Be bold, Be brave and Be the Lion within yourself!

 
 

It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back and with this post I want you to gain courage so that you can "just do it"! It would be awesome if you could be or become brave enough so that you are able to face any challenge ahead of you! Ok granted, I don’t want to start a new sports brand, but in this specific post I do want to outline one of the most crucial behaviors in creativity and innovation. It is all about being brave and dealing with the unknown. Don't chicken out, but be the lion within yourself. This is the only way for you to discover unprecedented grounds and gain new experiences.

That said, this is also not a post to encourage stupidity as that will get you nowhere. It is all about becoming more comfortable with ambiguity because pushing the envelope and trailblazing can be daunting, but it is so rewarding and enriching!

When you are in a situation of ambiguity, insecurity will creep up on you at one stage. It is extremely skilled and it has got a knack of overwhelming you when you least expect it. It will relentlessly pursue to make a successful coup over your emotions and consequently your actions. You will not see it coming and it will take you by surprise. 

It is nothing more than a power play and it will not hesitate to leverage its strongest asset/ally – FEAR - because it wants full control over your emotions and your behavior. It’s more of internal mental battle than anything else and if you let it take over control, the fear will devour you and you’ll end up becoming your own biggest enemy. Don’t expect mercy from it. It is ruthless and will create all sorts of rationales that your inner voice is eager to preach to you, merely with the purpose to feed the fear. The moment it starts to gain ground over your mind, the physical effects will become noticeable. All the nerves in your body will tighten up, your heart rate will go up and you might even start to blush or to sweat. The end goal: complete immobilization.  

Boom - now your stuck and inertia is a fact. It ensures you to stay within your comfort zone. At this point you’ll get a sense of security & safety and as a result your heart rate will go down again and it’ll feel like it was the right thing to do. This perverse sense of positive self-reinforcement is what makes it a tricky adversary. It sparks fear & doubt and suddenly it is capable to make it disappear and make you feel comfortable again. Your inner voice, driven by fear, seems to have the knowledge and answers to all situations. The ugly truth, however, is that it just stops you from growing and enriching your life. It does so by creating a false sense of security!

But hey, now that you are aware of it, you can face it and you’ve taken the first step towards winning this mental battle. Once you can identify its modus operandi and understand how it kicks in, you will be in a position to remain in control and avoid that you become your own worst enemy. Fear and insecurity can and should always be faced firmly as it reduces the richness in your own life and it blocks you from thinking clearly.

Something to think about for the future: whenever you are too comfortable, you should get uncomfortable! And I love following quote as it reminds me that fear is a blocker in our lives and inhibits us to live it to the full potential. "FEAR is temporary, regret is forever" - unknown.

How can I turn into my lion(ess)-mode?

Well you can get there by trying one thing everyday that scares you. Let me explain you why:

  • It rewires your brain to become braver: Eventually, you will notice that this so-called fears are illusions & blockers and it's at that point that your brain will be rewired to become more comfortable with the unknown. It will enable you to become “comfortably lost” within any given situation so that you can just go with the flow. You are basically giving your brain a new software update by training it and creating the habit of being comfortable with ambiguity.

Generally speaking, we tend to be control freaks – and yes, yours truly is one of them as well – but by letting go of control, things will happen and magic will flourish. When you try new things that scare you, watch-out that you don’t start overly ambitious because there is a risk that it’ll backfire which will only strengthen your fear and condition you to surrender to it. So start by taking baby steps and you’ll notice that you’ll grow bolder over time. For instance, next time you go to the restaurant, let the waiter make a suggestion and go along with it (except for allergies!). You’ll find out that you would actually discover new dishes & flavors, perhaps ending up with a new favorite dish. Or talk to a stranger and listen to that person’s story. You’ll discover how interesting people are and how our initial assumptions & judgments about that person are completely wrong and biased. Again, why are we like that? Well when we were kids, we were always warned not to talk to strangers and fear was the key instigator of this behavior. I’m not saying that we don’t have to be careful, but the flip-side is that it screws up your ability to expand your thinking as well! Another easy baby-step would be to let faith decide your next holiday destination. Give faith a little hand by putting each country you want to visit on separate post its and put them on a wall. Throw a dart (assuming you are not a professional dart player that would be able to skillfully choose the destination)  - or a sticky ball - and pick the location the dart landed on for your next holiday destination. You’ll feel very quickly that by starting small, you’ll grow your personal confidence, which in return will allow you to go bolder next time.

