Category Archives: Creativity

Vulnerability welcome here!

It keeps coming up, this vulnerability thing. From the day I watched Brene Brown’s amazing TED talk, very few days have passed where I haven’t contemplated the strength and benefits of vulnerability and the requirement to tackle the associated shame.
In creativity we know how important it is to let go, loosen up, let things crumble, allow things to be really uncertain and messy.
Why?

Creating something really new, something transformational, rather than just a re-hash or re-jig, requires raw materials. I think of like of it as if it were the dawn of time, when all that existed was the “quantum soup” of life…the protons, atoms, some early proteins and swirling energetic patterns all waiting for creation to occur.

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but creation can’t occur in a vacuum and the desire to be creative, write a book, develop a body of artist work or come up with a transformational innovation (NOTE creativity is required first!) really needs the following conditions:

- Let go of and break up the old stuff, at least in your imagination, so that you can add rich material to your quantum soup, or if you like, your compost heap!
- Be comfortable with the stillness, calm or emptiness that occurs before the spark occurs
- Follow your intuition, noticing the things which arise and pay attention to the things that interest you
- Keep curious about the arising possibilities and sparks that arise – don’t leap on and attach to the first thing that comes up
- As ideas, paintings, possibilities or other creative forms manifest, keep a check on how you are feeling. Are you feeling vulnerable as you let go of old certainties and embrace new possibilities? Find ways of reminding yourself how courageous you are.
- Remember that without our vulnerability, creativity is not possible so accept it, no, welcome it

If creativity and innovation are as essential as we think, urgently required in today’s rather problematic society, perhaps we have a duty to create regardless of our vulnerabilities and fears. Bring it on I say.

Pulling it together? More like pulling teeth…

2013-12-02 16.32.12For someone like me, spending  a prolonged period completing and finishing is like pulling teeth.

And when I say “prolonged” I mean, more than a day or two!

Despite having a glorious 3 days in the field last week speaking, inspiring, teaching and drinking vino, it only takes a couple of days at the computer to finish me completely. I am trying to do “techy” stuff and consolidate about a years worth of work and content creation (no mean feat I have to say) I feel I am crawling along the floor…

Well intentioned coaches and colleagues are making me focus (tut) well they think I am.

Part of the creative process and the coaching process for that matter, is pulling stuff together, creating some sort of whole, often from disparate parts.  I liken it to pulling threads together, some of which will have arisen quite randomly, some carefully selected.

How they are pulled together is up to you and determines your unique approach and how the “finished” thing will look, feel, function and be seen in the world. I say “finished” in inverted commas as I don’t think I am actually finishing anything, as I am working on websites and presenting content. It doesn’t feel the same as finishing a painting, where there seems a definitive end to the process – perhaps hanging or framing (the picture, obviously).

And I don’t intend on creating a tightly woven pattern from these threads I am pulling together – oh no. I am acutely aware that in another 6 months time, things will have shifted round again and websites will have to be revisited. Anyone who says a website is “finished” clearly hasn’t been at this long!

So I am pulling these threads together, just enough to make a coherent whole: perhaps a loose weave or maybe just a more tightly wound ball.  I am not enjoying it  - I will not pretend otherwise, but having seen how much I have created this year, in terms of content and material (!) it really needs to start coming together and working better.

Do I have any helpful, supportive advice for myself or for those of you creatives under taking similar challenges?

Nope.

Not a nelly.

Really?

Well, OK, OK maybe a couple of things are keeping me going:

- Mars bars and coffee

- noticing that I am actually doing what I said I would (quite rare and something that should be exhaulted)

-remembering this too, will pass

-noticing the juicy stuff planned for the New Year

-remembering the freedom that will come from doing this

So there you are. There was a reason for this blog post.  If you are a creative person or someone who attempts to manage a creative person, please remember the words herein. We find this stuff really difficult, so if you know someone who can help us with it, please get them involved.

