In his article, (Un)Common Traits of Creative People, author Dean Rieck states that “Creativity is really just a matter of how you approach things. It’s how you act or react to new circumstances. Your proclivity to look at things in a different way, To question. Experiment.” He goes on to suggest that we “Think of creativity like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it gets. To increase your creativity, you simply need to act in creative ways and do what other creative people do”.
So, what do creative people do? They…
~ Have the courage to try new things, while risking failure. ~ Use intuition, as well as logic, to produce ideas. ~ Like to play. Humor and fun are the ultimate creative act. ~ Express what they feel and think. ~ Find order in confusion and discover hidden meanings in information. ~ Motivate themselves by tasks, rather than by external rewards. ~ Explore solutions to challenging problems. ~ Challenge assumptions and ask hard questions. ~ Connect old ideas with new insights. ~ Push the envelope to expand the boundaries of what is possible. ~ Test new ideas, and compete with others, based on results. ~ Watch how other creative people solve problems.
I thought this was an uberly fantastic and creative idea by Volkswagen in Stockholm, Sweden. They have created a site called Rolighetsteorin.se or www.thefuntheory.com. The site features several videos all dedicated to the idea that "fun" is the easiest way to get people motivated to change. The three videos that are up there so far show how to make people not FAIL when putting litter in a bin, How to get more people to take the stairs than the escalator, and a teaser video of how to make recycling more fun.
"The campaign has just started up with a number of experiments in which the theory—that fun can change people's behavior—is tested in various situations," says DDB Stockholm creative director Andreas Dahlqvist. One of the most charming tests is a staircase in a Stockholm subway station that was converted into working piano keys—a way to convince commuters to take the stairs over the escalator. Another test uses sound effects to make throwing rubbish away properly a cartoon-like experience.
The Piano staircase resulted in a 66% increase in people taking the stairs than the escalator, and the fun noise making little bin resulted in about a 70% increase in litter in the bins!!
At 25, Lance Armstrong was the world's top-rated cyclist. Then he underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor and testicular cancer. Doctors gave him a 50% chance of survival. After he recovered one doctor admitted that he'd only given Armstrong a 3% chance. When asked if the rigors of cancer treatment had depressed him he said, "No, I thought being depressed would be detrimental. It was a very positive time in my life."
From then on Lance wanted something more; he wanted to race again which wouldn't be easy to say the least. At one point in his come back he actually quit right in the middle of a race, something he'd never done before. But he came back from that setback and went on to win, not one, but seven consecutive Tour de France races (1999-2005). An extraorindary feat and comeback! After winning his first Tour de France, he said, "If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you've got to go all the way." He shared something else which I thought very profound ~ "Without faith we're left with nothing but an overwhelming sense of hopelessness every single day, and it will beat you. I didn't fully see until the cancer, how we fight every day against the creeping negatives of the world, how we struggle daily against the slow lapping of cynicism. Dispiritedness and disappointment, these are the real perils of life, not some sudden illness."
Recently while on a visit to Seattle (Bainbridge Island), I went to THE BEST toy store on the planet, The Calico Cat http://www.calicocattoys.com/contact2.htm. I was there for over 2 1/2 hours and my friend and her 11 and 13 year old boys had to drag me out of there!! Anyway while there I saw the coolest version of one of my favorite childhood books, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It's a tale about a stuffed rabbit who belongs to a little boy. He wants to be Real, but doesn't quite know what that means. So one day he asks the Skin Horse, "What is REAL?" The Skin Horse replies that when a child "REALLY loves you, then you become real." I think the Rabbit's next question is even more telling, "Does it hurt?"
In our culture, "Keep it real" has become a popular catch-phrase. But how often do we actually do it? How often are we truly real, authentic, open, and honest with people? As the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit, "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby." When we're real with people, we have to take off that glossy, air-brushed exterior we like to show the world. Being real means we have to let stuff we aren't proud of hang out, let the pain and the brokenness be seen by someone else. When we're living authentically, we let people see beneath the surface of our lives to the bumps, bruises, tears, and stains.
The story continues on that the Rabbit "wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him." Like the Rabbit, I think we're all afraid of the price of being Real. But there's also hope, because the thing that transforms us from the way we are into REAL is love. And the Skin Horse assures us that "once you are Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
The process that the Rabbit must go through to become REAL is a lot like the process Believers go through called "Sanctification." We are justified and saved (legally declared innocent) when we accept Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Once this happens we start the process of sanctification, which means becoming more and more like Christ. It's a hard process, and it's definitely not comfortable, but the results are eternal. As our lives begin to reflect Christ's life more and more, we become more and more the way God intended us to be. And as this happens and we find our identities in Christ alone, we actually become more REAL in our everyday lives. If we're becoming what God intended and find our identity in Christ alone, then we don't have to worry about whether the cool and popular people like and accept us. As we are sanctified, we are freed to live life in an open, honest, authentic, and REAL way.
The boy did love the Rabbit until he became REAL. And thankfully God will love us until we are holy, sanctified, and real.