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It’s true. In the last 20 years or so I’ve seen Sister Hazel play more than 100 times. If you know me well, you’ve seen me post about these guys on FB:

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What’s that? You want me to come on tour and sing with you? Sure!

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Santa#

Twas the night before Christmas
The topic was stress
Two bloggers were writing
Their posts still a mess…

  

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

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Hey Karin. Merry Christmas! Can I stop by and bring you some breakfast?

  

To: Regina@CreativelyConscious
From: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
Re: Christmas

­­­­

Thanks, but I’m on a deadline.  #toobusy #nostresseating

(more…)

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I talked to a client today who is participating in NaNoWriMo- that’s the National Novel Writing Month challenge for all you non-wordsmiths out there. NaNoWriMo (or Nano as it’s often shortened to) happens in November just like NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) with a similar goal of getting out of your head and just writing. NaNo participants work to produce a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Pretty impressive, eh? If any of your friends tell you they are participating in  NaNoWriMo, the nicest thing you could do is be very impressed when they incoherently ramble on about their novel. Remember, they haven’t slept much this month.

Many NaNo participants join local and online groups to keep themselves inspired. Groups host meet-ups, offer writing tips and send out occasional challenges. My client was telling me about one group she belongs to, who in honor of Guy Fawkes Day, challenged participants to write a scene that contained someone lighting something on fire. How can you not love that?

So, in honor of Guy Fawkes Day (which was yesterday but indulge me), since I can’t write a character lighting something on fire, I’ll give you this:

“Let The Fire Burn”
by Sister Hazel

A pocket full of matches
Not a cloud in the sky
Rusty can of gasoline
Dry wood stacked up high

I always run wide open
That’s just what I do
I leave behind a burning sky
That lights up my rear view

Hey, hey
Someday I might live and learn
Hey hey
Right now I’ll let the fire burn
Right now I’ll watch the fire burn

The blaze is getting bigger
Flames up to my face
Scars are getting hard to hide
But I can’t walk away

Hey, hey
Someday I might live and learn
Hey hey
Right now I’ll let the fire burn
Right now I’ll watch the fire burn

A little spark between us
Sit back and let it grow
Ride the rush and face the fear
As the wind begins to blow

Hey, hey
Someday I might live and learn
Hey hey
Right now I’ll let the fire burn
Right now I’ll watch the fire burn.

This is post #6 for the 30-day National Blog Posting Month Challenge.

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IMG_0784I talk a lot about finding things that renew your spirit, fill your well of creativity or just plain make you happy. Last night was that sort of night for me. I went into Baltimore and did one of the things that makes me happiest in life. I saw live music.

This is the first time I’ve seen Matt Nathanson live although I’ve listened to his music for quite a few years. It was a great show with a lot of energy, humor and some fantastic music. I’m a big fan of musicians who love what they’re doing and clearly, Matt LOVES what he’s doing. It’s hard not to feel inspired when you see someone grinning from ear to ear when an audience is singing along with a song he wrote.

During the set, he introduced one song as “This is a song about sex,” to which someone very close to the stage yelled back, “All your songs are about sex.” The audience laughed, he sort of agreed with the person and went on with the show.

Now it’s a little bit of a stretch to say that, but truly 98% of his songs are about relationships of some sort.  He has made an enviable career out of talking about the same subject over and over again. He just finds new ways to describe relationships or he focuses on one small aspect and deconstructs it.

So it got me thinking about the old excuse that I hear on occasion by people who profess to want to pursue a creative endeavor:  Everything’s been written about, there’s nothing new to say. That statement is only maybe, 50% true. Yes, it does seem that in our need to express ourselves creatively, most if not all topics have been explored in some way. But to say that there’s nothing new to say, well, that’s just not true. No one can express how you see the world – whether that’s through the lens of camera, the brushstrokes through acrylic paints or putting words down on paper and added music to accompany them.

So, if what’s been holding you back is the idea that you don’t have anything new to say, let it go and get out there and express yourself. The world needs your perspective. It’s selfish to keep it to yourself.

(This is day two of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month – check back every day to see how I’m doing on this challenge.)