We need to be free to write, paint, create, imagine, inspire and come up with loony ideas that eventually make great sense….

 

 

Day 1 and a bit

My play spaceSo here we are.

They tell me its November, but I am not convinced. I am fairly sure its around the end of June – that’s what I am putting my money on anyway.

Creativity has been working its way back to my core, albeit in fits and starts since I wrote about Day 1.0 earlier in the year.  Some painting has been done (!) and I have written a tome on creativity for coaches (if you want to access to it, its actually a 4 module resource, which will teach coaches all they need to know about creativity!). Even writing this resources, which was meant to be a “quick” piece of work, took me nearly 3 months and ended up around 30,000 words, illustrating again, how incapable I am of doing small things.  I got so into the research/learning, that enjoyment took over:)

This is Day 1 and a bit, perhaps about 1.3 because progress towards the core is slow. Perhaps its better than way?  Along the way, I have taught and coached lots of OT’s,  written some great work and kept myself moving forward, but I realized that this year needed a boot put up its rear, so I signed up for John Williams 30 Day Challenge which started on Friday.

This program has been running for a couple of years now and I know a couple of people who have done great things during their challenges.  I spent several weeks trying to decide what to work on during November and initially decided to focus on something for Discovery Party, namely taking it into business, developing it as a team event and inventing some new games and tools.

But yesterday I had a growing realization that I was planning to do this anyway and the energy to do this was lacking, so I have just changed my plans…it needs to be about painting and establishing my creativity consultancy much more.

I keep skirting around the edges…tinkering with it all…justifying my plans in all sorts of ways, but ultimately my soul needs to paint.  And when I am not painting, I need to be expressing my value in ways which I currently am not.  I have many valuable skills which are currently not being offered to the world in the best way.

So that’s what November is about. Finishing some paintings, starting many more (I expect!) and developing some offers that are too hard to refuse:)

What is your November about?  Something to do with moustaches (Movember) or starting something else?

 

The joys and pains of finishing

The EndI am sitting here, working on a chapter for a book I am co-authoring. I have been writing the chapter for months and I need to finish it.

In the lounge, my (long suffering) husband is proof reading a rather weighty resource on Creativity for Coaches.  I need to finish it and get it out in the world.

On the dining table is the next “big job” (titter). Another large piece of work (about 30,000 words) that needs shaping, finishing, editing, proofing and releasing into the wild.

Upstairs in the room formally known as my bedroom, are at least 30 paintings, most are nearly finished (ha), most are at least 16” square, some are 3ft by 4ft plus. These too are shouting at me to finish and let them be live…

I hope you are getting a reasonable picture forming in your mind right now, even though I have only given you probably half of it!

I like a challenge, as you can probably tell and I would like to say that all “creative” types are like me, but that’s not true. Apparently creative people, especially the successful ones, do finish things (Kaufman J 2009).  Early in the creative process, there is a lot of intake of material, scanning for ideas and inspiration, playing with possibilities, generating multiple ideas, trying things out etc. But choices are made and towards the end stuff has to exit the pipeline…doesn’t it?

For me, finishing and completing is torture.

It means deciding on a end point for a piece of work, knowing that things could easily stay open and be worked on forever. Finishing something also means I have to accept that someone will view the work (be it a painting, book, or product) at a fixed point and base their evaluation of me, the work and probably other work, on that fixed point.  I hate that. My whole being wants to scream, but “it could have been better” “make sure you look at the painting that followed that one” “that’s just one part of me, that you are looking at” “can I explain it to you – you might ‘get it’ more” ”come and see more of my stuff”….

I also don’t like sitting with the accompanying disappointment I hear in my own voice “oh well, you tried” “it will do Jen, you don’t have the time/resources to do a better job”  Ahhhhhhh the internal talk is so annoying and tiring.

