Sunday Thoughts (03/08/15) – Master the Dance of Creativity

Ok, I’m realizing that procrastination has been masking itself as a desire to get this blog post “just right.” Normally, I believe in launching just before you feel totally ready, because that’s likely to be your best work. But I think this time I’ve gotten caught up in fear disguised as perfectionism.

Sure, tweaks later on always improve things but over-editing can happen as well. We’ve all heard that it really pays in the end to “go with your gut,” because it’s true.

Part of my motivation is joining this challenge of Live Your Legend.  Check it out. If you’ve been putting off sharing your voice and joining the online conversation, then maybe it’s time to take your own first steps into a larger universe!

Well, here goes nothing..

Recently, I joined a Google Hangout to discuss how we want to have more creativity in our lives. Whether your work is already considered creative like graphic design or freelance content marketing, we still want more freedom to work on our own creative projects. (These can be for personal, business or some combination of both, of course.)

In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (affiliate link – thanks for your support!) the Heath brothers start with the analogy set out in The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt which points out how our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider.

Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be in charge.
But their control is shaky at best, because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Let’s face it. Anytime a six-ton Elephant and its Rider disagree about which direction to
go, the Rider is going to lose.

creativity, success

Unless we master dance between Elephant and Rider..

creativity, success, entrepreneur

the Rider is at the Mercy of the Elephant!


We’ve all given up on new year’s resolutions – year after year. In fact, the road to hell is really paved with ANALYZE THINK CHANGE.

Instead choose SEEFEELCHANGE.

In short, using the Heath brothers’ approach to bring more creativity into our lives, we have to:

  • Direct the Rider
  • Motivate the Elephant
  • Shape the Path

Direct the Rider

1. Follow the Bright Spots

As the Heath brothers tell us: “Investigate what’s working and clone it.”

We all want to be more creative, but don’t feel like we have time for our personal creative projects.

What are you currently doing where you feel creative? When do you feel more creative? Who do you feel creative around?

Are there places or spaces that feel inspiring? How can you get more of this without
feeling guilty? ..then how can you take what appears to be a negative and turn this around?

Maybe you feel like your work is uninspiring. How can you find ways to do it more
creatively? or more efficiently so that you get to a creative task?

2. Script the Critical Moves

“Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behavior.” Saying “Be creative!” – is about as useful as “drive safe!”. Give yourself specific steps you can take to start on the path of change – turn on your alarm clock for an earlier time, plan a trip to an inspiring spot, create the space for yourself to be more creative.

Michele Alise first inspired the Hangout event by inviting others to have their own Creative Friday – a chance to practice allowing more creativity into our lives.

In the Artist’s Way Julia Cameron suggests having Artist’s Date – a weekly solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The key is to woo your Inner Muse the way you would date a potential mate.

3. Point to the Destination

“Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.” Rather than talk in the abstract (“creativity,” “art,” “success”) be clear what these mean to you. For example, right now completing this blog post is one way I plan to be creative today. Later, I plan to do at least one sketch. This week I may dance some tango.

Philomena Timberlake:
“Since new year I’ve been trying to get up very early.. and I have initial time for
prayer and affirmation, trying to visualize as well. Then I have 1 or 2 hours set aside –
this is before any business or email.. I find it very encouraging because in the past I
tried to do everything else first, and I’d get to the end of the day.. and I’m tired. I
don’t want to sit down and learn or do something creative at that point.”

Willpower is a limited resource. If we don’t tackle the Big Rocks first, we’ll never get
to them.

B. Motivate the Elephant

1. Find the Feeling

“Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.”

Too often we set goals like “write 1000 words” or worse yet something vague like “spend more time being creative” But as the Heaths point out – the Rider has very little real control over the Elephant.

This is the key – what you put energy and intention only grows. Whether you use some of these strategies or continue to get frustrated and beat yourself up about it, you will
only get more of either.

One of the other Hangout participant, Philomena remarked, “..every day I manage to achieve this, I feel better for it.. there’s a snowball effect.”

Finally, she noted: “Every day I manage to achieve this I feel better for it!”

2. Shrink the Change

“Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.” This is a key lesson from the book!