  • It increases freshness and brings an abundance of new & fresh experiences, points of views, insights, emotions, trust, perspectives etc in your life. All of these will further expand your thinking beyond imagination and will fuel up your creative juices & behaviors. Just for a second, think about how often you take a different road going to work? I bet you that most of you will say:  “Uhm, I take the fastest road to work”. That’s exactly how we have been raised - to be efficient, to not waste any time! Well newsflash, you’re missing out on a lot of things. By doing this, we actually go into autopilot and even miss out things on the way to work. How often does it happen to you that suddenly you arrived at your destination without actually remembering the journey? Now shift yourself to a situation when you were driving around in an area you were not familiar with. Your vision was stimulated to be a lot more alert, your awareness level was going through the roof and you were fully in the now/in the moment! Get your awareness level on steroids and you’ll discover new things like restaurants, bars, shops,…. etc. You might even discover things you didn’t notice or knew before because you were blind. In other words, freshness keeps you sharp and trains you to re-open your eyes, look at things differently and to be receptive for new experiences & external impulses all over again.
  • Last but not least, it unlocks the real potential of your gut feeling. The moment you’ll become more comfortable with ambiguity, you’ll strengthen or regain the trust in your gut feeling. This is important as it allows you to tap into your intuitive thinking powers, which in return will prevent you from over-analyzing stuff. In the fast paced world we live in, it’s becoming harder and harder to know all the facts before taking decisions. Therefore, it’s important to train and grow your intuitive thinking & decision skills. As a result you’ll do more, get more done, grow the number of experiences, enrich your life and become “inertia allergic”!

All of these are important for creativity and innovation. Believe me, there will be moments where you feel like you are completely out of your comfort zone, but hey that is ok! As indicated earlier, it’s the zone where magic happens and life becomes richer.

Will it always work? No! Sometimes you will fail, but so what. You’ve tried and created an opportunity to learn and grow! Good for you! If you allowed your fear to take control, you would never learn as all attempts would be blocked. If this doesn’t help, think about following quote & motto I created for myself a long time ago – a time of trouble where I definitely needed it to keep me going: “Shit happens, but remember that shit is a fertilizer - Niels Chabot” !

So next time you do something and it is slightly off what you are used to, remember, your brain will try to fight you and make you feel uncomfortable. Accept that it will happen, put it in perspective and pursue what you initially wanted to do. Stand tall, be brave and just do it! You have only to gain as you’ll grow richer, you’ll become more resilient and it will gear you up to make a real impact in whatever you do!

Oh on a side note, whilst I was writing this blog on the plane, Erin from Canada was sitting next to me. I didn’t know her at that point, but she read a few lines of my post and reached out to me! It turns out that we had a lot of common interests and it was a pleasure meeting her! Really cool of her that she did this! Besides gaining a connection, we can further stay in touch to share our passions & help each other grow.

As always, I would love to hear/read your stories on how you’ve overcome and conquered some of your fears. In the end, we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

In the meantime, go and use your creative juices and increase your impact!

 

 

 

© Niels Chabot, Nutz & Creative

 

The Quest for your Creative MoJo – the awakening!

 

Creative MoJo

 

If I ask you: “who are the most creative people you know?” I’m sure you’ll come up with a handful of people. But why does it seem to be limited to only a happy few? What are the skills they seem to master better than anybody else? Let’s begin to scratch the surface and to identify a really important reason why creativity seems to be rare.

Going back to the initial question, there is a group of people we all know to be extremely inventive and above all, each individual possesses unlimited resources of creativity. To nobody’s surprise these are children.

Kiss the frog into a prince

If you think back to your childhood, some sweet memories will return. They are sweet, because in your own mind everything was possible when you were a kid. There were no constraints in your thinking, allowing you to pursue your dreams and to be whoever you wanted to be. Heck, you were able to fly or to change the frog into a prince. Conventional thinking was absent and without boundaries in your thinking process you were able to create your own little fantasy world. In that world, the line between reality and fiction was very thin and you were able to easily switch between both.

Story time:

It’s summertime and the weather outside is gorgeous. It’s perfect for your little boy – who’s about 4 years old – to learn how to ride a bike. So you go to the store and ask the store manager for advice about safety and to show you the most popular models. After some consideration you decide that only the best bike would be appropriate for your kid because you don’t want to be labeled as cheap or be perceived as an unconsidered parent for such an important gift (by the way a nice example of social judgment driving your purchase behavior).

You want it to be a surprise so you ask the store manager to put it into a big box, gift-wrap it and finish it off with a nice, big ribbon. The store has gone the extra mile in gift-wrapping the present and it just looks amazing. A rush of impatience kicks in because you are so eager and curious to see your boy’s reaction and to witness his first attempts to ride this beautiful bike.

When you arrive at home, you try to sneak in the house to surprise the little one. Unfortunately, the gift isn’t actually that subtle and hard to hide, so before you even get to the front door, the kid is already outside and his eyes are filled with excitement. Oh yeah, they must have spider senses when it comes down to receiving presents… You witness the kid's patience to gradually vanish – just like snow melting in the sun – and so you decide to give him the present. After all, it is to be used outdoors.

It’s a big and daunting box, but it stands no chance. The curiosity and excitement inspires the little one to frantically unpack the gift. The ribbon flies through the air and the paper wrapping gets shredded into little pieces. The unwrapping intensity is just insane and takes up so much energy from the boy that you hear him gasping to air.  Suddenly a brief pause occurs. You notice a slight hesitation as he has come to the final stage – the ‘unboxing’ of the present. Slowly the box is opened and it reveals its well-kept secret. The beautiful bike appears.

