After running an Art Of Authentic Leadership workshop, one of the first things that happens I see is a renewed energy to get creative. I see eyes alight and a new level of energy. I see the tip of a creative iceberg that comes alight... Neurons fire in a new way, synaptic connections are ablaze, and there is a commitment to do “that thing” that we know we should be doing.
“Im going to push forward that new initiative”
“Im going to use those paints sitting in the attic.”
“Im going to get writing.”
Quite often what happens is that, after this initial blast of energy.. the excitement subsides, life carries on, a few years go by... then there is a another wake up call of some kind, and we realize AGAIN what it is we know we should be doing.
Is this sounding familiar?
Its all very well having a little creative blast to blow the cobwebs away... but what about day to day? Where is that little spark... that subtle energy that puts us in that special state of aliveness into our work and our lives? Are you aware of it now? Can you sense it below the layers of a busy mind? Maybe its clear and bright right now, and its putting the spring in your step. If so, then that is fabulous. Take a look around you and notice the effect it has on those you interact with today.
Pretty soon we are caught up in the grooves we have carved for ourselves. Our daily routines, expressed in our thoughts feelings and behaviors. Before you know it, that spark becomes a little dull ache.. awaiting expression, once again
Lets consider a slightly broader perspective for a moment. The world is growing and developing. Its constantly in a state of flux and change. Its a vast and hugely complex place, at once incredible in its profound diversity and beauty, and frightening in the number of multilayered challenges it faces.
This is our story as a species. We face profound problems, and we overcome them in new, creative ways. We evolve... and here we are!
Look back at where we have come from, at the extraordinary landscape of possibility, new knowledges and development... at all we have learned (sometimes through our repeated mistakes!) and its pretty amazing what we have achieved already.
We are living in incredible, exciting times. We have an extraordinary vista of possibility in front of us. A vast blank canvas of options, outcomes and results, all of which are yet to be created. Think what would happen if we took the sum total of what we know, and what we have learned... took real stock of it, then walked into today knowing we can create what we want to create.
What if you approached everyday as though it were a blank canvas?
The thing is, most of us have already complete out canvas before we even start painting.
What does that mean?
We have already established our thought patterns, what we are going to do, and where we are going to end up before we set foot into our day. We will probably repeat about 80-90% of what we did today, tomorrow.
As a result, a lot of us are “sleep painting” through the partially completed canvas of our lives. (Sleep painting is like sleep walking, but with a paint brush in your hand).
A quick reality check: If you carry on sleep painting for the next 5 years, you will have painted a mess, and not event be aware that you are painting a mess. In fact, you will be so unaware of it, that you will blame others, and society, anything other than you.. for the mess that you have created.
Look back over the past five years of your life. Have you ended up anywhere near where you thought you were going to be five years ago? Are you happy where you are now?
Tough questions to face, but face them we must.
Lets assume for a moment that you aren't entirely content with the sum total of your current reality. What can you do about it? What are the next steps? How can you make the next five years the most compelling, engaging, involved five years you have ever had?
Put simply, build your creative muscle. With consistent practise, and effort over time, you can have a more consistent, inspired, creative, daily experience.
Lets get practical. Here is a simple 3 step technique to integrate into your day that will help develop your creative muscles. Try it for 10 minutes a day for 5 days and see what benefits you experience. Many people report results such as:
- More effective decision making
- Greater focus and clarity even in busy, distracting environments
- A noticeably higher level of energy in approaching the tasks of the day
- Greater presence and awareness
- A deeper respect for colleagues, and an appreciation for the diversity of communication we face in the day
Sound like you could use some of that?
Well here it is:
- Be still
- Focus on what you want to create
- Create your day
- Be still
Its harder to be still than you might think. It take practise. Lots of practise, but as you develop this profundly powerful life skill you will experience greater centredness and integrity in your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviours
Take look at this picture:
Imagine you are figure on the bank of this river. Imagine that the river is the flow of your thoughts. You have several layers of thinking: Surface thoughts, day to day distracted ness, deeper, more creative thoughts... and at the deepest level, no thought... but a a profound sense of creative stillness.
The object of this exercise is simply, like the figure, observe your thoughts. Get a timer and set it for 5 minutes. Sit comfortably. Choose a word that represents to you opening to a higher or deeper place of being. An example could be “open” “love” or “peace” As your thoughts come down the mind stream just gently return to this single simple word, like an anchor in the depths of your being. Let the thoughts come and go through your mind. Do this as an act of focus, and when the time is just, just gently open your eyes.
- Focus on what you want to create
You have probably written a mission, vision or value statement. (If you haven't got one, write one!) If you are anything like most people, you probably haven't looked at it for a while.
Take one aspect of this statement, and imagine what it would be truly like to be that way. Imagine that this thing is already achieved to perfection. What do you experience as it is achieved, what are you thinking, saying and doing?
Spend 2 minutes replaying this experience.
- Create your day.
Holding onto the experience you have created... run through what you want to achieve today, your major opportunities, and tasks. Visualize the effect of bringing yourself in this new way to these tasks. Imagine them being completed with vigour and inspiration.
Are there any new approaches that can be taken? What can be done even better?
As a personal challenge, try this for 5 days.
What happens to your week? Your productivity? The quality of your day to day living?
What obstacles do you face?
Would love to hear your comments and thoughts!