Creativity and the Human Condition

I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers.”   (I loved it!  I love him! Did I tell you that a few times already?!!) This book focuses on the reasons people are successful, or not. It seems culture, and where/when you grew up, might really play a part, and there is nothing wrong with that! Because I love to learn about successful people and the creative potential of the mind, I read a lot of business books, biographies and lots of things about the human condition.  This book is worth a read.

My favourite quote in the book is “Achievement= Talent and Preparation“.  I think if more people knew and believed this, the creativity in the world might explode.  It seems it is not just down to sheer talent alone.  Right, now our lone excuse (I’m not talented enough) goes right out the window!  Great stuff!  It is time to take responsibility and Just Do it.

That’s the secret, isn’t it. If you, like me, want to be a successful writer/artist/poet/songwriter/screenwriter or whatever else it is that you dream of being, we have to TAKE ACTION.

Finding the ideas is the easy part. Making the time for the work is far more difficult. The only difference then between those that are successful and those that are not, is that the successful ones set their goal and every single day, put their attention and focus and time into doing the things that would help them reach their goals.  Every day.  I sit at the computer and write, regardless of whether my inspiration is shining or not. I just write.

I’ve always suspected that if we could find that pocket of creative thought in our bones, (we all have it somewhere) and stop wishing and hoping but instead, gave it time, and lessons, and lots of hours practice (all of which would protect the flame), one day we’d wake up and realise that our creative dream had COME TRUE!!   We might not be Lady Gaga but we would be singing for our supper!!

Malcolm also spoke about a type of school in America, the KIPP initiative .  I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of it but gee I like some of what they are doing.

One thing really struck me, because it is something for all, not only for struggling school students or disadvantaged children.  We could all do better in life with this little hint up our sleeve.

Here it is:  The SSLANT Protocol.
Sit up
Ask questions
Nod when spoken to
Track with your eyes

Simple, isn’t it.   Last week, I was talking to a doctor whose children attend two (the boy and girl versions) of the most posh schools in my town.  He shared a story of the moment he was most impressed, the instant that he and his wife knew they had made the right schooling choice for their family.

“I went to pick up my little boy, who was in Prep at the time.  All the small boys were lined up outside their classroom, with their boater hats on.  The teachers told them that once they saw their parents arrive, they were dismissed for home. My son saw me, and so he walked over to his teacher, took off his boater hat, shook her hand and said goodbye, and then walked over to greet me.   In that moment,  I knew he’d be all right in life”

This kind of thing is so different from the typical classroom. The bell rings, the children might stand behind desks and sing “Good afternoon, Teacher”, then it is time to rush or run off.  It sometimes feels like absolute chaos, a whirlwind of a tornado and it happens all over the school.  But it can be different. One of my mentors, years ago, encouraged me to greet, and farewell, every child with a handshake and their name.  As in, “Good Morning Tom. How are you today?”    I really believe this eye to eye, HEART to HEART, contact is the greatest gift we can give our children. When children grow up believing that they have every right to be here, feeling respected and able, they mature with a deep belief in themselves and their ability to succeed.

But what if you didn’t have that growing up? I don’t think that can be an excuse.
Why not start believing in your ability to be successful now?
We can start with these KIPP principles.

Sit up
Ask questions
Nod when spoken to
Track with your eyes

It starts with a smile.
With every person I encounter this week, I’m going to Smile, sit up, listen, ask questions, nod when I am spoken to, track with my eyes, and greet everyone I meet by their name. It continues to amaze me that we can practice outward behaviours and make such an impact on our internal reality.  Success. Here we come.

I’m betting that if you make these six behaviours part of your everyday reality, it won’t be long before you are back at the page, roaring and ready to go into action and achieve those dreams and goals of yours.  Cheers to your future success!

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