Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps
Genius Leads Success
For decades, the economy has been shifting away from manufacturing and industry. Now, knowledge drives economic growth. The most successful entrepreneurs in recent years are known for their creative genius. Consider Steve Jobs, of Apple. Bill Gates, of Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook. Warren Buffett, uber-investor of Berkshire-Hathaway. Elon Musk, of Space X and Tesla. Richard Branson, of Virgin. Even JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter “empire.” Many more names come to mind.
Schools have their hands full already. Bringing the kinds of learning necessary for students to thrive, creatively, in this knowledge-based economy? That’s a challenge in times of lean budgets. In fact, too often, “creative” programs are considered fluffy. When push comes to shove, funding is cut.
In stark contrast, many successful people became successful because of their creativity, not inspite of it. Their success came from…what they didn’t know. Their creative impulse drove them to try something. Something new. Something different. Something never done before.
Recently, my daughter and I were interviewed on our local NBC affiliate, on this subject. We had a delightful time. Over the past 3 years we observed something. Jessica grew more interested in writing fiction, as she has observed me writing fiction. Accidentally, we then tripped into the next 4 steps in nurturing her creative genius. Soon, she’ll have her inaugural fantasy novel published! This exciting event in her life prompted the interview. Feel free to watch, if you’d like. It’s just 3.5 minutes long. [Note: click on the little CC button in the lower right of the screen if you don’t need closed-captioning]
5 Steps to Nurture Creative Genius
As supportive adults in the lives of kids—youth ministers, volunteers, clergy, counselors, parents & grandparents—we can impact how deeply and how far kids engage their creativity. Big challenges face the world young people will inherit. Nurturing a habit of creativity will enhance not just the lives of those creatives but those they influence.
These steps might seem simple or obvious. But consider what impact greater intentionality would bring.
Notice the things that interest the kids you influence. It could be reading, writing, drama, music, poetry, design, building things. Just make mental notes of what gets them excited and engaged. These interests might fall under the simpler heading, “Hobbies.” But not all hobbies have the element of creation around them.
Find avenues for them to pursue their interest. Is there an inexpensive way to try it out? A a club to join? Not all creative interests will stick, so you won’t want to go all-in right away supporting Junior’s creative jag. Remain observant, because the newer creative interest may build of the earlier one. That may indicate a creative trend.
Provide simple ways for your kids to try out new things. And more new things. The idea is to nurture a spirit of creative exploration.
Sometimes kids get distracted by the newest “shiny object” so a little guidance back to the core interest might help. In a world full of iThis and iThat and millions of apps to amuse and distract, your work is cut out for you. If all else fails, maybe their creative energy can be aimed at developing a new app!
Always take time to celebrate and recognize kid’s achievements along the way. This should be a fun process, not an end goal. Have fun nurturing creative genius. And make sure the genius has fun, too!
What do you think? Is creativity essential? Or over-rated? Do you think the economy has really changed? Or not so much? Make your case.
Engage here. Lob your comments into the discussion panel below. Curious about the books Joel has written? Click here for the books in our store.
photo credit: Capture Queen ™ via photopin cc
Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops! (Part 2)
Persistent + Positivity = Payoff
As stated in my first blog, completing a task or “closing a loop” can be a huge challenge for me. Especially if I am thinking of other things while doing them. Some tasks are extra difficult due to the fact that there is time sensitivity involved. I shared in part one that opening and closing windows to help keep the house cool during the summer has two parts to it. The second part (*closing*) is normally the tricky part.
Another task I briefly mentioned in blog #1 involves doing more than one thing at a time. Example: feeding the cats. This may not seem like a multi-tasking sort of task but when you have three cats that don’t eat the same food or eat in the same location then you have got yourself a job!
For me something this “simple” will sometimes result in me leaving a can of food out by accident. It’s often the middle cat whose can I leave out for anyone to snack on. I get the first cat all set up downstairs but feeding two boys upstairs in separate rooms with separate foods is often when things go awry. I forget to loop back around to pick up the can of food for cat #2 because I am now focused on cat #3. Plus, since cat #3 is located in the laundry room, I immediately start thinking about the laundry situation and getting a load going. Once I do that, there is no memory of the can of food left out for #2 until it’s lunch time or my hubby finds it.
Persistent About Allowing Growth
Overall, multi-tasking is just not something that works for me. And, even though I have been through this struggle a million times it doesn’t improve the situation. It doesn’t matter if “on pain of death it must be done” because I can’t keep all those thoughts and feelings in some organized order in my head all at once.
I have to break this task down to feeding each animal individually. I also need to ask myself, “Have you finished the task at hand?” “Do you have any loops you need to close before moving on to the next task?”
This, of course, is easier said than done. So, I often put sticky notes up to remind me of daily open loops like washing clothes so we don’t run out! (More on that topic next time.)
Another helpful trick I have learned is pairing up a task you often forget to do with something you always remember to do. That way it will become a new habit much faster than usual.
It takes (persistent) work and a positive attitude (positivity!). If you get down on yourself, you just give yourself another thing to distract yourself with. Experiment! Try different tactics and see what works for you.
