Amazed by people’s creativity

Last week was a busy week. Through it I learned so much- about people, about my own practice as a trainer/facilitator but the most remarkable,  amazing thing I witnessed was people’s natural ability and desire to be creative. It reaffirmed to me why I do my work and has encouraged me to develop a sharper focus in this area. Let me tell you more…

One session last week was based on the ideas in my book- Who says you’re not creative?  It was a new session with brand new exercises. One of these activities involved ‘big paint and big paper’. In my book I talk about ‘big pens for big ideas’ and this was a visual variation on that theme. I’ve been wanting to try this out in my workshops for a while but the opportunity had not arisen- until now.

Working in small groups, people were given big paint and big paper and freedom to create and explore in whichever way felt good for them. (They were given the option of creating around a theme- but they opted to go ‘freestyle’).

I equipped people with sponges and rulers to spread the paint but instead many of them dived straight in with their hands. They did hand-prints, hand-spreading, hand-glunking- (yes I just made that word up) it was fascinating and exhilarating to see. No one cared about the mess- they just got on with it and enjoyed it. Further into the session one group started picking up the paint and flicking it across the paper. How free is that?!

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I wanted the exercise to be creative and liberating and thought people might be slightly anxious or nervous. I was wrong. People more than welcomed the chance to play. ‘I haven’t painted since I was at school’ said one person.

There were different degrees of messiness but everyone engaged and made their own sense- or no sense – of the process. ‘This arrow is about direction and these shapes are about the different things I could do.’ Is that an abstract artist speaking? 

I should tell you they didn’t do this from ‘cold’. This exercise came after a morning of film making- but even so the intensity of creative energy that flowed still surprised me.

There were other more serious parts to the session including a question around blocks to creativity- this too was amazing. Some of the issues that came up were not to be found in text books on creativity so were a ‘real insight’ into how people felt. Some of the illustrations that accompanied the words were also fascinating.    

So what did I learn? I had a hunch that people wanted to play, be free, get messy, explore….for no apparent reason. I had a hunch that the painting exercise would be liberating- freeing in some way- and I think it was.  I also learned that people are far more ‘up for it’ than I had imagined. The desire to break out and break free- and be creative- is strong. I am so happy that this is the case!

I have a great belief in creativity- if that’s the right way of putting it. I believe it can be freeing, enjoyable, connective, stress-relieving, engaging, an alternative form of expression….so that session or rather the response from those fabulous people, reaffirmed my belief and has encouraged me to continue to create and design more inventive, playful workshops.

Thus far I have taught creative thinking tools but had a sneaky feeling there was something missing- I’ve now found that missing piece. My insight: in order to be free thinking – you have to first set yourself free. To be creative, I believe, you have to engage in the creative process.

If you need some new thinking and you want to work creatively- drop me a line. You and your people have so much potential- isn’t it time you tapped into it?

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