6 steps to access your inner creative genius

“The desire to create is one of the deepest urges of the human soul” Dieter Uchdorf

Generally there are no quick fixes in life. True growth and advancement in any area requires dedication, focus and the willingness to let go of whatever is holding us back in order to embrace where we want to go. Becoming highly creative is no exception, and is crucial for individuals to live happy, fulfilled and purposeful lives, as well as ensuring the future success of any business. In fact, to create is the most powerful thing we can do.

“The only unique contribution we can ever make in this world will be born of our creativity” Brene Brown

But, what if I’m not creative?

We are all creative, we cannot help it, we are human. The life we are living or the business we are running is a product of what we have created. Creativity can be applied to all aspects of how we lead our lives, yet we can create the same things over and over again or we can create truly innovative, valuable outputs that bring about positive change and deep personal satisfaction.

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” Albert Einstein

We all have our own unique contribution, our own way of perceiving and expressing, and if we do not express this, our mark on the world might perhaps never be seen. So, how can you find your inner creative genius?

Creativity as a Process

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results, the only thing it craves is the process” Elizabeth Gilbert

Creativity is a process rather than an ability or output. The Eureka moment was preceded by a long time of research, pondering and preparation. A masterpiece is not the first painting an artist paints. Just as in nature, when a seed grows to a shoot, then to form a bud and flower, certain conditions need to be in place before we can begin to create exciting works of art, ground breaking solutions or previously unthought-of opportunities.

6 Steps to access your inner creative genius

1. Choose to believe in your creativity: This is the first step — you cannot be creative unless you are willing to give yourself a chance and believe that you are creative, that you have your own unique expression, whatever that may be. For a moment, put aside of any scepticism and negative talk, likely due to past criticism. Give yourself permission to give it a go.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” Lao Tzu

2. Set the stage. So, what would you like to create? A new business idea, a clay sculpture, a poem, a blog? Set an intention and set aside a time, maybe one hour, in a space where you will not be interrupted. It doesn’t matter if it is on a park bench, in your bedroom or an artist’s studio. Have with you the materials you might need — pens, paper, clay, colours. Creativity requires discipline, so stick to it!

“Unless commitment is made there are only promises and hopes” P Drucker

3. Allow your mind to quieten. Once the intention is set, do not focus on the need for results. Dip into yourself, your breath, sensations in your body, awareness of your surroundings. At this point many people give up…check the text that just beeped, need a cup of tea, convince themselves this is a waste of time. We are creatures of habit, we avoid change and fear failure. When faced with a blank canvas we prefer to turn away. The challenge of coming up with something original and innovative, developing unique designs, or harder still beautiful works of art, can be too daunting. Stay with all that’s coming up and with the commitment to sit it through. Keep returning to awareness of your breath and your body.

Open up to the stillness, the not knowing. Just as when a seed is planted it needs to be left in stillness and darkness, so too do we need to let go of our need to know and to trust our own creative process. The intention is still there, and our unconscious mind is working on it. Give this step maybe 15–20 minutes.

“Empty your minds. Clear the clutter. Silence all the demands. And creativity will take you on a ride that will be more fulfilling, more valuable than any end reward you could ever imagine” Amy Jalapeno

4. Open up to natural curiosity and sense of play. For the next 20–30 minutes, allow any inspiration to bubble up, whether logical or not. The important thing here is to be playful. The are no errors. Let it be random, even chaotic, let it be stupid. Be inspired by a passing bird, or a distant sound. It is important to let go of any judgement or need to be right at this stage. Whilst not making sense on a conscious level our unconscious mind has an order beyond our rational mind that will bring awareness to things that seemingly have no logical connection. Let it take over, and get everything out….scribbling, doodling, colouring, copious writing, lists of words or ideas. The more experimental and playful the better. Try to be intuitive, writing, drawing, saying, moving in any way you feel. It is fun — if you really let go of any pressure to get it right.

“If you want creative workers give them enough time to play” John Cleese

5. Bear the fruits of your creativity. So this is the bit that we all want, the output — a vision for our business, a finished design. It is what we are paid for, how we judge success. With a myriad of ideas, sketches, designs, whether crazy or not, you can now bring in your discerning mind and pick the ones that stand out as being the most innovative and worthwhile. You can refine ideas to come to a few of the most relevant ones; cherry pick the best of what you have produced. You may feel proud, a sense of achievement or may be critical and want to do better. You can further develop and refine your work either now or at a later stage. It is important to put a timeline on this as perfectionism can take over, and often we need to come back with fresh eyes and continue the process.

“The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” Linus Pauling

6. Let your creation go! Now, this may seem counter-intuitive. How can letting go of a great idea or design make sense? Summer is followed by autumn, the season for letting go. This stage is crucial to the future of your creativity, and fulfilling your highest creative potential. Letting go means detaching yourself from what you have created. Just as a child does not belong to its parents, and we must let them grow into independent adults, it is important that what we create is allowed to be separate from our identity. Most of what we create doesn’t become a masterpiece or ground breaking design or product. At most it is a contribution to something bigger or a stepping stone to something greater. More often than not we are critical of what we have created, and fear criticism from others, and that gets turned into self-criticism, so we choose not to create again rather than feel hurt. If we take it personally, creativity can be an open invitation to feeling bad and so our full creative potential can never be reached. Of course we can be proud and feel a sense of achievement, and be paid well for what we create. But when we hold on to our creations as being an extension of ourselves, we do not allow flow and for the new to start again, we become attached to what happens to it and how people react to it. Letting go ensures we are constantly creative rather than stifled. The more we allow ourselves to create the better we get at it.

“Nothing is more creative than death, since it is the whole secret of life. It means that the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that ‘I’ cannot continue, and that nothing can be ultimately fixed. When a man knows this, he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting it go he finds it” Allan Watts

Each of these stages may take hours, days, weeks even years. An hour will give you a taste for what is possible. Becoming highly creative takes commitment, practice and a willingness to let go — of judgement, of old self-critical beliefs, of output — and an opening up to play and wonder. When we let go of fears and self-doubt to follow what inspires us and excites us then creativity becomes effortless and without realising it we fall into our highly creative selves.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” Maya Angelou

Sarah Samuel is founder of Potent Creatives, a business that supports organisations to be truly creative. Sarah has a background in business consulting and a passion for helping people unleash their creative potential. I’d be delighted to hear from you. sarah@potentcreatives.org