One of the challenges echoed by everyone on the Hangout was that we all want to be creative but don’t feel there is enough time. By taking baby steps we get the Elephant moving in the direction we want, rather than running amok and exhausting the Rider in struggling to steer Her!

Too often we end up feeling guilty and discouraged. “I *should* have it more together,” or I *should* be better at this.” Beating ourselves up is not only discouraging, it can be more
than counterproductive. After a while, beating up the poor Elephant does nothing.

If you can’t do a whole Creative Friday, start with an hour or so. In the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”


3. Grow Your People

By getting ourselves to make the small changes – we begin to think of ourselves as someone who’s capable of bigger changes..  Through seeing our new identity, rather than “that’s for creative people,” we start to see ourselves as creative.

That’s why the guy on the street yelling at the top of his lungs rarely works, while the born again sinner gladly surrenders to transformation in front of the congregation. Identifying with our peers and feeling a part of the group helps us to go with the flow.

Surround yourself with like-minded people – others interested in being more creative. ”
When we associate ourselves with creative people, rather than think of them as “weird artist types,” we learn to identify ourselves as a creative.

“A rising tide raises all ships,” is the phrase that John Lee Dumas has popularized.

A Rising Tide Raises All Ships

(photo courtesy of Norma Davey)

Shape the Path

1. Tweak the Environment

Once you have the intention to have more creativity in your life, it really is the little things that count. Smokers have been known to quit more easily on vacation than at home where they’re surrounded by all their usual cues.

By making adjustments and tweaks you can make it easier to build more moment. By far the best thing you can do is to clear your calendar for that block of time to practice your craft or go on that Artist’s Date that Julia Cameron talks about in The Artist Way.

Michele Alise: “I set email notifications and turn off social media.. I even scheduled a
coffee break with a friend.. That helps me set the tone for the rest of my Creative Friday.”

2. Build Habits

“When behavior is habitual, it’s ‘free’ – it doesn’t tax the Rider.”

We’ve already talked about willpower being a finite resource. [Success begets success.] Achieving a snowball effect in the direction you want to go is getting the Elephant on your side.

“Can we slim down with time tasks? look at our habits – unsubscribe some emails..” suggest Philomena.

Once friends, family, even colleagues and clients see that you’re committed to your creative time and space, it will no longer be a question whether you are willing to make an exception “just this one time.”

3. Rally the Herd

“Behavior is contagious. Help it spread.” Be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi told us. Without being a Creative Nazi or Jehovah’s Witness of Creativity preaching in the streets, show people that it can be done, allow anyone interested to ask their questions, and support those who are open to your ideas.

Surround yourself with people who are not only inspiring but encourage your creativity.
Avoid those who want to rain on your parade by suggesting that you are being selfish.
They are probably either closet creatives or those who feel inadequate in your light.


So, here’s a Quick Recap –


  • Follow the Bright Spots
    Find out what’s working and build on that. Big rocks crumble after the steady drip over time, not the waves crashing on the shore.
  • Script the Critical Moves
    Identify what new steps are going to where you want to go. Your current way got you here. It’s time to figure out a better way.
  • Point to the Destination
    Don’t pick some uninspiring big goal like “Be creative” that’s bound to leave the Elephant sitting in front of the T.V. with a bucket of rocky road, perfectly pleased with its “creativity.”


  • Shrink the Change
    Contrary to popular self-improvement wisdom, LOWER the bar. Make it impossible to fail. Small changes followed by small successes build on each other and ultimately lead to BIG successes.
  • Script the Critical Moves
    Identify what new steps are going to where you want to go. Your current way got you here. It’s time to figure out a better way.
  • Grow Your People
    By cultivating a new sense of identity, you stop thinking of being creative as something that others do and begin to see yourself as someone creative.


  • Tweak the Environment
    Again willpower is a limited resource. Make it easy on the Rider by greasing the treads so the Elephant starts down the path you want.
  • Build Habits
    Slowly but surely you’ll gain momentum with the small wins. Taking a moment to work on a personal project may lead to a Creative Friday. This may encourage to finally take that sculpting or dance class.
  • Rally the Herd
    Behavior is contagious. Spreading the message will to listen will not only help your cause but before you know it, your baby steps become the start of a movement.