As most of you know, I’m currently on a sabbatical, wandering the world, working on me, and writing the sequel to Risky Is the New Safe. It’s been a remarkable journey thus far, and an extraordinary stimulus for my creative energy. So I thought the theme of creativity and how you cultivate it would be a good topic to send you a postcard about.
Here are my best tips for nurturing and releasing your creative genius. (And yes, you do possess creative genius. Everyone does.) Please share any additional insights or tips you have on to nurture creativity in the comments section.
To really unleash your creative genius, you have to be drawing upon it for a worthy effort. Nothing dumbs down and dampens creativity like wasting it in the pursuit of mediocrity. Attempt epic things that are so intoxicating they pull you toward them.
Keep a Journal
Journaling can really stoke your creative muse. It does so because it keeps you alone with your thoughts. This type of mental seclusion and introspection is always good for creation.
Expose Yourself to Genius
Read a Harry Potter book, study the way Aaron Sorkin crafts dialogue, or Bill Simmons writes about sports. One of the reasons I conduct so many Mastermind sessions and leadership retreats in Las Vegas is so I can take the participants to see a performance from Cirque du Soleil. The lighting, costumes, music, staging and performances are such artistic genius – no one can be exposed to them without having their own genius inspired.
Change Your Thought Patterns
The average person repeats thousands of the same thoughts, day after day. Research has shown that these actually follow the same pattern in your brain. Switch the hand you wear your watch on, text with your non-dominant hand, or drive a different way home from work. You’ll create new neural patterns in your brain.
Get Out of Bed Earlier
On this sabbatical I can wake up anytime I want. Yet most days I’m up at 5 am. There is something inherently spiritual about the early morning hours. Most of the world is asleep and it’s a great time for reading, writing, meditating, and other activities that nourish your creative genius.
Fail a Lot More Often
The reason more people don’t have greater success is because they live in fear of failure. But successful people fail all the time. We fail our way to success.
Most people think the opposite of success is failure, but that’s simply not the case. The opposite of success is mediocrity. (And mediocrity is a sin.) Failure is simply part of the success process. It teaches you lessons, develops your character, and allows you to modify your approach to find the right way to reach greatness.
Read the Fearsome Foursome of Creative Brilliance Books
There are four books that are breathtaking in the creative energy they offer you. Three by Steven Pressfield, and another from Seth Godin. Every musician, writer, dancer, sculptor and especially entrepreneur should read them. They are, The War of Art, Turning Pro, and Do the Work, by Pressfield, and The Icarus Deception by Seth. Hopefully you’ve already read all of these great works. Read them again. In order. In one weekend. It will create an orgy of creative stimulation that will leave you fired up and breathless to get back to your own artistic endeavors.
There may be no better way to innovate, think creatively or brainstorm exciting new possibilities than spending time in quiet reflection. And in today’s hectic world, you probably need to schedule that time. Every week make it a point to block off some time just for thinking. Really.
Play the “What If” Game
Bend reality and create new rules to think by. Frame the discussion with premises such as, “Okay we know that’s impossible, but if it was possible – how could it be done? How would we do it if we built it from scratch? How would it work if there was no gravity, or it was underwater, or in outer space?”
Go Back to School
Figuratively or literally. The sabbatical has been a wonderful opportunity for me to work on me. Some days I read three books, others I watch 15 TED videos. But even without going on a sabbatical, you can always schedule time for self-development. My practice is to always schedule at least two events a year where I am not a presenter, but attend only as a student. Find some seminars, workshops, or conventions that will challenge your thinking and help you develop new skills.
Hang Out with Hobos, Misfits and Wandering Minstrels
Okay I’m being poetic here, but the point is to don’t just hang out with people like you who do the same thing you do. Mix it up with others who think and act differently than you do. It will make you think in new and different ways.
Have at Least One Person Who Will Call You on Your Stuff
Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse were creative geniuses. Charlie Sheen is too. But even geniuses need someone who can tell them when they are off the rails. You need a couple people in your life who love you, tell you the truth, and call you on your stuff. Make sure these are people who really want the best for you, and aren’t damping you down out of jealousy or limiting beliefs.
Sometimes your work is ahead of its time. Sometimes it’s so brilliant others will have difficulty getting it. And sometimes it’s just shit. Have people in your life who are qualified to know the difference and love you enough to tell you the truth.
I hope you find these postcards valuable. They require a lot of thought and effort and are meant to show you the passion I have for your prosperity. So if you find them helpful, all I ask is that you share them. And of course join the discussion and share your own thoughts on the subject.
I’m looking forward to seeing you – somewhere along the journey!