I recently attended a brunch hosted by a friend. She lives in a different city and is also a few years older than me which meant I didn’t really know any of the other women attending. And so, as we were talking, the standard American, get-to-know-you question came up many times: “What do you do?”
We were a diverse group – one woman ran a non-profit, one was a teacher, one had made a career of interviewing executives and CEOs. One woman, who had been quiet most of the conversation finally remarked, “Oh you are all so creative. I wish I could be like that- but I need predictability. I work for the government. I’m not creative at all.”
That last statement is a dead giveaway for someone whose personal creativity has rarely been acknowledged. So I asked her a follow up question. What did she do in her spare time? She responded, “I train and compete in agility contests with Border Collies.”
Oh sure. No creativity needed in that endeavor.
I don’t know if you’ve ever spent any time around this particular breed but Border Collies are smart dogs who need a lot of stimulation. They crave challenge and will create their own if necessary – like how fast can they rip new curtains off the wall and run around the living room, chintz flying behind them like capes waving in the breeze. (Not that I’ve ever had any experience with bored, smart dogs…) You have to bring your “A” game when you raise Border Collies. There is no phoning it in.
Here was this incredibly inventive woman who couldn’t recognize her own creativity. She denied her own innate abilities until I made a case for her artistry as a dog trainer. It took her a few minutes but she finally got it – and the look on her face when she realized that she too was creative was one of relief and joy. She wanted to believe she was creative; deep down inside she knew it, she just needed a little encouragement.
You are creative. Let me say that again. You are creative. It doesn’t matter if you are writing the Great American Novel, growing heirloom tomatoes, taking your career to the next level or making a happy face out of your toddler’s lunch of raisins and carrot sticks. You are creative every single day. Recognize it. Embrace it. Celebrate it.