Recently I have realized that I tend to run out of steam about ¾ way through things. I make an amazing start, forge ahead with great gusto and then coming to a grinding halt…whatever the time scale is or the piece of work is! Why does that happen! I liken it to hitting the “wall” in a marathon race (apparently there is a conceptual wall that runners often hit at about 20 miles and find it really difficult to break through- the perfect intersection of fatigue and diminished mental faculties…I can relate to that).

But the book chapter is coming along and I seem to have broken through the ¾ barrier, I am starting to feel how good it might feel when it’s really finished. So here are my helpful thoughts, feelings and re-frames on finishing stuff:

- you get to tick it off the list (even though there will be further edits to do!)

- you might feel less worried about whether its good enough? Well there’s not a lot you could do once it’s released into the world!

- you get to frame it, exhibit it, show it somewhere

- you get to feel free to move onto something else (ha ha)

- you get to talk about it in the current tense, rather than future tense

- you get to use it/sell it/leverage it, rather than just create, create, create without external reward (and whilst I am all for intrinsic reward, I really need some new shoes)

So although I may be a natural seed sower and I find it difficult to tend to plants which need ongoing care (!) some harvesting is required, otherwise I won’t benefit from the fruits of my labours.

Back to the book chapter then…blogging is a wonderful distraction!

The best laid plans

2013-08-04 22.16.50I have been convinced for many years now, that it should be possible for someone like me, to have a plan and stick to it, even a little bit, but I am becoming increasingly unconvinced.

I want a plan – I have said to my coaches…all of them, business and life coaches!

You need a plan Jen – say my family, friends, business friends, advocates etc!

You need a business plan Jen – yes I really do have one, honestly!

I want a plan – say my clients when they come for coaching.

You must have a treatment plan – goals, aims and objective – that still rings in my ears

We are seriously addicted to plans of all sorts. Wedding plans, diet plans, wellbeing plans, business plans, career plans, holiday plans, life plans, garden plans etc. I think its a bit like a comfort blanket for human beings? Perhaps knowing we a “plan” makes us feel secure, gives us purpose instead of “drifting” (heaven forbid the luxury of that, in this world of opportunity, striving and achievement) Planning gives us roles to perform, habits to create, contexts in which to operate. Yep human beings love the idea of having a plan.

But they just don’t happen for me and I have been beating myself up for several years about it.  I have made countless marketing plans, PR plans, business plans, social media plans, financial plans (I am lying about that last one!). You have to when you run your own thing – its the law…well its part of “culture” or perhaps I would rather call it “institutionalized behaviour” that goes with being in “business”.   I have sat at countless business  breakfasts, with men and women alike thinking, “Really?  You are really telling me that you stick to your plans and they work out? You must be bulls****g me!”) I don’t say it, I just think it.

My plans go like this: make plan, write it down, put in it folder in filing cabinet, on the laptop or in a notebook. Get up next day, get engrossed in stuff, forget plan, leave for at least a month, find plan, curse self, congratulate self with miracle that has allowed some stuff to happen, curse self again (as its habitual), change plan completely, start from scratch wasting previous effort?

So this linear planning thing doesn’t work for me. By this I mean the sort of planning we are taught at work/school and everywhere else. It teaches us to get a goal, identify steps, complete steps, reach goal. It’s the stuff that SMART goals are made of (urgh).  But I have had a  revelation, courtesy of Richard Boyatzis (Resonant Leadership and other great works) and apparently, I am not alone!

In fact, according to Boyatzis linear planning, like SMART, only suits 1/4 of people…yes I said that right, only a 1/4 of people do well with goals, steps etc.  The other 3/4′s of us are either:  Domain/Direction planners, which mean we know the direction we want to go in but kinda weave a path towards it roughly; Short term, immediacy planners, who just respond to stuff and don’t have a long term aim; or Existential planners, who leave stuff up to fate/bliss/higher power.

This really is big news in many ways and I have been banging on about it, since learning about it from a brilliant free course (yes thats right, a free online course, with Boyatzis). I have also taken the step of bringing it up when I coach others, why wouldn’t I. When people want a plan, we first explore what type of planners they might be, what worked in the past for them.