Keep on keepin’ on!
Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. Is there an area in your life you’re persistent at improving? Are you striving to bring positivity along for the ride? Invite someone you know into this conversation. Everyone is welcome.
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In Defense of Losers
Dump the Losers!
Across the spectrum of social media, as well in business publications and self-help books, there’s a theme gaining traction: losing the losers.
The argument goes something like this:
Each of us has people in our lives that are, well, less than optimal. Their influence isn’t as uplifting as it could be. They don’t add much to the quality of your life. Perhaps they even somehow inhibit the direction you want to go in. Worst of all, they may even be conveying to you, from time to time, a negative message or attempt to exert influence on you.
That said, because there is a limited amount of time to spend with people—and life is short—therefore it only makes sense that we dump these loser friends. Right? We deserve better. Who wants to interact with a person who “drains”? You should surround yourself with people that make you happy and fulfilled. Without any drama. They should contribute to your life experience.
If not, they are losers and they should be dumped. Or if that sounds too harsh, you need to get real, grow up and distance them from you. It’s only right.
So, does this message ring any bells for you?
Losers Are For Losers
Like most things in life, nothing is quite as simple as it seems.
There are five problems with this position:
- Who all is included in the “loser” category? Maybe family isn’t included in the argument—maybe—but pretty much every human you could ever interact with gets lumped into this generic, probable “loser” category. Any principle built on such a wide focus needs some level of vigorous skepticism. Not mindless embrace.
- At what age does the principle become appropriate? Is a parent “less than optimal” by insisting that Junior clean his room, zip up his pants or earn his keep?
- In what setting does the principle work? For instance, is it unjust when an employer requires the employee to complete the tasks they were hired to do? Or does that “inhibit the direction” the employee thinks is best?
- Why does hearing a “negative message” from time to time qualify that conveyor for ejection into the realm of “Loser”? Isn’t that exactly what a true friend sometimes does—say something the other doesn’t want to hear?
- Why do “we deserve better?” According to whom? It smacks of raw narcissism to believe that everyone else—or at least those we interact with the most—should add to our “life experience.” Wow. What happens when illness enters into the picture? That’s kind of a negative, isn’t it? Dump them?
Losers ‘R Us
Seizing upon the idea that it is justified, even enlightened and spiritual, to dump the losers in your life, is a harsh position to embrace. Because someday, more than once, you will be that loser. Think about it for a minute. You already have been.
Being dumped as a loser is not going to leave you happy and fulfilled. It hurts. You are not going to be more inclined to uplift others. Quite the opposite. Your messages will lean more towards the “negative” and your willingness to support others in the direction they’re going will be diminished. At least.
Dumping the losers in your life is, eventually, self-destructive.
Rather, struggle through difficult conversations. Work towards understanding. Be brave enough to speak truth to influence (when is that not received as “negative”?). Whether the person is in a position of power or not. Whether the person is a friend. Whether they are family.
Engage in real living to experience real community. Embrace the losers in your life. Because you’ll also be embracing you.
What’s been your experience with this theme? Where have you seen or heard it? In the workplace? In the–gasp–church? Have you been the dumper? How about the dumpee?
Next time: How To Follow Your Dreams Without Dumping People Along The Way
photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc
The Freedom To Be Stupid: 6 Questions
Technology Won’t Save You
Stupid is as stupid does.
Recently I saw a young man riding his bicycle down a busy arterial. Since the town I live in is consistently rated one of the “Best Places To Live In The Outdoors” this is not unusual. Lots of people ride. Unfortunately, it was also not unusual that he was riding without a helmet. Freedom of choice is great until those people inevitably crash, frequently sustaining major head trauma. It’s not like falling over while walking, but that truth seems to not matter when weighed in the balance of freedom. Even freedom to be stupid.
And Then There’s More…
This young man–who looked to be in his late 20s–doubled down on stupid. He was riding with no hands. This too, sadly, isn’t unusual. Sure, a moving bicycle is sort of like a gyroscope and “wants” to stay upright as long as its moving. It’s just that no one tells this to the rocks and other junk sitting in the roadways of the world.
What made this intrepid outdoorsman stand out from all others was that his hands, and especially his thumbs, were busy texting on his “smart phone.” Deathwish by technology.
So, he’s totally doomed…at some point. There will be a rock or some other impediment to his bike’s forward motion. The bike will be deflected from its path. And he will go down, his hands providing nothing since they’ll clutch his smarter-than-he-is phone all the way into the pavement. Or tree. Or car.
Questions I wish I could ask this guy:
- Is this text so urgent you can’t stop and get off your bike?
- Are you willing to subsidize my life like you are asking everyone else to subsidize yours after you crash?
- Did you know your smart phone is, well, a phone…from which you can make calls?
- Have you considered that texting while driving is banned all over the place because people get killed…by the one texting?
- What would be the worst that could happen if you just waited to talk to the person you’re texting?
- What would be the best?
Sometimes, freedom is overrated.
Engage here. What’s your peeve? Is there a point at which someone’s freedom becomes a problem for others? Is there a texter in your life that needs a wee bit of truth gently fanned into their face?