I CAN! What powerful words. How many times has someone doubted your idea and told you that you can't? Or maybe you've heard something like, "I just want you to think realistically." Or how about, "You don't even know anything about that. How do you think you can do that?" For me, these words are always a challenge rather than defeating. I always giggle inside when people say to me, "How did you even think of that?! or How are you going to do that?!" My secret..... I believe I CAN!
The world is full of so many dream crushers. But good news! For every force, there is an equal force. We cannot be defeated by a negative force if we know we are armed with an equally powerful force. The universe is in perfect harmony in this way. To unlock the positive benefits to defeat negativity we must believe. And I don't just mean paying lip service what we believe. We must tap into the excitement within, at the mere thought of achieving our dream or making our idea come to fruition. Here is how we achieve this:
I nspired! We must be motivated, inspired and full of joy and hope at the idea of what we CAN achieve.
C onfidence. We must believe we CAN which builds confidence that our positive force CAN enable mighty things to happen.
A ction. We can't just sit around and wait for it to happen, we must take inspired action with utmost confidence. And we can't quit trying. One way doesn't work, review what you did and try it another way....just do something!
N ow!!!! Perhaps the most important part. Don't wait for the time to be right. The time to take action is now. Maybe you need to start working on a plan....just do it! Negative forces will use procrastination to their advantage.
It's a liberating feeling to say I CAN! Try it.... I'm confident you will like how it feels. YOU CAN!!!!
Trying to find a creative solution to a problem, but feel like you are running into a wall? Do you feel like you got stuck with the “non-imaginary gene”? This is normal. In fact, according to a global study, 75% of people feel they are not as creative as they could be. That’s just 25% of people who hold a positive perception of their creative abilities. Often times, a lack of creativity and “out of the box” thinking is a product of narrow perspective.
I once led a group of graduate students in a creative exercise to develop a new program within an existing organization. Several parameters were included in the assignment, including the mandatory inclusion of the organization’s existing infrastructure and the new program had to enhance service at no additional cost to program participants or the organization. What was the group to do? This is a common situation faced by many.
I armed each student with a Post-It note pad and a pen and let them know we were going for a walk. I let the group know as we walked out the door that we were going to literally “get out of the box” so they could think “out of the box.” What exactly is entailed in thinking “out of the box?”
Thinking “out of the box” means to think in an alternative manner in addressing whatever task you have at hand. Alternative thinking means that you must look for solutions that are not common. So how does one go about thinking about what people don’t normally think about? And how can we expect people to think "out of the box" if they lack confidence in their abilities to be creative? Here are 7 creativity-boosting tips that the grad students learned that day that I believe can help anyone (or any group) “rev up” their creative mindset while increasing confidence.
1. Change your perspective- LITERALLY!
This may mean getting away from your desk, your living-room, or your normal surroundings. I had the group take a walk so that the “box” that they were in could be expanded. From fresh surroundings we can free up fresh ideas. At times we stress out our creative processor when we get stuck. Changing what is coming into your mind (your physical perceptions) can help you get unstuck through re-focus.
2. Don’t limit your thinking-
Once out, I told the group to think as a customer about a new program that they would appreciate. I told them that the sky is the limit, use up every sticky note if need be. I told them to jot one idea on one sticky note as the ideas came to them. No idea should be pre-judged. Just write! Unfortunately, we can censor out great ideas too early in the thinking process. Be open to what is in your mind, without judgment, and let the ideas pour out.
3. Shift your mindset-
I had the group think from a customer perspective-looking backwards. Looking at the end result (what you would like) and working backwards helps shift your mindset and perspective to see additional possibilities. Often when we are thinking up from the "creator" side, it's hard to see. Looking from someone else's point of view is very helpful.
4. Look for patterns and trends-
Once back inside the classroom from the “out of the box” walk, we arranged everyone’s sticky notes on the wall. We looked for patterns (like ideas) and put them atop one another until we had all unique ideas. We then looked for trends and themes. (Note- This is the starting place if you are creative brainstorming on your own). By arranging the thoughts (idea notes) into themes we then have better grouping to think through. What’s really fun about this stage is that in a group, it can be pretty funny to see what some people wrote down. You begin wondering about just how random your co-workers thoughts are. The act of laughter, however, can help relieve pressure, build collaboration, and free up creativity moving forward. For an individual who is going through this, you might question your sanity. Again, smile at the sense of humor that is within you that just popped out on a Post-It note.
5. Be open-
Like I said, don’t self-censor. Ask yourself (or your group) questions as to the pros and cons of each idea. Trends will begin to appear again and the ideas can be refined further. My group refined over 150 ideas down to 6 within about 30 minutes. The group then voted for the top 3. A vote with just the top 3 was then taken. If you think that was the end-WRONG! The next step is really important.
6. Put your ideas to the test-
The "final" vote was a pulse of where the group was. Had they stopped there, they’d have missed the best and creative idea. I then asked each of the people who voted for a particular idea, why they felt it was the most creative solution and why it was so great. I also asked if there were any weaknesses to the idea. Each vote justification and criticism was given and recorded.
