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Why People Who Don’t Fear To Embarrass Themselves Are More Creative

Why People Who Don’t Fear To Embarrass Themselves Are More Creative

Want to be more creative?

Creativity is within your reach if you can cultivate the proper habits. You need to cultivate proper habits because connecting the dots and thinking creatively is a process for all of us. It’s a long-term process rather than a single event. Those people who are more inclined to expose themselves to new ideas, people who don’t mind embarrassing themselves, get to improve upon their creativity. Those people who wrestle with creative ideas for years get to refine their ideas and reap the fruits of their labors.

In an excellent post about creative thinking, writer James Clear exposes the myth that is the “eureka” moment, the so-called “light bulb” moment or the aha!” moment. He demonstrates that a single flash of genius isn’t really what it is made out to be by citing the most iconic eureka moment in the history of scientific storytelling: When Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground in 1666.

When you think of Isaac Newton, you probably imaging he was born a genius. But, he wasn’t. When Newton was young, he did so poorly in grade school that his teachers gave up on improving his grades. And yet he grew up to become the greatest English mathematician of his generation. How did he do it? He kept improving himself throughout his life despite any ridicule and disapproval he faced.

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Concerning Newton’s most famous work on gravitation, Clear writes:

“In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.

While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. ‘Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,’ Newton wondered. ‘Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.’

And thus, the concept of gravity was born.”

However, what people fail to realize, Clear continues, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years. It wasn’t until 1687 that he consolidated his brilliant thoughts and published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.

“The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades,” Clear points out.

In other words, the real creative work, the connecting of the dots, the bridging of seemingly unrelated and obscure ideas happened between the years when he first got the flash of insight and when he published his iconic book. Creativity is a process, not a single event.

Exercise your creativity despite judgment for as long as it takes

Judgment of our creative work or thoughts should not be feared. That judgment is a useful feedback metric. Creators need it because, without it, there is no opportunity to improve and make our ideas better. Without it, there is no verification of work completed. So, don’t let fear of being ridiculed, embarrassed, or humiliated stop you in your tracks. Even Albert Einstein’s work was criticized and rejected.

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In the 1972 classic book Albert Einstein: Creator & Rebel, authors Banesh Hoffman (Einstein’s former scientific assistant) and Hellen Dukas (Einstein’s secretary for many years) reveal in the most intimately knowledgeable and touching way how the scientific community criticized, ridiculed, and rejected a patent clerk who published a revolutionary theory.

Though criticized and rejected, Einstein, the lowly theoretical physicist, wasn’t discouraged. He pressed on with his creative work and as time went on, more and more scientists saw the validity and incomparable brilliance of his work and thoughts.

Today, Einstein is recognized as the creator of relativity, godfather of quantum physics, and bender of time and space. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and “for his services to Theoretical Physics.”

There will always be a critic who dislikes your work.

Every creative person worth his sorts will face critics. It’s almost inevitable. And if you truly care about your work or ideas, you will experience creative uncertainty, doubt and fear many times, especially when releasing something new you’ve created to the world. Only those who stand firm and don’t let fear of disapproval or embarrassment smother their creativity will rise and leave a mark in this world.

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“Being in the top 1% of intelligence has no correlation with being fantastically creative,” writes Clear. “Instead, you simply have to be smart (not a genius) and then work hard, practice deliberately and put in your reps.” The most creative people share a willingness to labor in their craft, ship their best work, and respond to critics and the audience in a smart way that enhances their next creative cycle.

Remember, the risk of your work being judged, of making a fool of yourself, pales in comparison to the terror of inaction and regret of missed opportunities due to fear of being embarrassed.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Think about what it would be like to be embarrassed for exercising your creativity. Would it really be as bad or humiliating as you think it would be? In most cases, you’ll find you’re worried about things that aren’t humiliating, disconcerting, or enduring. So, let go of your fears, embrace discomfort, and start creating.

Featured photo credit: CREATISTA via shutterstock.com

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More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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