Nurture The Seed

My name is Pete Mosley. I coach creative people and write and speak about the business of creativity. In particular, I work with people to help them overcome the blocks and barriers that hold them back, so their creativity can flow and they can achieve success on their own terms — whatever those terms might be.

This post explores the ways in which our creative potential can be smothered by external events and the actions of others.

Metaphorically speaking, we all come into life with the seed of something significant within us. This seed of honest potential, if it gets light, nutrients and nurture allows us to grow tall, put down roots and become what we ought to be. This is our real self.

If the seed doesn’t get the right balance of light, nutrients and nurture it fails to thrive. We don’t grow straight and true in the way we ought to have done. We don’t put down the substantial roots that are required in order to fulfil ourselves.

It doesn’t take much — strong parental views perhaps, both positive and negative; over-protection or neglect, critical comments from significant adults or our siblings; having our natural talents dismissed in favour of other people’s career preferences maybe — to conspire to stunt this growth. Or we may have illnesses or critical events in play that throw us off course. I had two significant childhood illnesses — one that nearly killed me (or so I was told) and one that was recurring and painful over a number of years. All sorts of things can pull the rug out from under our feet.

We can be led away from our innate talents and abilities in one fell swoop (a parent telling us we are useless) or over a long period of time (when a chronic illness or pain saps the will to live). Sometimes it’s a combination of events and influences that conspire to set us off on the wrong foot.

In truth an awful lot of the worst criticism and misinformation often comes from people who would regard themselves as truly well meaning and having our best interests at heart. So we trust, we conform, or we fall into the path of least resistance. Or all of the above.

The trouble is, the faulty beliefs that are generated this way are what we become used to and our easy familiarity with them is hard to give up. This, after all, is the self we have become in order to survive.

In my work as a coach I often work with people who are struggling with a growing tension created by the knowledge that their real potential has not been fully realised and a growing realisation that the script they have been following was never really of their own making. They have been surviving with a version of themselves that is a far cry from their innate potential — had it been allowed to evolve freely.

No wonder then that as we mature and our self-knowledge increases we may feel a tugging towards something new and indefinable — a yearning for change. A strong frustration that things are not right — or indeed never have been right. This existential disarray bubbling under the surface plays havoc with sense of purpose, sense of direction and inner confidence to boot.

The sense of disarray feeds our behaviour:

We may not stand up for ourselves because we’ve been conditioned to rank other people’s priorities and opinions above our own.

We may become perfectionist — always on the lookout for the right answer, the right arrangement, the right response from others. Other’s standards and behaviour constantly fall short of our expectations.

We may reject compliments or worse still, read them as direct criticism.

We may constantly put things off. Nothing seems to fit or feel right, so we do nothing.

We may be unable to allow ourselves to take credit for our talents and achievements, instead thinking we will be found out, that we are somehow fraudulent.

We may struggle get out into our stretch zone — we may have been told things are beyond our capacity. (My dad, at the age of 12 or so, was told he should get a career standing outside a post office with his tongue out — so people could dampen their postage stamps on it prior to posting their letters). He left home, went to sea at 16, and rose through the ranks to Master Mariner.

We develop a mental filter, conditioned by past experience; that conditions the brain to look out for familiar signs and act accordingly. If we are used to conflict we will find conflict. If we are used to criticism, we’ll find that in what others say to us.

What does not change is our seed of honest potential. It’s still there.

That’s the quest — find what’s at the core of us, tease it out, give it the nutrient it needs. Regenerate.

Best wishes


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