7. Be willing to have an “ah-ha” moment! –
Most people would have thought that the idea with the most votes would have clearly been the best choice, instead, the students each had an “ah-ha” moment as votes began changing. Somehow, thinking through and talking through the positives and shortcomings of each idea shifted people’s thinking. In the end, the group reached consensus on a highly creative solution that they were very confident in and VERY proud of!
Regardless if you are trying to figure out how to decorate your living room, or if your group is coming up with ideas to build revenue, by changing your perspective, both figuratively and literally, and taking the time to think through the pros and cons, success can be had. Creativity is about letting your imagination run wild and then reeling it back in and examining it to best fit the application. Now, go be creative!
In 2009, I faced a cancer scare when my doctor found a large lump on my thyroid gland. Following an inconclusive biopsy, surgery was scheduled to remove the lump and my thyroid. It is amazing how one’s perspective shifts at the thought of mortality. It was during this time, during a “what if this is it” moment that I vowed that if given a chance, I would never again take for granted each and every day I have to make an impact on the world around me. The thought of possibly losing my voice and worse, having my life cut short, with too much unfinished and without having left a legacy for my kids- I prayed for another chance at life. “Millions long for immortality yet do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon” ~ Susan Ertz.
In 2008, North Carolinian, Robin Emmons, decided to solve the problem of more than 72,000 people in her state not having access to fresh produce. She transformed her backyard into a massive garden and has now grown more than 26,000 pounds of produce. Richard Nares, having lost his son to leukemia in 2000, realized that many sick children lack transportation to get to critical medical appointments. He formed a group to help transport kids fighting cancer to treatments. These people found that life has a much bigger meaning. They found purpose.
Not every person who finds purpose need face mortality (like me), but in the hundreds of inspirational stories that I have read and that people have shared with me, there is a common denominator of suffering or need. Why is it that it took troublesome news from my doctor to wake me up? It’s not like I had been sleeping through life. I have always volunteered my time to my church, my kids’ school, and others who need my assistance, so why was this time different? I believe it boils down to complacency. Too many fall into thinking that tomorrow is a guarantee. We have bought into thinking that “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I understand that this statement was concocted with good intentions, but what if today were the only day? I’m proposing today is NOT the first day of the rest of your life. Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is simply a promissory note.
What is it that you see in the world that tears at your heart? What can you do? For me, I had another chance, a chance to be a voice for those without a voice and for those who simply need to hear word of encouragement. Today is the cash in your hand… spend it wisely.
I have been "baby-sitting" my son's dog for about a month now. This is not the first "long-term sleep-over" for her. Last year we had her while we were pouring over 2,000 sq. ft. of concrete in the backyard; which meant she was cooped up in the house for way too many hours on end. Bella is a 3 year-old Husky. She came to my son as a rescue and should serve as the poster-animal for rescue animals. Bella does tricks, she is well mannered, and says "I love you." She's an all around great dog.
My inspiration for writing It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your It came in realizing that there are so many people in this world that are crippled by not taking action out of fear. Not that everyone walks around afraid to try new things or think for themselves, but fear, I have found is an inhibitor of action and growth for many. Some people don't want to look dumb; others are afraid if they do something the way they feel it should be done (for better results) that their ideas will not be accepted. Excellence, on the other hand has a foundation of love or positivity. By breaking through the shackles within our own perceptions and shifting our outlook we can crush the fear within us and produce greatness; and so many of you have this but we just need a mind shift!
So you rush out the door and jump in the car and you realize you forgot to fuel up the last time you drove. Perhaps you were so pre-occupied that the low fuel indicator light popping on didn’t even catch your attention (assuming you have such a light). I do- and it always freaks me out. I’ve experienced running out of gas and I didn’t like it. Not only is it a hassle, but it makes you think, “why didn’t I just stop and go fill up?”
Some people are okay driving on empty….pushing it. I know how far I can go when the gas gets to a certain point so I stay within my comfort zone and try not to go past that. One of my daughters believes that at ¼ tank, she is about to run out of gas any second. She doesn’t even know if her light works; she’s not comfortable going there to find out. Another daughter will push it- as the 1990’s hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa would say, “Push it real good!” What is it that makes one so comfortable “pushing it” it with some things (like gas), but being so conservative in others (such as undertaking something new)?
Herbert Simon said, “One finds limits by pushing them.” If this is so, how do we truly know our limits if we dare not to go there and pursue them? I’m certainly not advocating driving your car with your low fuel light on; I’m talking about pushing into an area that makes you uncomfortable. Pushing into an area that you have not gone but proclaim you cannot do. Napoleon Hill stated, “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.” As the wonderful motivational speaker and radio personality, Les Brown, often says, “You have greatness within.”
Don’t buy into the limitations that others have told you what you can and cannot achieve. Desire is a super-sonic fuel that can help you push past unwarranted beliefs that you don’t have the fuel to do what you desire. Life begins where your comfort zone ends. Greatness awaits. Make It! Happen!
