Synchronicity and Flow

blue womanSynchronicity: simply defined as ‘meaningful coincidence.’

My earliest ambition was to be an artist but life and logic got in the way. Recently I set an intention to make time for this early dream. Since January this year, two hours a week have become two days a week in a dedicated space. ‘Chance meetings’ and an open mind have now manifested in an exhibition opportunity. Someone who usually took days to respond, responded instantly with a ‘Yes’.

After the initial excitement of this news I reflected on the other positives in my life and how much of this too was brought about being open to what may happen- those chance coincidences, those serendipitous moments.

My last blog talked of perhaps ‘not wanting to do it alone’. Since then four collaborative opportunities have come my way and I have said ‘Yes’ to two of them. My gut made the decision not my head.

My latest book project: I’m facilitating a book made up of contributions from people in the business world. My initial vision was for it to be a book of women’s writing but then, by happy coincidence, men drifted into my life and started talking about the subject of the book. They had to be invited to contribute so the project has now expanded itself as this is how it is meant to unfold and flow.

Making sense of it all. Often we can become fixed in what and how we do things. We can let our head rule and do what we think we ‘should.’ How we manage our diaries is a good example of this. How flexible are you? Do you ‘tune in’ and decide what’s right for you to do today- as opposed to what might or might not be in your schedule?

I’ve recently made a few last minute decisions which have put me just where I needed to be- to hear just what I need to hear. Last week at a conference I was reminded to ‘be open as to how you might achieve the goal you’ve set.’ Yesterday I heard a CEO talk of the “Power to Create” and how everyone has the right to a creative life. I had no idea that was coming- but it did and it was music to my ears. Moments like this keep you sane, keep you on your path.

Life isn’t always like this, but at the moment everything seems to be flowing, interweaving and creating new ways forward. Perhaps this is what being in your creative flow is…listening to yourself, listening to others, being aware, being present, being calm, being open, enjoying life and taking action.

The only thing is- this wonderful synchronicity and flow has brought with it a hefty to-do list. I’ve now got to make time to make them happen. I also know that some of them may not work out but that’s part of the deal too.  But every idea will of course teach you something or you will bring someone into your world that you’ll need for another project. So it’s all good.

Serendipity, synchronicity and flow- fabulous things. Keep you antennae up, listen to your heart and speak the language of your soul- even if it’s just to yourself.

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Can you do it alone?

At a networking event yesterday I was faced with the question ‘Can I do it alone? Do I want to do it alone?’

This question came from a respected source. This guy is successful. I call him an entrepreneurial ‘surfer’ as he rides on each new wave of whatever is looking to be big. He’s a true entrepreneur, slightly detached from any of his businesses, with the ability to spot an opportunity and use his business skills to pick it up and run with it regardless of previous knowledge.

I find the business world full of fascinating, inspiring, creative people with such a flair and passion for life and success.

But back to the question “Can I” and “Do I want to do it alone?” I’ve always assumed that I would do it alone. I’m one of those people who built a business based on passion+expertise. I was passionate about creative thinking and trained myself up so I could deliver the type of services needed.   It was natural for me to dive in on my own. I was also surrounded by other people who were doing it alone- so why not?

But you know- now the question’s been posed I’m thinking- wouldn’t it be great to share my ideas and enthusiasm with someone who would get equally excited? My own ‘Sparkler’ ( I mention Sparklers in my book). Picture6 Or how about someone who had more of a ‘commercial brain’ and could see the potential of my ideas and just help me put them out into the world in the right form at the right price. That would be most welcome.

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I’m a bit of an ideas person. This is both an asset and a liability. I make some of them happen but leave some of them on the shelf. Which ones remain on the shelf is not down to any robust business evaluation process, but just down to what’s going on generally at the time and how people might first react to the idea. If people are not as positive I would like, I withdraw and shelve it. The ‘sensitive creator’ in me gets hurt which is so not good business sense!

I think sometimes we have to open up about our limitations this is certainly one of mine. There is stuff I would love to do living only in my notebooks and my imagination.

The other thing to consider is the effort any idea needs to take to market and the impact of that on your everyday ‘proven’ work. New ideas need a lot of love and nurturing. They need time to get used to being out in the open, to acclimatise, to adapt to the new environment.  I have many gorgeous bulbs waiting to be planted and flower. I don’t know which ones people will like but I love them all equally.

Can I do it alone? Honestly the answer has to be no. I’m good at seeing opportunities, creating solutions and delivering but the bits in between I could do some help with. I would love someone to hop on board and say “Yes let’s do that one now as there’s a definite market need and then we’ll launch that one as it’s a natural fit…” I’d also like someone to say “Not sure about that one- let’s leave that on the shelf for now”.

How this might work I don’t know- but maybe I can leave the how to someone else too! I like to believe in a bit of magic, so if you’re out there and you get what I do, I’m here waiting for your call.

