This weekend I made gazpacho, homemade vanilla ice cream, pulled about 3000 weeds from my overrun garden, and made a wicked collection of dinosaurs out of play dough. I had a strong yearning to get my hands dirty, make a mess, and fully immerse myself in everyday tasks that required little thought. What spurred this creative energy?
The realization that I’ve been stuck in a creative rut. I am fortunate enough to have a career that allows me to flex my creative muscle on a daily basis. But sometimes even my creative outlets can become very routine and monotonous.
A few weeks ago our leadership team held our strategic planning meeting at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond, VA. We kicked off the meeting with a right-brain team building exercise geared toward helping us think with a new mind and see with new eyes. Each team was given 25 pounds of clay and our objective was to build the tallest structure we could within an hour.
The touch of the cool firm clay brought my hands to life. I reveled in the mindless pounding, rolling and smoothing of the material. And, of course, in the creative challenge of beating out the other teams. All worries, deadlines and the constant chatter in my mind seemed to dissipate.
Happily, I was a member of the winning team, although I do have to give kudos to another’s team gargoyles.
I love a good competition and while totally in fun, winning was a natural thrill. But more than that, I spent the rest of the day feeling like I was walking on air. The exercise was a breakthrough moment for me. I realized just how much I had been neglecting that side of me that needs to chop vegetables to make a soup, plant a bulb to witness its blooming glory, or simply sit down at the kitchen table with the kids to build colonies of green, red and yellow snakes or dinosaurs. My mind – and soul – had become stagnant, bored, and overwhelmed with daily tasks. After that day I realized I needed to purposefully seek out creative opportunities to fuel my spirit.
I am grateful to the Visual Arts Center for offering a space where businesses can meet and infuse right-brain thinking into “the daily grind”. If you live in the Richmond, VA area, I would highly recommend exploring opportunities with them, whether for you personally or for your organization. And if you don’t, I encourage you to find a similar program. Humans have an inherent desire to create, but this is often stifled by the realities of our current paradigms. Places such as the Visual Arts Center and thinkers like Daniel Pink (check out our previous blog on creativity to read more) assert, and rightly so, that as individuals, and as a society, our future success lies in working, playing, and thinking more with our right brain.
So, have you been in a creative rut? Are you taking the time to do things outside of your daily routine, even if your job is “creative” by nature? What do you need to do to continuously nourish your creativity? What inspiration can you provide to those around you to try something different, take a risk, or get their hands dirty?