Most recently a session started with the all too familiar “I want a plan” and eventually we found out that this lady was in the last group, she was a self expressed Existential planner, so making firm plans and steps etc had never worked for her. She always “trusted the universe” and noticed what was going well and went with it. I would add that I imagine most people are a bit of both. She also had a rough idea of where she was headed, so it wasn’t completely left to fate, but there was no question what her over-ridding, natural preference was.

I have been coached hundreds of times over the last 10 years and no one has thought to ask me this! Why? Perhaps if they had, I would have spent a lot less time beating myself up over the years and saved a lot of energy.

So please, if you are a coach, please bear this in mind and ask your clients. If you are a therapist eg an OT, please please see what has worked for your clients and not just enforce stuff you think you should because it looks good on paper, or you have been told to, if you are a parent or teacher, don’t batter kids into an unnatural way of working.  We are supposed to be working with people and understanding their individuality, strengths and path of ease – that goes with everything, even if we don’t find it comfortable to work with. If you are helping someone, its about them, not you.

This is good news.

 

Shift Happens (when you let go!)

http://www.happiness.co.uk/
http://www.happiness.co.uk/

Thank you Robert Holden, Happiness Guru extraordinaire, for imparting this pearl of wisdom when I attended your “Teaching Happiness” workshop in Oxford in 2000.  Thankfully, but also sadly, I seem to have been learning it ever since and perhaps I always will!

It seems that “letting go”  is one of the most important yet hardest things I am supposed to “learn” in my funny, squiggly and quite obsessional life.  Back in 2000, at Roberts training, I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy. I have always been quite a straight person and quite intense, but having my lovely kids, seemed to rocket my creativity and the relentless pursuit of fulfillment in my work (thankfully, this has mostly been to the detriment of ironing and other household tasks).

If you read my last blog post “Day 1″, it won’t have escaped your notice, that a significant “letting go” had happened, as I finally committed to putting creative practice, back at the core of my work.   But even before the virtual ink was dry, the most loyal sprite the LGF (The Letting Go Fairy), worked her magic once again, and by the end of last week, I was swamped with new work, new projects  and a flurry of fabulous new opportunities.  I won’t bore you with the details, but sufficed to say, that I was flat out all week and never picked up a paint brush past Tuesday!   Ahhh why, why, why does that happen!

I feel so ungrateful in some ways, but also know that it all happened because I decided to let go and paint.  I don’t mind if you disagree, I just know that the moment I give up on something or stop trying too hard, “things” suddenly decide to work out, or someone finally gets back in touch – usually the day after I decided to cancel a train booking or appointment!

It also happens that way with creativity, be it creative thinking or a creative practice like painting. If you try to “get” creative or start overworking something or decide that “today’s the day, I WILL finish that bloody painting” it often completely backfires. Or, as a team, you are in need of a new idea, but “it” really isn’t happening!

“It” happens when you decide to give up and go for a walk, or when you all start laughing and chatting about something completely different, or when you are shampooing your hair in the shower or when you decide to doodle or scribble aimlessly, letting your mind wander or just play. Basically when you let go of the stranglehold you have on the need for an outcome.

John Lennon said that “Life happens when you are busy making other plans” and he was right.

If you want to meet a new partner, stop looking, get a bad new haircut or leave your worst pants on, for that big night out and you are bound to met someone.

If you want ideas for a new paintings or for a poem, let go, let your mind wander, but in a mindful way and it will start to flow (John Richo).

If you want new ideas, start becoming curious, ask yourself some really different questions, talk to random people (I do that a lot, especially on the bus!) and let it percolate. Ideas will emerge, but not  always in your designated time scale, so take a notebook everywhere – I have started to allow myself to stop mid pavement if need be!

Shift happens when you let go… ( and I said shift, not sh*t, in case you were wondering) jx

Day 1

OMG I look so young...15 years old!
OMG I look so young…15 years old!

