet, that’s now in doubt because so many others, with their own agenda’s, are shutting him down. They have advised him to remain mute. His own confidence, to this point, is not enough to over-ride the wave and as a result we, his audience, may never hear a very interesting and valuable story. If I could pull him aside I’d say to him “don’t let anyone take your voice, don’t let anyone squash your story. It’s your story!”
Sometimes you need to let people be responsible for themselves — and not you. Allowing others to control your self-expression changes the narrative of your life. Others often warn you of boogeyman in the bushes — and looking over your shoulder is no way to walk down the road of life. Not speaking up and telling your story is a sin. Expressing yourself and speaking your truth — on whatever topic — is where full self-expression starts. Shutting up and hoping that by not being noisy the boogeyman will stay away is living a life of fear.
Speak your truth, out loud. Those who would shout you down should be ignored. Sure, listen to advice, but if it’s stopping you from doing something creative, something positive for you, watch out. Advice is often about the comfort zone of others. Others often like the pigeon hole they’ve put you in and any attempt to go elsewhere is threatening to them.
That’s their problem. Do your thing. Whatever your preferred form of self-expression may be. I know it’s easier said than done, but folks, you’re not getting any younger.
Those of us living in the “free world” should be thankful that we have the right to self-expression in its many forms. Don’t take for granted your right to write, speak, draw, dance, doodle, paint, debate, discuss, and jam. There are societies in this world that will literally kill you for expressing yourself. Or imprison you. I’m proud that in the USA, for all our many faults, generally a person can shout that the king has no clothes, and can then continue life in all the normal ways. Proud also that an eccentric that hurts nobody is given the latitude to be themselves (this is a very good thing for me!)
Of course, speaking your truth is not an excuse to harm others, or put others in harms way. Self-expression is not about attacks or irresponsible rhetoric.
It’s about creating something.
It’s time to acknowledge the elephant of non-self-expression in the room, even if it’s only in your head.
Work each day to be fully self-expressed. Start today.