Do you have the guts to "Push It"? What is it that you would like to do, but are uncomfortable with?
Have you ever had a dream, so vivid, that when you awoke, the feelings and images in your mind stayed with you for hours, days, weeks, or even years? I once read a quote, “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you”~ Marsha Norman. How awesome is that?! Are the manuscripts of our souls limited to just the dreams we have when we are asleep? And what about make believe? If you have children or grand-children, think of how they “dream” up situations during play.
When I was about 9, my friend Heidi and I had this awesome place that we would often go and play, behind the elementary school. At the back border of the school property and the adjacent homeowners’ yards, was a small creek, surrounded on either side with a thick wall of pussy willows. In one spot, alongside the creek, was a large clearing, completely surrounded by tall pussy willows. One day, upon arriving to play at our “secret spot” we realized there was a wonderful white coating on the ground. Several pussy willows had opened up and their fluffy white seed pods had scattered about. Where the seeds had fallen in clumps, the seeds took on the appearance of fluffy clouds. Heidi and I decided to cover our entire area in “fluff” so that we could play like we were in the clouds.
Our clouds were amazing! So amazing, that we deemed our “newly-renovated secret spot” ~ heaven. We enjoyed playing on our clouds and pretending we were with angels in heaven. It was a wonderful dreamland. Sure, the physical place was real, but everything else, we had created in our minds. Is it so different to create in our subconscious or in our awakened state? Can we make our dreams come true? And wouldn’t you want an opportunity to make your dreams come true? Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” In the beauty…of their dreams.
There is something so beautiful about dreaming. Dreaming can bring hope and inspiration. Dreaming can transport us from harsh realities to a more peaceful place. Dreaming can also help us visualize what we want our book to be about. Every great idea first started with a picture in a mind. Dreams help us visualize and birth our ideas, our future, and our successes. What do you want your soul to write about you? My challenge for you, is to purposefully start dreaming. Dream for dreaming’s’ sake. Just dream. What does your heart desire? Tell your soul…. Let’s make it happen!
A few years back, a friend of mine was showing me pictures of her dog and I couldn’t help but notice in each one, Mike, (her yellow lab) looked like he was having the “best day ever.” There was a picture of Mike, watching for my friend to drop a piece of popcorn from her bowl- the look on his face- best day ever. There was a picture of Mike on the boat, sitting on the ice chest, tongue hanging out- best day ever. Picture after picture, Mike looked like he was having the best day ever! What Mike may not be aware of is that he has a growth that could take his life sooner than anyone would want- especially for my friend (Mike is her child). Still, Mike goes on, everyday like it is the best day ever. My friend could put Mike through chemo, but the chances of it diminishing Mike’s quality of life are so great, and he lives life so fully, that she can’t do that to him. She has resolved that she would rather know that Mike lived life, everyday, like it IS the best day ever. And if Mike knew his fate? I believe Mike would still live everyday full of love and joy. So how do we live a life, even faced with adversity, like it is the best day ever? I’d like to propose some helpful tips:
1. BELIEVE- Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Seems pretty basic, but in a world full of negativity, it is not so easy. If you stub your toe getting out of bed and you believe it is the pre-cursor of bad to come…guess what….it will! Believe that today is your day to hang your head out the car window with your tongue catching the air….like Mike….best day ever!
2. EMBRACE WHAT YOU HAVE- You may not have much or you may have it all. Embrace what you do have, even if that is simply you are alive one more day to make a difference in the world. Don’t think of what others have that you do not. If you have the world, embrace the opportunities that are there for you to seize and be a blessing to someone else. For Mike that may be realizing he has a tail he can chase endlessly, having a blast- the joy he brings to those watching is priceless!
Don’t focus on piles of debt or health issues, think instead and embrace the fact that you have another chance….every day you awake to have the best day ever!
3. BE KIND- Many of us grew up with the Golden Rule- “Do unto others, as you would want others to do unto you.” But do we really live that?! It’s amazing how just a smile can be such an impactful act of kindness. Saying good morning, opening the door for someone, or telling someone to have a nice day. Think of yourself as the tail-wagging yellow lab, full of joy, the Walmart greeter of your world! You’d be amazed at how quickly kindness spreads and you find yourself having the best day ever!
4. GRATITUDE- Mike is happy when he gets his belly rubbed, when anyone walks in the room, when he passes gas and everyone has to vacate the room, when he’s at the ball game chasing anything and everything, and every moment he is alive.
We have so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of adversity, although it may be hard to see. Say thank you, to yourself, to others, to the world around you. Be genuinely and outwardly grateful and I guarantee, this will turn inward and you will have the best day ever!
It has been said that "the world is your oyster." It therefore stands to reason, that the value of the pearl is determined by you! Your pearl, is not a pre-determined value, limited to your environment, your experience, your education, your family, your pedigree, etc. The value of your pearl is vast and limitless. Imagine for a moment you are the subject of a MasterCard commercial. It would go something like this:
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.