So my wife is an elementary school teacher and over the years I would always find a reason to go into her classroom and to share or to talk with the kids. And when I was there I would ask this question, you know. "How many of you guys can draw?" And every kid would raise his or her hand. "How many of you can sing?" And again, uniform response. And the younger the kids, if they were in kindergarten and you say, "How many of you can sing?" They would all raise their hands and actually start to sing. And it was so much fun. And as I started to teach at the college level, which I did for over a dozen years, I would ask those questions to my students as well. "How many of you can draw?" And usually it was one maybe two students who would raise his or her hand. "How many of you can sing?" Usually no one. And I always wondered like why, what was the difference? What went wrong? What happened there? And for a long time I thought the solution was just that, you know, when we're kids we're more ...
creative. As we grow up we become more comparative, more evaluative. I think that's part of it. You know, as we grow up we think, "How many of you can draw well? "How many of you can sing well?" So we're adding this layer into the equation. Kids don't have that. But I also started to realize that it's something else. It's more than that. What tends to happen with things like drawing and singing is that our education, well it stops right around the age of 12 or 13. That's when our technique and our expertise just it kind of plateaus. In other words, if we stop learning how to draw, if we stop taking art classes, we feel like we aren't any good 'cause we haven't moved ahead. And part of getting more creative isn't just being free and being a kid. Of course that's a lot of it right? You know, Picasso said it well that all kids are artists. The trouble is to remain one as we grow old. Yes, definitely. We have to maintain some of that childlike creativity, but we also have to have the chops, right? We gotta put in the effort so that we have the technique in order to be creative and expressive and to have that skill. I like how Sir Richard Branson put it. He said, "You know, it's foolish not to become an expert at our passions." We have to gain expertise at these things if we wanna have a certain level of creativity. So how do we do that? Well often people will say, "You gotta put in the 10,000 hours." And while the 10,000 hours is probably true, it's overwhelming to someone who's just starting out. The 10,000 hours only makes sense after you've passed them and you're looking back. If you're looking ahead, it just feels like I'll never get there. Like how am I gonna play the piano or practice the piano for 10,000 hours? Or how am I gonna get the time to put in 10,000 hours at being a better photographer? That's gonna take me 10 years. That's an impossible task, so why will I even start? And the way that we start with technique isn't by thinking about this massive amount of thing that we have to do. It's the same way with exercising right? If you're gonna train for a marathon, well you start by jogging a few laps and then you build up from there. And so what I want you to do today, in order to become more creative, isn't just to expand your mind and be more of a kid. Yeah, do some of that. But then also schedule time to practice and hone your craft. Pick something that you wanna get better at. Photography, piano, poetry. I don't care what it is. And then say, "Okay, this week "I'm gonna put in five minutes, three different times." And commit to that, come what may. Make that a priority And if you can put something as, or make it a priority and put in the time, what you'll see is that slowly you'll get better at that craft. Eventually, you'll get so good that the technique won't matter at all so that you can be expressive in what you do. And so take those little small steps. Also, how can we dig deeper into this whole thing? I wrote down a few books here in my journal that I wanna share with you. One of 'em's called The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. This is all about the craft and art of writing. If you wanna become a good writer, well read from a writer how she talks about her own craft. Or find some book in your space, whatever it is, where someone talks about the process and the mechanics, and the techniques involved in getting better at that thing. Another book I wrote down is called The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Twyla Tharp, the amazing dancer and choreographer. Here she talks about this idea that creativity isn't something that just happens spontaneously, but you have to build in these habits, right? Repetitive habits that open you up to the possibilities at hand. So in your pursuit, in our pursuit for becoming more creative, ask yourself, "How can I carve out some time "in order to practice and refine my technique and craft?" And do so today, this week, this month, and this year.