Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Creativity and Self-Identity

I bumped into a wall of self-identity the other day.   I didn't see it there, and it surprised me, and has had me thinking about it for a few days now.

Some context:   My quartet is in the beginning stages of thinking up a 13-15 minute show performance idea for a major performance we have in November of this year.  We want to sing three or four amazing songs, and we want to tie them together with a skit, or a "plot line", which is entertaining and memorable. Right now we have the beginnings of an idea for the story, and we're in the midst of finding elements to fit into it to flesh it out.

So we know we need to be brainstorming ideas, tossing ideas onto the table for discussion, letting "silly" out and not reigning it in until the latest possible moment.  Intellectually I know this is the way forward.  But it's so easy to discard or pooh-pooh ideas before they've even been fully explained, and I do it way too often.

In my mind, no one would ever describe me as "creative", or "artsy", or "free-spirited".  These are the kinds of words that I'd use to talk about some of my friends, but not me.

Me?  I'm hard-working, organized, intelligent, sometimes even dogged in pursuit of a goal.  I'm in tune with strategy and grand vision, and I know how to put together a business plan to meet organizational goals over time.  But creative?  Well, maybe at home in a crafty way, but not in the workplace.  I spent 24 years of my life developing and being rewarded for my workplace behaviors, and being "creative" was not one of the things I was known (or rewarded) for.  At least on the face of it.

But now that I'm retired from my former career, those old work habits and character traits are not as important as other, more creative ones.  Yes, to be an accomplished singer and coach I do need to be hard-working and organized, but that's not all.  (and this was the wall of self-realization that I ran into the other day.)

My life requires much more of the creative, artistic, free-spirited traits that I have for so long ascribed to others, but not myself.   If I'm expecting my quartet to continue improve in our performance skills, then it's time for me to look inward and explore the "artist" within myself.   We've come as far as we can by hard work and smart singing alone.  It's time to really explore the creative side!  If I'm going to be a coach to help other singers reach their performance potential, then I need to blossom my creative skills myself, and be more knowledgable of the creative landscape into which others will be going.

I feel like a door has been opened to a whole new world for me.  Like, "Hello Right Brain! Glad to meet you!"  As if I've only looked into my creative side as if looking out the window of the car.  I've traveled across the land of artistic endeavors, but I've never really stopped and gotten out and done any exploration.   It's time now.

In truth, I'm a little uncomfortable about it.  What if I look silly?  What if, what if, what if.   And I have to admit that my strategic-thinking brain has already gone into planning mode - "Let's see, first step, I should do a google search on 'unlocking creativity'. "   Old habits die hard.

But I'm also energized by the idea of growing this side of myself.   I know there will be fits and starts and ups and downs, some things will pan out and somethings will be abject failures.  But there are always good lessons in the creative process.

So, here's to a new season of blossoming and creating and trying new things.   Let's go!

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