Creativity unleashed! Interior designer: John Jackson

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A few months ago I was invited in to Chwarae Teg to discuss revamping their offices. This wasn’t going to be a cosmetic revamp, but one that would make people think and work more creatively and collaboratively. It truly was about making Chwarae Teg a great place to work. It was also about putting into practice their thinking around modern working practices, which is replacing the work-life balance agenda.

As I listened to John talk about his vision for the office and the difference he wanted it to make to the way people worked, and felt about coming into work, it was obvious that rather than outsource the design work John could do it himself.

As well as having the underpinning knowledge of the Chwarae Teg brand, ethos and future direction, John has a great sense of colour and style.  I’d done an interior design diploma years ago so I showed John how to draw out his ideas for key parts of the office. I also suggested he start a mood board to collect samples, ideas and colours together.

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Today I had the pleasure of seeing the outcome.  I heard John explain the reason for each new addition to the office. The yellow type writer, in the new entrance space, not only looks cool and retro but is ‘a nod to the secretarial and clerical roles traditionally associated with women in the post war workplaces.’

Female carpenter, Phillipa Skinner was commissioned to create transparent screens that allow them to section off part of the office for training events.

   

They have hot seating for most of the staff and areas for ‘huggers’ who prefer the same space. Consulting with everyone in the team was a key part of the process. There is a vision board with the heading ‘Dream Office’ which everyone has contributed to. Now tell me one person who wouldn’t love to do this in their workplace?

Other features include a creative space, although I think the whole office encourages creativity, a ‘zen den’ for quiet time and  one to ones, and a hot desking area for female business start-ups.

Radically the ‘boss’, Joy Kent, doesn’t have an office of her own but hot desks too! Talking of the boss, it takes a certain kind of person to trust her staff with such a huge ‘outside-of- job-role’ task. Enlightened leaders know that their staff have a multitude of talents and it’s often a question of opportunity and permission to allow those talents to emerge- for the benefit of the organisation and the person themsleves.

The rewards for the organisation are exponential.  When people feel empowered and inspired they will contribute far more than their JD.  John was given the opportunity to access the interior designer within– just imagine what other talents lie within the rest of the Chwarae Teg team and where that will take the organisation?

The project is the subject of an academic study- so watch out for details when it’s complete.

I must admit I feel a little proud to have had an input into this- through a gentle nudge of encouragement.

Read more about the office revamp here.

 

Einstein: the scientist and the artist

Today I’m researching for a talk next week, on ‘Creativity in Business’. I could do something I’ve already done- but I prefer to put together something new. So I’m researching the creative icon that is Albert Einstein. I’m writing this blog mid-research- as I have had a jump out of your chair  “Yes!” moment. Do you have those?

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Albert Einstein is famously known for the quote “Imagination is more important than knowledge” but there is so much more to his thinking on creativity. As well as a scientist Einstein was an accomplished musician he played the piano and violin. This recording of Einstein playing Mozart has only recently been discovered.

Music played a significant role in his life. If he was stuck, he might play his piano and when finished, he’d often say “Now I’ve got!”. The playing of the piano not only allowed him to take his mind off ‘the problem’ but also stimulated his creativity in a wider sense. There is now evidence to suggest playing  music can increase your ‘intelligence’ and brain elasticity- which is a big part of creative thinking.

What was most interesting in all of this was also finding out that Einstein didn’t think in words- but in ‘images, feelings and musical architectures’.

“”I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in wordsafterwards” 

Just for a moment consider how our working practices, problem solving and decision-making are all based around words- either written or spoken.

Einstein is also big on intuition and inner knowing.

“All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration…At times I feel I am right while not knowing the reason”

Whilst I’m sure no business would object to an image of Albert on their wall- would they also welcome the use of ‘intuition and inner knowing’ as part of their regular business practice? Einstein is not only an icon for creativity but also for intuition in ‘the board room’.

The final nugget from my reading today Id like to share with you is this: ‘personal creativity enables professional innovation’. Wow!

So why did this research cause a Yes! moment?

I’m working on my own big idea at the moment, which is partly based on past experience, but largely based on intuition and inner knowing.  Firstly Einstein has just given me permission for this to be more than okay- thank you.

Secondly, and more significantly the subject of my big idea is relates to thinking through images. I’ve always had a strong feeling that people can have better ideas, express themselves more, be more creative and innovative if they just ditched words for a while and learned to access their own visual langauge.

There’s so much richness in the ‘right brain’ and I’m going to create a space for people to explore it, at a deeper level, in a buisness context. Can you imagine the potential? Today was one of those dots on my journey as I bring this idea into the world.

 

Read more about Einstein’s thinking here

 

 

Where’s the play-doh Prith?

Do you ever get off track?

Do you sometimes do what you think you should do rather than following your instincts?

Earlier this year I was commissioned to run a bespoke development programme. This was a big project and I was pretty excited. It would combine sessions on leadership, management, marketing, and creative thinking. The content was a great mix of my skills and knowledge base–what could go wrong?