The moment he takes the bike out of the box, a feeling of contentment washes you over. Everything is going according to plan and your excitement increases. The imagined visions of the kid’s first ride attempts return and fill up your mind. But then, all of a sudden, something unexpected happens. It perplexes you completely and you can’t believe what you are witnessing! The kid puts the bike aside and takes off with the box…!? Totally dumbstruck, you witness how the kid plays with the box rather than the bike. What the … just happened?! Flabbergasted, you wonder whether you purchased the right bike.

Let’s take a closer look:

undefined objects spark creativity

Here is what’s going on. The bike is a ‘defined object’. It’s exactly what it states – a bike, an object that helps you to go from A to B leaving little room for imagination. The box on the other hand is less defined and allows for infinite creations within the kids’ mind. It becomes a castle, a spacecraft, a ship, etc. Children don’t like to spend their time in a constrained and well-defined world because it limits their imagination. They rather spend time in a world they create themselves in which they can explore their dreams.  The un-defined box is just a trigger unleashing their creative juices and allowing them to create their own little world. Completely free from judgment, children are in a unique position to take chances and to pursue their creative thinking. They do it fearlessly and without thinking about the potential consequences.

I’m sure you have all witnessed or experienced a situation where the child embarrassed its parents only because he/she was unaware of what is socially acceptable. Without the filter of what is ‘socially correct or acceptable’, children are unconstrained in their thinking and they act according to their beliefs. That is why they will blurb out the truth sometimes leaving their parents red faced from embarrassment.  

Conformity impact starts at school

Many of us – as adults – seem to have lost the ability to use our imagination or to behave without constraints. Where did this go wrong? The answer is simple; we’ve been conditioned to squeeze “thinking and acting differently” out of our system. When we grew up, we were taught to listen and to follow rules – especially at school. Every exam we have taken only allowed for one correct answer – as if every problem in life only has one solution?! If your answer deviated from the teacher’s solution, you didn’t get the grades and so we basically got incentivized to slowly but certainly kill our creative thinking and to succumb to conformity.

The conformity pressure starts early in life and goes well beyond school. It is all around us and the impact it entails cannot be underestimated! Social judgment and expectation reinforces conformity. We often succumb to peer pressure because if we don’t, we feel insecure and a feeling of discomfort overwhelms us. To regain our comfort, it’s easy to accommodate to what others are expecting from us and not listen to our inner voice or our gut feel. It’s remarkable how easily we give into social pressure. Simple lab tests, led by Asch Solomon (already in 1950's), have proven the power of social pressure on our behavior and thinking. Consequently, we often betray our inner voice within our everyday life. If we don’t wear specific clothes, don’t speak the same language, don’t like or practice the same sports, are not aligned with the group thinking etc. social judgment ruthlessly kicks in, creates fear and pushes us to fit in and to conform! It suppresses every creative flavor within you and ensures that you alienate more and more from who you truly are. Social judgment is like a band-aid described in the previous post. It will often generate or enhance efficiency and will lead into the establishment of a social identity. Its impact is huge, because it is continuously self-incentivizing in order to ensure its existence. As a result, we are constantly bombarded by it and it’s no surprise that we have become more and more alike! It’s hard to escape it, but fortunately not impossible!

The awakening:

Take the red pill

Being aware of how we got to conform in the first place feels like the ‘red pill’ from the Matrix where Neo decided to see the truth allowing him to act and to change the world! Obviously, you always have a choice and can decide to take the blue pill, but remember, this will keep you enslaved to conformity! I refuse to believe that you want to pursue this path if you are reading my blog.

Find your inner child

So now that you have taken the red pill, it is time for you to “find your inner child”. It’s still within you, but it’s in a dormant state. Just wake it up!

The moment you have re-discovered it, your creative juices will flow again. You’ll be able to re-open your mind and explore untraveled paths of thinking. Your imagination and passion will kick through the roof and you will feel braver, bolder and more empowered to follow through your own thoughts and actions. Above all, you will (re-) gain confidence in trusting your inner voice and gut feel. It will be the start of a new and exciting journey in your life.

Being yourself will set you apart

Once you’ve re-ignited your inner child, you will no longer be powerless against social judgment. The control it has over you will gradually wear down allowing you to generate real impact and to make change happen!

"Who’s your daddy now social judgment?!" It’s your creative MoJo, fueled by your re-discovered inner child unleashing your creative juices. 

In my next post, I'll describe some of the characteristics and skills that will help you to unleash and to empower your inner child so that you can sparkle your creative juices. If you already have (re-)activated your inner child, I would love to hear your stories and the impact it generated within your life.

In the meantime, go and increase your creative success rate!

PS: just to re-assure you, the bike will be used and the kid will love it!

© Niels Chabot, Nutz & Creative