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Earlier this week, I wrote an article about how mothers should consider themselves “awesome moms” instead of “good moms.” It was an article essentially about changing the focus from striving to be perfect (and looking for all the places where we fall short) to remembering how awesome we might really be. If you are interested in reading the article, you can find it here. The article seemed to strike a chord with a number of my readers including quite a few people who weren’t mothers themselves.

Perfectionism in all it’s horrible, insidious forms is deadly to a creative spirit. Perfectionism isn’t a quest for better output, it’s a death sentence to creation. It’s the hiss in the back of your head that tells you you aren’t good enough, your creation isn’t good enough and will only be enough if you reach some mythical, unattainable and unspecified level. Perfectionism is fear in sheep’s clothing.

Here’s an old joke… A tourist walks up to a New Yorker and says “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and the New Yorker responds “Practice, practice, practice.” Essentially that’s what all creativity is- repetition towards mastery. Practice is everything you do in every creative endeavor- and in any new endeavor period. Perhaps your practice level finally rises to such a high level that many people confuse it with perfection but you will always find ways to improve. And if you don’t? Then you are either in utter denial or you’ve lost the passion for what you are doing and it’s time to move on to something new.

Creative people judge themselves as harshly as mothers do. I see it all the time.  In my coaching practice, I spend hours listening and de-programming unbelievably creative people who try to tell me that they are different than everybody else and that what they do isn’t enough. I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend my time feeling like I am awesome instead of falling short all the time. Thankfully there is only one thing it takes to consider yourself creatively awesome:

  • You spend time doing creative things

Yup, that’s it. Really.

Now here is the tricky part. You are going to deny your awesomeness with statements like:

  • I don’t practice enough
  • I’m not disciplined enough
  • I’m too old to be good
  • I’m too young to be good
  • I don’t make any money at what I do
  • I have a “real” job to pay the bills
  • I’m not published
  • I don’t have a manager
  • I don’t play out enough
  • When I {write, paint, compose} it doesn’t {read, look, sound} like I want it to
  • People think I’m good at this but if they really knew who I was they would see I’m a fake
  • I must not be meant to do this because it’s so hard
  •  I spend all my free time watching tv/playing on the computer so clearly I don’t want it enough
  • I’m not nearly as good as {J.K Rowlings, Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, Justice Ginsburg, etc.)
  • I’m not as good as the people who are creating around me
  • No one does anything like the way I do it
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Yeah. Don’t do that. Seriously.

Do you know they did a study of student musicians at a university to see if they could determine what traits were most likely to predict which students would become top-level professional musicians versus students who didn’t?  They discovered success (as they defined it) occurred based simply on the amount the students practiced. At that point and moving forward innate ability had  nearly nothing to do with projected success.

You are creative simply because you engage in creative acts. That’s it — and I don’t care if your creative act is welding a thirty foot sculpture or writing a tiny little note from the Tooth Fairy to your daughter. You are creative and you get more creative the more you practice. AND where you are right now is not just okay, it’s awesome.

It’s hard, because we love to find those places where we imagine we fall short. We do it all the time. We hold ourselves accountable for a level of perfection we would never dream of asking of anyone else in our lives. So, if practicing something is the way to get better at it, here’s your assignment to practice. And it’s a hard one, so you are going to have to do it over and over and over again. It’s your personal Carnegie Hall.

I want you to try and acknowledge who you ARE instead of what you do.

And who you are is AWESOME.

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I’ll admit it.  After I dropped the girls off at school today I was rocking out to Jon Bon Jovi. Nothing like a little 80’s hair band music to get me motivated for the day. The song was “Dead or Alive” and as I was singing along, one particular line struck me:

I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve ROCKED them all.”

My first reaction was, “Well, Jon certainly thinks highly of himself, doesn’t he?” But as I thought about it, I realized he probably has done exactly that.  It might have started out as hyperbole but over the last twenty-something years I’m sure he has played for millions of fans. I’ve personally seen him live and he puts on one hell of a show.  When you listen to him sing that line, he sings it with conviction – he knows who he is and he’s not afraid to announce it to the world.

