Why is it that we so often see challenge and confusion as obstacles to overcome? We strive to figure things out in an effort to make our lives simpler, as though “easy” is the reward, when in fact the absence of challenge and confusion more times than not reflects an absence of creativity. Learning curves can be hard and at times overwhelming, but the opposite—and routines are just that—is boring!
Reinventing yourself is scary stuff, but change has a way of fueling our creativity. True, we avoid it because we’re pained by it so often, but we must strive to absorb this axiom: Change is not only inevitable; it’s fundamental to living creatively. The troubling part is that oftentimes, we’re not even aware that change is taking place.
While we’re sitting in our offices, workshops, or studios, with our noses to the grindstone, we have no idea how many upheavals are about to commence. How can we? We’re too busy going through the motions, doing the day-to-day work. Certainly, when catastrophic accidents and illnesses occur we can’t help being shocked awake. But what I’m referring to are those times when we’re on autopilot without once realizing that we have the power not only to take notice of change, but to use it to improve the way we’re currently living.
Becoming aware of the currents of change means getting out of our own heads and taking a break from our own biases and habitual behaviors. Sharing time with friends, experiencing nature, and being significantly helpful to others in need can help wake us up to the silent fluctuations going on around us. Experiencing something radically new is perhaps the best way to become reinvigorated.
Very often we find ourselves so invested in avoiding challenge that when it does occur, we rarely accept responsibility for it. While it’s true that change often comes as a result of things we couldn’t possibly have imagined, just as frequently, it arrives as a result of things we’ve done to bring it about. If you’re like me, you regularly look back on changes such as losing a job, divorce, or even the angry dissolution of a rock band with an I’m-not-at-fault view. Circumstances or someone else’s actions are always to blame. “Not me!” we say, and always with great certainty.
In the past, when I thought back on some of the back-aching transitions I’ve had to endure, I made those same excuses. I now see that there was very little serious thought given to how I was personally responsible for the way things turned out. Many of my most difficult periods of change had to do with mistakes I’d made that I was either not brave enough to admit to or too blind to see. Several years ago I went on a journey of sorts into my own mind to discover some things about the way I deal with change. Among other things, I noticed I have a very difficult time with it.
We have a way of blinding ourselves to the actions we’ve taken that have led to our contractions, or failures, if you prefer the term. But by uncovering the profound yet subtle thought patterns that prevent us from seeing the ways we’ve been at fault in many situations both personally and professionally, we will be able to better understand the way our minds work and our own tendency toward self-sabotage.
Brain Bottle Opener: Acknowledgment is Knowledge
In this BBO exercise I want you to take six minutes to write about an episode in which you were wholly or partly responsible for creating painful change in your life. Think about a time you had (up until this moment) blamed something or someone other than yourself for a problem you were experiencing. You could be thinking back to a divorce, a business venture that went bad, or a break with a friend or family member. Write it all down with as much sensory and emotional detail as six minutes will allow.
And though it’s not a panacea, armed with this new knowledge about yourself, you will be better equipped to work with and relate to people in a way that’s more relaxed, more joyous, and more productive.
Peter Himmelman is a Grammy and Emmy nominated singer-songwriter, visual artist, author, film composer, entrepreneur, and rock and roll performer. He is the founder of Big Muse, a company, which uses music to help unlock innate creativity. Clients include The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, The UCLA School of Nursing, 3M, McDonald’s, Adobe, and Gap Inc. Himmelman is also an alum of the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern. His latest book, Let Me Out(Unlock your creative mind and bring your ideas to life) was released October, 2016 and is available on Random House Tarcher/Perigee
“Fear is one of life’s biggest roadblocks, which is why Peter Himmelman’s book is so important. Let Me Out gets to the heart of how we can keep fear from limiting our potential by tapping into our inner resilience, creativity, and strength. There’s deep wisdom here along with very practical tools for translating our ideas into the real world.” – Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post
Follow Peter Himmelman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/peterhimmelman
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