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

 

Why so Serious?! How fun boosts your Creative MoJo

 
 

Life in general tends to be very serious and often we are required to behave in a serious way. However, when you want to spice up and activate your creative juices, fun is of the essence. It will activate your inner child that in return will take your creative abilities to new levels. In this post, I’ll be describing some actions and behaviors that will help you to unleash and empower your inner child so that your creative confidence gets magnified.

Don’t worry – be happy!

Smile and keep it up! Your life will immediately feel its positive power and impact.

Q: Hang on chief, creativity is serious stuff, so why is this so important in generating ideas?
A: Good question! In a nutshell, being happy and keeping up a smile alters your thinking as well as your behavior. They re-wire your brain and bring you in a positive state of mind that is required to feed your creativity. They enable you to look at things in a more constructive and collaborative way so that ideas get nurtured and build. Last, but not least, they make you more socially liked – which is always good right?

Q: Uhm, care to elaborate?
A: Of course. Obviously, you can only have fun when you are in a happy state of mind. As a result, you’ll laugh a lot more and it is exactly that what triggers several things to happen within our body and minds. Let’s get a little scientific here. Just like physical activity, laughter increases the release of endorphins in your brain.

Q: Ok doc, what does that mean?
A: Endorphins are neurotransmitters, in other words; awesome messengers within our nervous system. They ensure the body to receive the right set of information.

Q: Sounds great, but what’s the effect?
A: Well, an increase in the level of endorphins decreases the feeling of pain and will fight off any negative effects of stress. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria and will increase your energy as well as your confidence level.

Q: Ok chief, but how does this help us in becoming more creative and generating ideas?
A: Aha, remember that your inner child thrives when it has no boundaries and can explore endless possibilities. By reducing your stress levels, you will feel more confident and comfortable to explore new domains and to tap into your creative juices. As a result the doors to your creative thinking will open up.

Q: Cool, but what about being more socially liked?
A: Ok, let me answer this one with a question. Who would you feel most comfortable approaching – somebody that is laughing and smiling or somebody that is frowning or looking angry? I guess that‘s a fairly easy one to answer as the latter just creates distance between people. So on top of it changing your mindset and behavior, through smiling you’ll be perceived as more likable and people will feel more comfortable to approach you and to work with you. It is no surprise why comedy shows put laugh tracks over the audio because it invites and stimulates the viewers to join and participate ‘unconsciously’ in the atmosphere created by the show. Also, have you ever tried not to smile back to somebody who was genuinely smiling to you? You’ll find it hard not to reciprocate this gesture with a smile of yourself.

Q: Interesting stuff! Are there any quick & practical tips I can take forward?
A: YES you can and you can start now! 

Whilst the brain tricks us in how we perceive the world around us – by altering our memories and creating hidden biases – it’s great to know that you can turn the tables. It has been proven that you can trick the brain to get you in a state of happiness. Although the brain can change your memories, they are actually one of the strongest allies in the pursuit to that state of happiness. Just by tapping into memories and thinking back about the happiest moments in your life, your brain will rewire itself on the spot. Close your eyes and bring that great memory to life by visualizing it and by leveraging all of your senses so that you capture every detail as well as all the related emotions. This will ensure you to fully re-live the fabulous past experience and before you know it, a smile will appear upon your face and good feelings will embrace you.

Once you know the drill you can use more recent examples and increase the frequency so that your state of happiness endures and becomes habitual. You can do this by recognizing and remembering the positive daily moments you’ve experienced. Additionally, you can stimulate it by doing good things for others. Besides the fact that this boosts your happiness, it also creates and nurtures relationships.  Obviously, the most powerful generators to a happy state of mind are those that are truly genuine, but that said, the brain can be tricked artificially into the state of happiness. Just by putting your facial muscles into a smile position will do the trick. In order to do so, you can put a pencil in your mouth for some time and you will find that your brain will be primed to believe it is happy. As a result, your happiness level goes up! (Strack 1988). A very practical quick fix, but one that does the job.

