How To Choose A Path

On November 14, 2013, Posted by , In Creativity, With No Comments

crossroads

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

You know that person who has it all together and knows exactly why they are here on this earth? Who goes after it with single-minded focus and never has any doubts? Who seems to have easy successes?

Do you kind of hate that person? It’s OK. It’s just you and me talking here. No one can hear us. You can admit it.

The truth is there are very few people like that – but they started somewhere. It’s a safe bet that early on in their life they enjoyed being curious. At some point they decided to commit to something and started putting one foot in front of the other. Perhaps they found they liked walking on that particular road. But it’s a safe bet that some of them didn’t like that path – and they changed it. And, now, many years later they are still doing it, having become increasingly skilled.

But for the rest of us we stumble along trying to figure it out as best we can. I am very lucky to get to engage many people around the subject of their creativity. Oftentimes they are overwhelmed by ideas – so much so that they can’t actually choose a path and they are left tired and frustrated by their absolute lack of progress. Perhaps this describes you. What I tell these people is simple: pick anything. Literally any one of the ideas that you have is just a fine place to start. It sounds flippant but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start to get some traction. To find out what it’s like to start walking down a road. You don’t have to have any real sense of the long-term goal of walking that road. It doesn’t hurt to know where you’re going, but wouldn’t it be boring if you always knew?

And that cuts to a vital part of the creative process – engaging with uncertainty. For many people that is extremely hard. They ask themselves, “What will come out once I start creating?” And the corollary of that question: “Will it be any good?” To which, as a creative coach, I say, “Let’s find out.” One thing is assured – you will figure something out. You may find you don’t like the thing that you created! And that’s OK. You may find it takes far more time than you expected! (OK, you WILL find it takes more time.) And that’s OK. Because you’re learning. One foot in front of the other. Moving somewhere. Or in the case of our friend Ray Bradbury: jumping off of cliffs and building wings on the way down!

One of the biggest things I can offer my clients as a creative coach is that it’s all part of the creative process – the fits and starts, the procrastination, the exhilaration, the stuckness, the piece that looks nothing like you envisioned. And during your creative process you just may learn to be OK with the uncertainty. And that will be a lesson you couldn’t learn frozen at the crossroads – the path has to be walked. In fact, it’s waiting for you to walk it right now.

-Alexander Warnow
Founder, Springboard Workshops

Photo by Carsten Tolkmit

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