Theme 4: Confidence & Creativity

Flex your creative muscles and approach your escape like an artist.

“Every child is an artist, the trick is to stay one as you grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

Why is this theme important?

Creativity isn’t just for artists, visionaries or people in so-called creative fields. We are all inherently creative; sometimes we just need help tapping back into it. Our escape depends on us thinking creatively and approaching our next steps as an artist would.

Core Ideas

First things first: You are creative.

It’s possible no one has ever told you that you are creative. It’s possible you’ve even been told the opposite: “You are not creative.”

This is a myth we must bust early and often. We are all inherently creative, sometimes we just need help tapping back into our creative current. According to Sir Ken Robinson, “Creativity is as important as literacy,” and the Kelley brothers of the famous IDEO design firm agree, “Creativity is something you practice, not just a talent you’re born with.”

Our society has it ingrained into us that creativity belongs to “creative people,” who seem to live in a different realm than the rest of us. They’re the painters, the novelists, the virtuosos and the zany artistic types. This is a misplaced belief. Our inherent creativity has just been zapped out of us. We must set ourselves on a mission to get it back.

Even if we’re not currently on an artistic path (most of us probably won’t be), there is still much we can take from the creative and artistic world and apply to our own situation. In fact, our success depends on us looking at our escape creatively and acting more like an artist.

Act like an artist (Part 1): Get to know resistance.

In his book, ‘The War of Art’, Steven Pressfield puts a name to the frictional force that weigh on artists whenever they’re trying to create their art. He calls it “The Resistance.”

“Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

Sometimes Resistance manifests as people (family, friends, foes), situations (disasters, deadlines, disease), or internal turmoil (self-doubt, perfectionism, lack of confidence). Resistance loves to encourage us to move away from things that matter deeply to us when the path gets difficult and demanding.

If you look closely, Resistance is the same boulder that lives between you and your own escape. It’s the thing encouraging us to make a move in the face of discomfort and the unknown.

Acknowledging that this force exists and calling it out by name is an empowering first step – moving forward in spite of Resistance is the next.

Act like an artist (Part 2): Don’t wait for inspiration.

When the author William Faulkner was asked whether he writes on inspiration or on a schedule, Faulkner replied: “Well, of course I write on inspiration. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at a quarter past nine.”

It’s tempting to think that the greatest artists, entrepreneurs and radical career-changers are always feeling confident and oozing with inspiration. The truth is that they don’t wait for inspiration to come before they get to work on their art, their business or their career change. They do a little bit, everyday, even when they’re not inspired.

Waiting for inspiration to strike before starting is a surefire way to never start. Showing up and working on your escape, even when you’re not feeling inspired (especially when you’re not feeling inspired) is the quickest route to becoming inspired.

Act like an artist (Part 3): Exercise your idea muscle.

Author and entrepreneur James Altucher has a simple daily practice. Every day he picks a topic and generates 10 new ideas around that topic. The quality of the ideas matter little (most will probably be rubbish) and many he may not execute on or do anything with. That’s beside the point.

The point is to make his brain sweat and work out what he calls his ‘idea muscle.’ Like any muscle, your ‘idea muscle’ is one that can atrophy over time.

It’s easy to think you’re not creative or that you don’t have any new ideas or you’ve run out of fresh ideas for escape routes. Try exercising your ‘idea muscle’ to engage and strengthen it.

Act like an artist (Part 4): Do it daily.

Excellent artists were not great when they first started. They became great first by starting and then by continually doing. Like in Faulkner’s daily writing discipline or Altucher’s 10 ideas a day, excellence comes from showing up everyday and working at it.

Great escapes do not happen all at once. They happen through little daily actions. Like an artist chisels away at their craft, so too must we chisel away at our escape. Think little steps. Think repeated motions. Make a habit of doing the work.

Heed the ancient words of Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Do it often. Do it daily.

Act like an artist (Part 5): Engage in play.

Creative consultant Alastair Creamer led a past Escape Tribe through a creativity workshop called ‘Living Landscape.’ The exercise was simple, but powerful: express your qualities, experiences, and how you feel right now in your career change journey. Not through writing, speaking and thinking — but by drawing it.

It was a sight to see. A group of 40-odd adults scattered around the floor like children, heads down and concentrating with colored pencils and markers, drawing pictures of maps, mountains, trees and complex landscapes. It was the first time many had engaged in “art” in years. It was a rare opportunity to simply play.

When it feels like the weight of the world is on top of you and that everything is seriously out of control, remember to play. The best ideas, breakthroughs, and opportunities don’t come from strangling them with seriousness. They come about when we play.

Letting ourselves go wild and have fun is a luxury we rarely allow. When in doubt grab a marker, grab a ball, grab a friend, and just play.

“Play is a state of mind – it’s a way to approach the world. Whether your world is a frightening prison or a loving playground is entirely up to you.”  –Charile Hoehn, author of Play It Away

Your Objectives
  • Increase your confidence by reconnecting with your creativity.
  • Shrink big themes and scary objectives into smaller creative projects.
  • Apply resilience and positive mindset techniques to your creative experiments.
  • Explore the links between creativity, generosity and building a career on your terms.
Useful Resources

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