I mentor people about creativity, specifically about learning to identify and relate to their creative selves, to trust their imagination and other creative cognitions or qualities, and to develop a creative process that works with the conditions under which they have to live their lives.
When I talk with my (wonderful) clients I often like to ask:
‘As a creative person, what are your strengths?’
It has often struck me that people find this question hard to answer, sometimes out of shyness or a lack of confidence but sometimes because they have never really thought about it. I get the impression that they simply have no framework or vocabulary to apply to this vital part of their personality.
Our society distrusts creative people. As evidence, see how often artists are decried and denounced as being wankers and airheads, and how willing politicians are to cut arts funding as a waste of public money. Our society also makes very little room for creativity – the way the organisations we work in are historically structured and enculturated to mitigate against the risky, messy, experimental nature of creative work, often in the interest of making us all conform to standardised norms of professional activity.
So, as someone keenly interested in how people experience their individual sense of creativity, and whether they can manifest it somehow, I am interested in and horrified at how our society leeches the confidence, time, and energy for people to explore their creative selves and how those selves might find expression.
Creativity is a human quality; we are an innately creative species. You can’t be human and not be creative. As universally shared as this aspect of our humanity is, the really lovely thing is that creativity does not manifest in the same way in any of us. When we talk about ‘creativity’ we are talking about a large range of qualities, talents, instincts, and skills that are honed or nourished (or neglected or denied) by life and work experiences, including upbringing, education and training, paid and unpaid work, and the attitudes of the other humans we share our lives with.
We are all walking around as these richly complex and abundantly fascinating sentient bundles of creativity but so many of us do not get the chance to explore or celebrate this. Too many people, when tasked with focusing on this part of their inner landscape, appear to be disorientated.
As a mentor, I wanted to help my clients identify and express this part of themselves. As a counterbalance to the negative internal commentary that many people have running in their heads about their creativity, I put together some exercises that I thought might help people shift their thinking. I wanted to give people an ‘in’ when it came to exploring a part of their personality that may not have been fully appreciated, and I wanted to support people in being able to relate to this aspect of themselves playfully, imaginatively, and lovingly.
Although I started out devising these exercises as simple conversational prompts for me to use in mentoring dialogues or workshops, I decided to write them down and share them. The result is Relate: A resource for connecting to your creative self.
I am proud to announce to launch of Relate. I hope that it can be a support for people exploring there creativity. You can buy it here.