As a child, I was often praised for my unbridled imaginative play. It was not uncommon for me to write, act, sing in, and choreograph my own productions (in which I was also in charge of set design!). I was drawn to the performing arts and had many opportunities throughout my youth to sing and act in a variety of school productions. To this day, these memories hold a certain magic of their own for me, and I still feel a jolt of excitement whenever a curtain rises.
I stopped seeing myself as “creative” around the time I got to college. Ironically, I chose this college based on its strong performing arts reputation, and yet it only took a few dead end auditions for me to disqualify myself as “the creative type.”
From where I stand now, I want to reach out, shake my younger self, and let her know that no one should be talked out of thinking she is creative. So often, this self-labeling is a product of external messages that we distort and internalize (e.g. “I did not get the part and therefore I am unworthy.”). This form of self-sabotage is too common, and its message is hurtful and limiting. However, it took two pivotal events in my life – one personal and one professional – to transform how I now think about creativity and my relationship to it.
First, I am raising two playful, curious and imaginative children who remind me every day that we as human beings are innately creative. My six year old does not think twice about drawing a picture to give to a friend, and my four year old will simply dance around our living room regardless of whether or not she has an audience. I know this uninhibited form of expression will inevitably abate as they get older, but for now I feel privileged to routinely bear witness to their pure creative selves.
Second, my training and experience as a coach has taught me that being creative is an intimate affair; an expression of one’s core self. It is as much about being as it is about doing. This realization inspired the design of our workshop, “Ignite Your Creative Self!” and also fuels my work as a coach. Each day, I have the joy of working with coaching clients to discover their utmost creative selves and harness this power to activate meaningful change in their lives.
Now, when I think about my most creative moments – whether performing on a stage, developing an idea at work, or letting my imagination run wild with my kids – I see that they all have one thing in common: the unapologetic presence of my authentic, joyful self. It is in these enchanted moments, void of self-critique, that I feel my creativity ignite and anything becomes possible!