After lots of preparation, I delivered the first session. It was packed full of content- lots of theory and exercises. I thought I had delivered a sound, well thought out session. The evaluation sheets were all positive but there was something in the air- something less tangible- perhaps voiced most succinctly in the comment “Where’s the play-doh Prith?”

In case you don’t know me, play-doh has become a bit of a trademark tool for me. I use it to help people think differently, to rekindle some of that gorgeously innocent childhood sense of creativity and imagination.

The comment :”Where’s the play-doh Prith?” was really asking– Where were you in all of that content?  Where was the creativity? As I realised this, indeed as I write it now, my heart sank. I was trying so hard to deliver a ‘good’ management workshop I had succumbed to convention and lost my essence. Regardless of what I was teaching- it should have been inspiring, fun and creative- because that’s what I/my work is about.

Everything happens for a reason. The huge lesson I learned that day? Be you!

People don’t buy what you’re selling- they buy you and the way you do things. You might also want to add ‘why’ you do what you do- Simon Sinek.

It’s so important to recognise and value ‘your essence’- your USP if you like.

My question for you: Do you know why people do business with you? Why do they pick you over everyone else?

If not, take some time out and get clear on it. Don’t be afraid to ask people.  Once you’re clear- draw a picture of it, write it on a post-it note, do whatever you have to do – then put it somewhere prominent. Use it as your compass, your guide and add a huge splash in to everything you do.

How does the story continue you might be wondering?

I wanted to turn this around so the next session was going to have major creative input from me! I was going to do it my way. As well as having great content I wanted people to leave the session  feeling good, energized, excited and motivated – these were my new training objectives. It also, somehow, had to include play-doh!

Thinking through clay                Play-doh people

As you can see not only was play-doh woven into the session- we also had music and dancing!  (Yes we’re still talking management). We started and ended the session with Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’.  Did anyone get up and dance with me at 9.30 in the morning? Of course they did- the senior managers no less!

I felt good- they felt good- my world was now much better- happy in fact! The waters were flowing. I made a silent promise to myself- not to fall into the trap of convention again.

In words of Oscar Wilde:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

 

P.S. Sometimes it’s hard to share moments of non-brilliance- but then that’s all part of the journey….and the learning can take us to new places.

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?

A Rush of Creativity

A rush of creativity since the launch

Since the book’s been launched part of me has been eagerly awaiting responses from people but another part of me has allowed myself to ride on the wave/ vibe of my book launch and see where it takes me. I have experienced a huge rush of creativity and it feels amazing!

I’ve been working on ‘Break out Break free’  which is almost formed, so I shall be emailing out invitations for the pilot workshop soon(some scribbles on this below). More recently another idea has floated in…’Dare to Dream’.

Big pens for big ideas!

Big pens for big ideas!

The Process of Creativity

The process by which ideas are coming in is also interesting. In addition to my conscious scribbling in ‘work hours’ there is some night-time stuff happening too!

It might be the hot weather, but over the past 2 weeks I have developed a little pocket of work time, which is probably around 4-6am, where I have the most amazing thoughts, visualisations and conversations with myself. Well I did say in the book “Make the most of sleepy states” so here I am – my body and mind doing just that. Playing around with fuzzy ideas and then letting them take shape in this deeply relaxed state.

I have worked on the detail of a workshop I’m doing in Brighton in October- in particular visualising the all important opening. I’ve worked on a 3 hour Dare to Dream workshop which I have also presented to a whole audience from the stage! That was a tiring night!

Making use of my creativity ‘Sparklers’

Obviously not all my ideas are good ones, so I usually discuss them with trusted ‘Sparklers’. Dare to Dream has had 2 positive responses from people from the corporate and business world:  “We never give ourselves permission to dream and it’s difficult to make time in a life which is just full of stuff to do. Having a dedicated space would be great- do it!”.

So I’m going to trial this soon- Saturday morning- August 24th – in fact. Email me if you want me to post you details. Just as an inventor creates prototypes I create short pilot sessions, at a low ticket price, to test my ideas too.

On a conscious level I’m questioning myself- should I really be trying to implement all this new stuff- is it shiny penny syndrome? As well as my core work of running monthly Innovation workshops and my new Creative Mastermind Group,  this is a lot more new stuff to be developing and ‘getting out there.’

But some of this stuff I feel in my belly – so it has to be done! They are so exciting they need to be given a space to breathe and take shape. They may or may not work but if I run them as pilot sessions, at a super-low ticket price, then I can have fun with them and explore their potential.

As for my current process of creativity, I’ll run with it for now, always keeping a book by my bed. I do think however it is passing, as the nights draw in and we ‘go back to school’ in September my body clock may revert to more traditional working hours. (But you never know!)

P.S Comments on the book welcome.

You can buy the book ‘Who says you’re not creative?’ on Amazon