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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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