Often we can get trapped by traditional stereotypes of what it means to be creative: being creative isn't merely about our physical output, like drawing or painting, rather, the process involves our thinking and how we imagine a solution to a problem. This month, I'm exploring how what we produce solves problems, how we see the world, and how others can help us reach our creative potential:
Do Schools Kill Creativity? A 2006 TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson, a British Author and International advisor on education in the arts, argues that creativity is as important as literacy, yet we're educating people out of their creative capacities. He believes that we need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.
One of my favourite points from Robinson captures our journey as entrepreneurs: "if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original. That's where our institutions and companies fail: we stigmatize mistakes and make people feel that mistakes are the worst things you can make."
He says, as a consequence of this teaching, "Highly-talented, brilliant and creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued." The notion is the same for entrepreneurism. Entrepreneurs come from all different backgrounds. Anyone can be an entrepreneur. The journey is not dependent on an academic background.
This is one of the most heartfelt threads I've read in a long time.
A Cape-town-based Paediatrician Alastair McAlpine asked some of his terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave their life meaning. He shared their responses, which highlight a main message for all of us: the small things in life makes us feel most alive, though they can easily go ignored: "Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them."
There are no better teachers of how to live life in the moment than children. Some of my favourite responses to his question include, 'Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn't even hurt!' to 'eating ice cream' and 'My granny is so kind to me. She always makes me smile.'
Beyond Words With Canadian Poet Rupi Kaur via University of Waterloo
I love local success stories, especially when they're initiated and led by young people. We have to constantly believe in young people and their capabilities, so they believe in their talents and potential.
Toronto-based Writer and Poet Rupi Kaur recently published The Sun And Her Flowers, her second book of poems. As a co-op student in the Arts program at University of Waterloo in 2015, she wrote, designed, and self-published her first book Milk And Honey, covering femininity, love, loss, trauma, and healing. The university created this short clip with Kaur, including interviews and readings with women who have been influenced by her words.
Kaur's story is an example of taking a small step to put your work out there. She had 20 Instagram followers when she began posting poems. About three years later in 2017, more than one million copies of her first book had been sold.
Everywhere I Look, a book of short stories by Helen Garner
Helen Garner is one of Australia's most iconic writers. Everywhere I Look spans 15 years of short stories that feature "unexpected life moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour."
My favourite part was reading Garner's diary notes: she shares her observances of people and notes from chats with strangers as she's riding the metro, sitting on a city bench, or walking down the street. She says that these are the moments that inspire most of her work.
It's the same for the work we do as entrepreneurs: we use so much of our critical brain power on any given day that it's important to get up and stand outside, look up at the sun, go for a walk, write something in our journal, and to clear our minds as we move on to a new task.
Where Does Creativity Come From With Author Elizabeth Gilbert via NPR
Most of us know Writer Elizabeth Gilbert for her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love.
In this Ted Radio Talk, she talks about the struggle she faced after her book to create the same success. People would say, "aren't you afraid you're going to write for the rest of your life and you're never again going to create a book that no one cares about?" Much like our work as entrepreneurs, we spend so many hours, days, and years trying to reach a certain level of success, that once we do, what happens next?
Gilbert challenges the questions she received by asking, "why? Is it rational or logical that anyone should be expected to be afraid of the work that they were put on this earth to do?" While Gilbert is a writer, her talk is relevant for those of us who feel self-doubt about our ability to achieve what we want. She rightly challenges the idea that creativity and suffering are inextricably linked--she says it's dangerous and she doesn't want to see it perpetuated.