I have fought writing this blog post for weeks, but finally have stopped battling and just started to type.

Twenty five years ago, I feel in love with paint: as a rather keen 16 year old student, I started painting large scale (4′ plus) oil paintings and spent most of my six form in the studio. I have let go of the need to say things like “I should have gone to art college at 18″ as I can truthfully say that the path I took instead, has been the right one (our choices are rarely wrong – we just fail to see what’s right about them).

So I eventually chose a profession which truly understands how meaningful occupation, that is any activity which gives us purpose and meaning, has the power to heal, transform and re-create. This choice  has stood me in good stead for 20 years and I still love my core professional roots of Occupational Therapy and work with many OTs still:)

This is Day 1, because for the last 5 years, perhaps 6, I have felt a really strong need to commit fully to a creative life. Not just creative thinking, which I do all the time, or creativity at home or work, but a real return to painting, with a newer, deeper understanding of the creative process and it’s impact on creative behaviour.

Five years ago I attended an exhibition at the Tate Britain by Peter Doig, one of the most successful painters at this time. (For a while he held the record sale price of a painting at auction, by a living artist, about 11 million…so not just a little successful!) There is a deeper history to this story, which perhaps I will save for another day, but seeing his work 5 years ago, gave me a profound sense of connection and self belief in my own abilities as a painter.

Since that day in London, I have been trying to construct a life and a business which allows me to paint, whilst bringing in a tangible salary.  I have created some amazing products including Discovery Party, the Genie and various workshops, talks and courses. Specializing in creativity coaching has taught me so much – creativity doesn’t just show up in paint, it comes out in all sorts of ways and learning about my own creative process has been intrinsic to this journey and intrinsic  to the reason I have struggled so much.

There has just been too much choice – which project or product to work with, where to focus my efforts, what to run with. During this 6 years, fear drove me back to quite mainstream pieces of work, including work as an associate in a field that I really didn’t like…sorry, I learnt a lot, but was sooo pleased to leave! My  priorities are clear now: Discovery Party, OTCoach and ….paint. Painting keeps being left behind and this year it has been compounded by the loss of my studio at home, due to the growing family needs.

If you think I just a classic sunday painter or middle class lady dabbling with her creativity think again. I’m not a hobbyist, I don’t tinker with watercolours and I am not attached to some romantic myth about painting either. And this isn’t just about painting I know that if I just paint, 24/7, I won’t be happy.  And very few artists are actually just painters. Most have part time teaching posts or other jobs, or a supportive partner with a good job. Those that “just paint” are still blogging and doing business stuff online – that’s just how it is.

I really enjoy writing, speaking, teaching and coaching and have much to give back. What I wanted to do 5 years ago is weave together these things I love, but put painting and creating at the core. Sufficed to say, I have neglected the core and when that happens, you have nothing strong to work from. You are weak and things start to fall apart.

So this is Day 1, of my original intention from 5 years ago. This blog and website will be the main place that I write with a focus on: the creative process in general; my lived experience of creativity including my own work, what helps and hinders me personally; use of metaphor and imagery to gain insight and learning; coaching and creativity coaching; the relationship between psychology, art and personal development, the struggles and challenges as I grow my business whilst raising a family and retaining my sanity…and basically anything else I fancy in that vein.

…and if it looks like I am not doing enough painting, feel free to let me know:)

Embracing the “C” word – why creativity is so important and how to ‘do it’

clayCreativity has a poor image, especially in business, where is can be labelled fluffy, time wasting, a luxury or, worst of all “a nice activity to cheer up the team”.

The term “innovation” is much preferred and has a better image, but innovation is an umbrella term which is includes the process of identifying a need for change, finding new ways forward or new products, implementing and sustaining them.

To innovate, we need creativity and we need to not be afraid to use the “C” word.

