Untagling Creativity

Creativity and the Tangle

AKA – The Hairball!

What do hairballs and creativity have in common? Well, you’re about to find out. Or maybe you won’t. Who knows!

But the bigger question should be What the heck??

Has Virginia gone mad and finally lost her marbles? Well, the evidence does support that, but moving on…

First, I want to talk to you about YOUR creative genius! Yes – Your genius – and don’t tell me you don’t have any! I know for sure that you do.

You see, we were all born creative geniuses! In Creatively-U, I refer to a study that proves it! You see, 98% of all children before age 5 score at the genius level of creativity. The same study showed that, by the time those kids reached age 15, only 12% scored that high. By the time they reached adulthood, only 2% scored at the genius level.

But, where did it go?

It’s in there somewhere, inside the tangle. We just have to figure out how to untangle it and dust off those spider webs!

If you’re worried that you don’t have what it takes to be a creative genius, stick with me here! You are, and always have been, genius enough!

So – Hairballs

As any of my long-time followers know, I love to R-E-A-D! I spent many years as a “corporate” creative director and had to stay “tuned in” so I could help my teams remain creative.

Many of my favorite authors are creatives themselves. Some write from the corporate creative perspective and some from a personal artistic perspective.

What really lights me up is when I’m reading a book from a favorite author, and said author mentions one of his favorite books, – – – and it’s also on MY shelf! Awesome-sauce!

I’m always prompted to go back and read it again to refresh my memory on all the goodies within!

This happened recently and it was just a big ole reminder of this WHOLE concept! Thank you, Todd Henry, for reminding me of the genius that is Gordon MacKenzie! (Not the baseball Gordon MacKenzie)

Gordon MacKenzie was an artist and cartoonist who was employed at Hallmark Cards for several decades. After working for Hallmark, he started giving workshops aimed at preserving creativity in the corporate world. His took his workshop content and wrote his book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.”

With chapter names like “Pink Buddha,” “High-Tech Peaches,” and “The Giant Hairball,” it is a delightful book chock full of ideas for keeping your creative genius alive. Sure, it’s mainly about dealing with creative repression at the corporate level (the hairball!). But it’s a heckuva lot easier to train ourselves than it is to retrain a giant corporate culture!

The “hairball” is the tangle of overthinking and nonsense where “ghosts of past successes (and failures) override original thinking.” In this sense, to choke on a hairball is to avoid creative ideas because, well, by nature they are new and untried. Frightened that we might try and fail, we don’t do anything at all.

The 8 Word Chapter

One of my favorite chapters in the book is also the shortest chapter in recorded history, I think!

It says this, and only this: “Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.”

That’s it!

Nothing else. Beginning and end of the chapter.

The takeaway is this – How many times do we think we can’t create because we aren’t good enough, don’t have the “credentials,” didn’t go to some fancy art school, or might be “self-taught” at our craft? How many times do we wait for someone else to tell us that our work is “good enough”…that WE are good enough to try?

Had the Wright brothers waited for someone to give them permission, or certification, to try powered flight, we might still be stuck on the ground.

Are you waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder and give you some sort of official approval?

Wait no further

Here’s my challenge to you.

I want you to dig around and find that timid creative genius. You know the one. It’s that little thing inside you that you tucked away when you were leaving childhood and trying to become a cool teenager. You’ll probably find a half-melted box of crayons and some dried-up Play-Doh in there too. But remember as a child, you were a creative genius. I have the stats to prove it!

What did you love doing as a child? It may not be especially relevant today, but I’ll bet you remember doing all kinds of fun things without thinking “am I good enough.” You just did it! And I’ll bet you can’t even remember if it worked well or not. That’s because you didn’t care! You did it for the fun of it!

Make a list of things you want to try and then go for it. Don’t wait for permission.

Cough it up already!

And while you’re at it, let’s try to get rid of the tangled hairball you’re choking on. The one that says: No, that idea isn’t good enough. No, you don’t have the talent for that project. No, you aren’t qualified to try painting. Who do you think you are?

I’m a genius, Damn it! That’s WHO!

Here’s how this one works: You come up with the idea and then the “committee” in your head shoots it down. “They” come up with all kinds of reasons why you shouldn’t try. It’s never been done that way before. It’s already been done that way. I’ve never heard of it so it must not be important. Too big of a risk. Too mundane, not risky enough.

You get the idea.

That’s the tangle and we really need to untie it for good! You are a committee of one so there really isn’t any excuse for a bureaucratic hairball anymore! Let go of that mass of made-up rules, systems, and expectations based on the past. The very nature of creativity is to try the untried, or (cue Sinatra) do it your way!

As Todd Henry says in his book Daily Creative, “Don’t wait for permission to act on your idea. No one is going to give you a license to be creative.” It’s up to you!

Like the Wright brothers, you don’t need anyone to give you permission to create. But if you still feel a need for that authority to grant permission, here it is:

As an adult, you can now choose to become that authority and grant yourself permission to create.

And If THAT still doesn’t work – By the power vested in me, your blog post writer, I grant you permission to create. (ya know – for what it’s worth!)

So, have you found your genius?

Go on the hunt and share your progress with us. And maybe try letting go of “normal” and try for “original.” And if you really want to learn how it’s done from the master himself, grab Gordon’s book HERE.

Join me LIVE on my Facebook page, Virginia Leigh Studio, at 3:00 pm Central every Wednesday and we’ll chat about this. I’d love to hear from you.

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