“Dead or Alive” came out at the apex of Jon’s career.  And yet, I know that was a sentiment he experienced well before he was playing to sold-out stadiums all across America. I’d even bet money that he spent time as a teenager in NJ imagining himself on stage in huge stadiums – hearing the crowd go crazy, squinting at the bright lights, pointing out to the audience and yelling, “Good night New York!”  He had the fundamental belief that he was going to rock the world with his music.

Imagine if you spent more time acting like a rock star. I’m not talking about buying a tour bus and partying all night with different people, and you certainly won’t get me into skin tight leather pants. I’m talking about the rock star mindset. It’s the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality, but (to steal from Spinal Tap), this one goes to eleven. It’s people camping out overnight to get tickets to see you, wearing your t-shirt, crying at the very sight of you kind of imagery. I don’t care if you’re writing the next top 40 hit or drafting a  business plan for your new accounting business. Because what often gets in our way of doing something is the fear that we can’t do it. So we spend all our time worrying and fussing and going over the “what-if scenarios” in our head over and over again.  We plan and research and plan some more and then we research again in case something new has come out. The result is we spend all of our time in the preparation phase and never execute the plan that could lead us to a new life, financial freedom, or could literally change the world. All because we doubt ourselves.

But not Jon Bon Jovi.  He knows he’s going to rock the stage – whether there are 5 people watching him or 50,000 people. There is no doubt about that from the moment he walks out onto a stage. And boy doesn’t he have fun doing it. Does he make mistakes? Sure. Did every song he wrote go platinum?  Not even close.  Is he still having an impact today and trying new things? You bet.  In fact, you should check out his newest adventure, The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen which has nothing to do with music and everything to do with changing lives.

This week I’m challenging you to channel your inner rock star. Walk with a swagger, feel invincible and know you have sold out the stadium.  Rock stars aren’t perfect, but the one thing they don’t lack is self-confidence. Trust in the awesomeness that is YOU.  Believe your own hype.  You are that great, you do rock the world and people are climbing over each other just to buy what you are selling. Spend a few minutes each day visualizing yourself as a rock star to the world and see where it takes you.

See you on your world tour.

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I had a philosophy professor in college who once gave us the assignment to write a 15-page paper. He didn’t care what the topic was within the scope of philosophy, but it had to be “original thought.” No references to other works, no documentation supporting our arguments, no classic topics – we had to find and expound upon a topic that no one had ever considered before.  As you can imagine, it was a nightmare of an assignment.

Sometimes we get stuck on the idea that things have to be completely different than anything else that has come before.  Why write a book about wizards (or lawyers or scary clowns or the military) when J.K. Rowlings (or John Grisham or Stephen King or Tom Clancy) has said it all?  Why paint a starry night? Van Gogh has got that market covered. Why come up with a different approach to the same old problem? Someone has probably already tried my idea.

Here’s a video from a band called the Axis of Awesome performing “4 Chord Song.”  Thanks to my friend Jenn at It’s Not Easy Being Green (check out her blog!) for introducing it to me.  Warning: The video contains a couple of instances of strong language that is not suitable for children, workplaces or anyone who dislikes cursing. If you don’t feel comfortable watching the video, I’ll sum up underneath.

If you didn’t watch the video- the premise is that in just under six minutes, the band came up with 36 different songs (mostly top 10 hits) that use the exact same four chords. In reality, there are probably hundreds of them out there. The fantastic thing is the band, using songs that were already written by others, still managed to create something unique, interesting and engaging.

Each of us possess a creativity shaped by our individual experiences. You can be creative writing a song about love or photographing a flower or brainstorming ways to make your team more efficient. The magic ingredient isn’t the originality of the topic, it’s you in all of your wonderful uniqueness.

Here’s one more example to think about. Do you remember a site called Excite.com? It’s still out there, but someone else decided to create a similar product with their own twist.  It’s a little thing called Google. Somehow I don’t think they were too worried that all the good search engine ideas had been done before.

Don’t get hung up on the idea that something’s been done before. If you do discover something totally radical, that’s great, but it’s not necessary. Simply give us your take on it- that’s why it’s different and interesting and creative.

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