“if we don’t start to learn as leaders who people are, what they are capable of, what their potential is, how creative most people can be….then we are not going to succeed. A profound shift in our culture has to take place…that evokes our creativity and brings out the best of each person’s talent”

Margaret Wheatly Leadership and the New Science

People get very scared when they think about being creative. They start thinking of school days, when they decided that they  were  “not creative” and “can’t even draw a straight line” (which is actually rather helpful in creative terms, as creativity is definitely not made of straight lines!)

The term “brainstorm” has been overused and often sends shivers down peoples spin, or induces a big yawn.  Brainstorming  for new ideas, can be great, but you can’t brainstorm on an empty, creative stomach.  Brainstorming should come much much later in the process.

I see the creative process as being like cooking. You need:

-          a recipe

-          ingredients and tools or equipment

-          preparation

-          guidance

-          and obviously some time

A basic recipe. What prompted deciding to cook (create) something new? Do you need to create a new product, new process, new approach or system; who are you creating it for; why is it needed.

The ingredients:  creativity doesn’t just happen. Creative ideas are usually born out of exposure to different things which collide, mutate and become something new.  You have to feed creativity.  Putting people in a room without some sort of inspiration, resource materials, examples etc. and saying “go forth and create”, doesn’t often work.   This isn’t about money. It may be about showing examples of good practice or introducing a “muse” who gives a certain flavour to the process.  (I also make a stance for limiting the ingredients…having to work with just what’s in the cupboard or fridge can make us very resourceful)

Cooking and creating are both alchemic processes…you put lots of things together, mulch them up and see what occurs. Many many creative ideas come about by colliding oppositions or combining random ideas e.g.

There are tools and equipment we can use which really unlock creativity and enhance our ability to generate new knowledge.  Think of it like needing grated cheese; you could spend ages finely slicing and chopping it or you could get a cheese grater! As a creativity coach, I have all sorts of tools and equipment, including a grater or two!

Preparing to create can be as simple as getting your head in the right space: being willing to experiment, being willing to take risks, being willing to get a bit messy, being willing to be a bit vulnerable and share your thoughts, being willing to listen to others, being willing to be seen.

Having support or guidance can be essential. The nature of creative exploration is such that it takes us out of our comfort zone. It’s not something we do everyday unless we are an artist, writer etc.  Having someone facilitate the process and ensure that the best results are produced can be invaluable.

Time. Sometimes ideas appear really quickly.  Sometimes, you just need to wait a little. Sometimes three ideas will come all at once.  Creativity is not a linear process and does not play by a set of standard rules.  Thinking about our “cooking” metaphor again, if you take the cake out of the oven before its ready, it won’t have risen enough or grow to its fullest! Conversely, you don’t want to cook and idea too long, or it will be burnt and stale.

So creativity needs to be nurtured, supported and enabled.

The world is facing some real challenges right now. Policies are demanding that thrift, lean and resourcefulness drive all that we do. Financial systems are struggling to cope with the social and cultural change.  Natural resources are dwindling.  The biggest resource we have right now is social capital and our innate creative abilities as human beings.

“Being a leader in the 21st century requires creativity, artistry, empathy and the ability to cope with complexity. Relying solely on logic, analysis and problem-solving skills is insufficient if the goal is to compete globally based on value rather than price” Linda Naiman

Are you ready to take up the challenge as a leader and ensure that your business or organisation flourishes rather than just survives?

Are you ready to embrace the “C” word?  (creativity in case you had forgotten)

Gaining insight through emergence

magnifying glass

We often find ourselves stuck in repeating patterns, saying the same thing or making the same mistakes.  This can be really helpful as it often adds to continuity, but it can result in great frustration, limited progression during change or difficulty implementing something new.

This happens to both individuals at home, work or in relationships. It also happens to teams or groups of people.

Human beings are pattern seeking and meaning making machines. Without trying at all, we can create order from chaos. We often see patterns when others often don’t.  We are comfortable when something “fits” with our knowledge, understanding or expectations.  We yearn for certainty and love to “pigeon hole”, even if we think we don’t.