There are other simple daily acts you can practice; say hi and smile to a stranger (though caveat, take into account cultural differences), reach out to somebody that you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time, notice something nice and positive about somebody else – hair, clothes, behavior, etc – and say it to the person. You’ll notice how quickly this will positively impact your own life! A happy state of mind drives multiple positive things:

  • your energy level goes up
  • your confidence level goes up
  • your likability goes up and as a result you’ll create more & better relationships
  • oh yes, it reduces the negative effects of stress and apparently also improves your immune system (nice bonus) 

All of these combined will fuel your creativity! So, it should be clear that there is no excuse for you to bail out on this and that you can gain a lot by starting now! You’ll quickly create the happy vibe around you and it will go beyond your expectations. Above all it will make your life nicer and more interesting. 

Who wouldn’t like to have fun and be in a state of happiness? Not only will it enhance your creativity, it will make your life richer and healthier at the same time.  

Play, play and… play 

Being playful generates fun and having fun is crucial for your creative mind as it also changes how you think and behave. Although it shares similar effects as being in a state of happiness, it adds some important elements that will further amplify your creative abilities by putting your mind in expansion mode.

Q: Oh, here we go again… mind in expansion mode? 
A: Exactly! By having fun, several things happen. First of all, it raises your energy level, which fully switches your brain on so that you are completely alert. Additionally, because you are having fun, you’ll feel more constructive rather than analytical and you are much more comfortable going with the flow. The latter is important as it reduces the barriers and hurdles that would stop you otherwise from pushing the boundaries or exploring new and different paths. This is key for your creativity as it opens up new worlds of thinking.

Q: Uhm? New worlds of thinking?
A: Ok, that’s purely metaphorical, but that said, your brain will be able to make leaps of thinking that would otherwise not have been possible as these thoughts might defy the rules of logic and as a result judgment could kick in and push your brain to revolt in pursuing these trains of thought. When you are having fun, your brain is not in a mode to analyze or to “over-think” the situation. It feels more comfortable to explore the new and different thinking and that’s exactly where the magic happens and where you’ll come up with new thoughts, ideas, connections and solutions. Said it differently, your brain is in expansion mode and it will create the opportunity for you to look at things from different perspectives and angles and to explore them without experiencing the constraints of judgment.

Q: Ok I get it chief; fun opens up the mind. Are there any other effects?
A: Oh yes. Besides expanding your thinking, keeping your brain sharp and on the edge, it also has a social effect. Playfulness increases social interactions as it lowers boundaries amongst people to get introduced to one another and to get to know each other better in a relatively ‘safe’ environment. It is relatively ‘safe’ because judgment is (or should be) pushed to an absolute minimum, which fosters the social interaction. Additionally, having fun creates an incredibly energetic atmosphere that people are happy to join. Last, but not least, when you are having fun, you loose track of time because you are fully “living in the moment”. Remember the expression – time flies by when you are having fun!

Q: Ok, got it. Any practical tips?
A: It’s important to acknowledge that playfulness to foster creativity is not about competitive playing! The latter would not stimulate your creative juices as it puts you in a serious mode and will immediately activate boundaries and judgmental thinking. So keep it light hearted. Enjoy whatever you do, fool around, don’t take yourself too seriously all of the time, play silly and short games with friends and/or strangers. Just have fun and allow this to take place at random. You can encourage this by having short games or practical jokes up your sleeve or by creating an environment around you that would stimulate playfulness – e.g. having bright colored walls to make the rooms different & playful, having cool hang-out places where people can catch up, having colored pencils & paper readily available for whatever purpose, going wild with play-doh, building something new with lego, building the highest card house together, holding a silly paper plane contest, etc.  

A positive state of mind and playfulness are both important elements in activating your creative juices. They both help to generate a positive spiral of creativity.

 
 

Besides the great impact they have on your creative MoJo, they positively affect your life in general!
As always, I’m eager to find out about your techniques and ways that keep you happy and/or that stimulate playfulness.

Use your creativity

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


© Niels Chabot, Nutz & Creative