I had a few hours to myself this morning, so I decided to spend the time in Starbucks working through some ideas.
As I was walking out, a man held the door open for me.
“I wanted to tell you that I really like your laptop,” he said.
“Oh, thanks,” I responded. I had not noticed the man at all while I was working, so I was surprised that he had been looking at my laptop.
“I was trying to read what it said while you were sitting there,” he told me.
“It says, ‘Creativity takes courage’,” I continued.
“That’s really cool. Is that like some kind of cover for your laptop?”
“No…. I have a dye cut machine and I cut it out of adhesive vinyl…” I tried to explain… (I made it… because, you know… creativity…). I didn’t add that last part. (You can see how I made it here.)
“I could see it said something about being brave,” he said as we continued down the sidewalk.
“Be kind. Be brave. Be you,” I told him… “That’s what it says.”
“That’s cool,” he said. “I really like that.”
I was trying to smile the entire time we were talking. But, to be honest, the conversation felt like a kick in the gut.
The truth is, I had spent the last three hours, working through creative ideas for how I might be able to work from home. The whole time I was telling myself: “Ya know, creativity is scary. Creativity is too hard. Creativity takes a lot of work.” By the end of my time at Starbucks, I’ll admit I was scanning LinkedIn for any type of job that would NOT stretch myself in my usual areas of creativity.
When I was staring at my laptop screen, the cover was pointing away from me. I had created that sticker and put those words on the front as a reminder to me not to give up when I needed to do something creative. Don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t get caught up in how people respond. It doesn’t matter. The reactions of other people don’t determine your worth.
I have written those sayings on chalkboards in my house. I’ve recited them to my children over and over again when they faced critics who bashed their ideas. Creativity takes practice. You might have a creative talent, but you have to work on it. You have to keep trying. You have to keep pushing yourself to improve. You have to be courageous, I would tell them.
I’ve been learning that my work doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m a work in progress. I’m trying to grow. To do that, I have to practice. It’s OK if it’s not great. Yes, there are people a few decades younger who are way better than I am at a lot of things. But I’m a lot better now than I was two decades ago.
I must have said this a million times because our son wrote a song about it this summer.
In the song, he raps about how people talk and talk and talk about their dreams. But they are too afraid to actually pursue them.
“Creativity takes courage so you gotta spread your wings.”
A lot of people seemed to like the song. So, he thought it would be fun to make a music video.
We were courageous and asked a bunch of friends to drive one and a half hours to the beach to record the footage. Who really does that? Fortunately, his friends have grown accustomed to our strange requests, and they were happy to come along. I mean… it did involve a day at the beach. Thankfully, I was invited because someone had to shoot the video. (I’ll do anything to get to spend a day with my teens and their friends!)
At first, it seemed like no one really liked the video. It got a few likes. One or two comments. Does that mean the video was terrible? Or did it just mean people were busy? Or had more important things to do than to watch an amateur music video made by a bunch of high school kids and a middle-age mom. I get that! I rarely ever click on anyone else’s video, to be honest.
Then, YouTube decided they liked it. They put it in their rotation of “suggested” videos, and over the next few days it was viewed by nearly 2,000 people.
Honestly, I would rather get a genuine response from five close friends than a glance from 2,000 strangers. But that’s the weird thing about creativity. Sometimes the people who don’t know you react in a more positive way than your closest family members and friends.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what people think. That’s not the point. The guy in Starbucks reminded me to take my own advice.
If you have an idea, pursue it. If you have a dream, try it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
I guess I needed to hear my own words. And a total stranger walked up just when I was tired of trying and made me say it out loud so that I could hear it.
“Creativity takes courage.”
If you liked this post, please leave me a comment, hit the like button or share it! Do you ever feel afraid to try something creative? I would love to hear your thoughts.