This is natural and helpful most of the time, but it also explains why we struggle to make changes and break free of existing patterns that we or our “group” are enmeshed in.  Although we need structure and pattern to operate, we also need to break out of our patterns of  thinking, being or doing, if we want to think creatively or make significant changes.

Changing patterns and changing the thinking that goes with it, can be tricky because our brain is infinitely suggestible, but also loves repetitive thought.  We only have to think the same thought, see the same thing or do something a couple of times, to we lay down a neurological pathway which is primed to react even quicker when observe, think, do or feel the same again.  Repetition strengthens the pathway which is great for habits, actions, beliefs and thoughts that are helpful, but it makes personal change a challenge.  (If you are wondering how we know all this,  Functional MRI scanning is now able to take precise images of neural pathways being used during specific activities, be they practical, emotional or though states).

Most coaching approaches rely on asking questions to increase awareness and unlock wisdom, but the type of questions and the way they are asked, can lead to the “same place” or usual thinking or rehashed ideas.  Its why some people say “I can coach myself…I can just ask myself some of those coaching questions”.

The pioneering work of the late David Grove, led to the development of Clean Language and Emergent Knowledge techniques within coaching.

Put simply, if you ask someone the same question once, twice, three and even four times, they will usually give you their existing knowledge, ideas and usual responses.  It’s only when you go beyond the 5th iteration that new insights, awareness, ideas and knowledge appear.  Facilitating this process is skilful, but it yields amazing results.  The emergent knowledge process is a sensitive, active process and includes asking repetitive questions. It is based on the science of emergence (this science is used by Google and Amazon and uses networks and iterative algorithms).

Using emergent knowledge coaching  is one way I help people gain new insights and break out of old patterns.  Using the creative arts also helps to expand thinking, so click here if you want to read more.

Using the creative arts to gain insight and ideas

KAWA 1 jen GashIf the word “creative” brings you out in hives, a cold sweat or just turns you off, please think again. I’m not going to encourage you to splodge paint randomly, with the vague hope of claiming it “abstract art”. This isn’t about trying to religiously draw the potted plant in front of you, feeling a failure if it isn’t an exact copy. This isn’t about those “team away-days” where you really wonder why you are making “cupcakes”. And this isn’t about becoming an artist.

Arts based approaches have long been used in business and health services for their ability to shift mind sets, enable new thinking and promote wellbeing.

We use creative arts, including painting, poetry, writing, origami and other art forms to:

- awaken the senses

- sharpen intuition

- shift habitual thinking

- gain perspective and new insights

- notice what’s not there as well as what might be!

“The poet William Blake claimed that the imagination is our highest faculty and central to our perception and experience of reality. More than two hundred years later, scientific research on the brain and creativity confirms the great poet’s insight”  (Frank Faulk)

We use such a small percentage of our brain, typically the left hemisphere and probably over-use the Executive System in our brain, which is used to plan, execute and moderate. I say over-use, because our education system, training approaches, socialisation at home etc. all encourage us to think, plan, reduce risk, reason and logic.

I’m not underestimating the importance of this, but we need to use our “whole brain” if we are to create innovative ideas, products and businesses (In fact, using our creativity and right brain more often, actually increases the performance of our left brain as well).

Do you know when new ideas mostly appear? It’s usually whilst we take a shower, are in the shed making something or whilst we take a walk. There is a great example given by musician Tom Waits who notes the untimely arrival of an idea:

“Excuse me, can’t you see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can I write down a song right now? Come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you.”

But perhaps we can create an environment which encourages new ideas and enables new insights to appear?

I often use Emergent Knowledge coaching techniques, to gain fresh insight into a particular challenge, goal or process. Creative arts enable the same to happen, just in a different way.

Using a creative arts approach and combining it with a coaching approach, we can weave together right brain ideas with left brain evaluation, planning and process. This gives us the best of both world and is hugely powerful.