Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

#creativity #psychological safety #devotion #humbleness

In this charming 19-min piece the author of Eat, Pray, Love shares with us a couple of brilliant ideas about creative genius. For her, we’re all creative souls already, we just need to figure out how to harness inspiration and unleash the creative spirit within. As she says: “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person”.

So your task is to figure out what is that you really love more than yourself and without fearing failure, start making something with it. You’re not a genius, rather you have a genius, and this genius requires you to put a lot of work and care in it so that something can come out of it. This something can be great or less so, it doesn’t matter for now. Your part of the job is to work hard and diligently, the rest is someone else’s responsibility as it was conceived quite wisely by the ancient Romans and Greeks. If you have a creative mind, then you have to feed the animal within to keep your mental health intact otherwise if it has nothing to play with, it will turn on itself. So give your dog a job, and don’t worry about whether the outcome is magnificent or eternal, whether it changes people’s lives, whether it changes the world, whether it changes you, whether it’s original, whether it’s groundbreaking, whether it’s marketable. Just give the dog a job, and you’ll have a much happier life, regardless of how it turns out. Stop complaining and get to work.

Well, a little conversation with your fear when it starts to get riled up when you are trying to do something creative, would of course not hurt. However avoid going to war against it, because that’s anyhow would only be a waste of energy eating up your inner resources. Just converse a bit with your fear when it arises and then move on. Like, …..hey pal, I am about to accomplish this and this without freaking out, just simply putting some work into the idea, any objection?……… Similarly you also should not aim for perfection as it is the death of all good things: death of pleasure, productivity, efficiency and joy. Of course there’s nothing wrong with trying to make your work as good as it can be – but there’s a really big difference between “as good as it can be” and perfection!

Today’s workplace is abundant with those types of jobs, the specification of which require in the first place creativity (see the magic 4K skills for future jobs in my post here). So it’s time to embrace the attitude that in creative jobs frustration is not an interruption of the process, but it is the process itself! As Gilbert puts it: “You guys, you’re mistaking the whole process, because the thing that you’re in love with, and that you’ve gotten infatuated with, is that moment in your creative process when everything is working — all the cylinders are firing at full speed, and the inspiration is flowing, and it feels really easy, and it’s fun, and it’s delightful. And that’s the aberration. That moment of smooth, easy grace where everything is going great — that is not the normal. That is the miracle that happens every once in a while if you’re very lucky. The frustration, the hard part, the obstacle, the insecurities, the difficulty, the “I don’t know what to do with this thing now,” that’s the creative process. And if you want to do it without encountering frustration and difficulty, then you’re not made for that line of work.”

Gilbert also reveals how she began to comprehend the strange and unlikely psychological connection between the way we experience great failure and the way we experience great success. In both cases, it turns out that there is the same remedy for self-restoration: namely „you have got to find your way back home again as swiftly and smoothly as you can, and if you’re wondering what your home is, here’s a hint: your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.” This gives you the psychologial safety you need to keep your balance and mental health intact. So if you haven’t done it already, go and find what your real love and motivation is, i.e. dig down deep and identify your core which gives you safety regardless of whether the outcome guarantees success to you or not. „And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then your job is to fight your way back to that home by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next”. It is humbleness that gives you the strength you need to survive and to move forward.

So, guys, let’s all of us have a nice journey full of creativity!