A New Year’s Post in March. Sounds about right for 2022.
I didn’t feel like writing this blog post. That is actually regular normal for me, let alone new normal. But, like most creative things, as I started to plonk away on the keyboard rather too aggressively, I had a thought. I wrote a book about how to be creative using 5 effortless habits that spell DANCE. So why not start there. The theme for today is Confidence in Uncertainty. Rich, since I’m super uncertain about how to start or structure this blog post.
But, I will take my own advice and try the DANCE structure. It might fail. I can always change it, anyway. This is how I walk myself through facing any challenge in uncertainty. I mean, I’m not going to DIE if this blog isn’t Pulitzer material, will I?
D for Daydreaming.
A is for Ambiguity.
N is for Novelty.
C is for Curiosity.
E is for Edit Later.
Let’s dive in!
We’re into the third row of the 2022 family sized box of cookies. If you’re like me, I still don’t quite know what year it is, and how long this pandemic has been going on.
I don’t even remember eating January. Who ate February? Oh I guess it was me.
If January was a cookie, it would have been one of those seemingly healthier types of cookies that you eat without thinking. After 5 of them you suddenly wonder “why am I eating these?”. You’re getting it done, carbohydrate-ly speaking, without really thinking about it. That’s my January, anyway.
I wasn’t expecting it to be this way. After all, I just published my FIRST BOOK! I should be eating truffle infused diamond cookies all month with gusto. Although I only hit publish on my e-book on Dec 31, 2021, it might as well have been 1999. A few weeks later I was able to publish my paperback book. I was elated to hit #1 hot new release in 3 categories on Amazon, and hit #2 bestseller, too!
Can you relate? Why do we normalize success so rapidly yet wallow for years in the despair of failure and disappointment? I guess we are wired this way. When researchers ask subjects to look for gazelles in a collage of photos, they still spend longer looking at the lions. Or trolls on Twitter, probably. I thrive in a challenge. With a high Tolerance of Ambiguity, I love to constantly be learning, tweaking, trying new things. As a result, I don’t enjoy the outcomes of my toil as much. Sometimes reaching the top is a bit of a letdown, the journey being the destination and all that.
But, I try to take my own advice. I have nurtured my creative juices this month by writing this blog, and by growing sprouts for my cockatiels (which they don’t really like but taste great on sandwiches. The sprouts, not the cockatiels.) I have also edited my bio and speaking offerings for 2022. I’m most proud of creating a schedule that allowed me to go skiing on a few weekdays. I took some cute shots of a weasel on one of these outings.
I’m also having fun with the Aerogarden we got for Christmas. So exciting to create life, and then eat it!
How about you? I know there is something that you do on the regular, that you don’t even consider to be creative.
I regret that I haven’t picked up my guitar in months. I don’t even know why. It sits petulantly in the corner, staring at me. Or maybe it’s relieved. Hard to tell, I’m not so good at guitar body language.
Let’s Get Nerdy with Uncertainty, and this one’s a doozy.
In this article, authors explore how uncertainty leads to stress and how it impacts our health. Basically, uncertainty is expensive and requires an energy payout by the brain. There are three levels of stress in response to uncertainty; good, tolerable and toxic. To master uncertainty, there are three main stages. First, we switch to an aroused state, requiring energy. The brain (authors call it the “Selfish” brain which seems a bit inflammatory to me) makes sure it gets more energy to deal with the incoming stress of uncertainty, changing insulin and brain blood barrier stuff in order to do so.
After arousal, we activate learning in the face of uncertainty through glucocorticoids. With all kinds of cool receptor adaptations and bell curves, it seems that if we can produce a lower level of glucocorticoids we learn better (hence good, or tolerable stress). If we produce higher levels it activates more stress and anxiety (and toxic stress.). Finally, we either habituate to the uncertainty or not, which affects how stressed we feel. If we can’t deal, then we get “allostatic load” on the brain that leads to health and mental effects like impaired memory, diabetes, and heart and brain disease.
Full disclosure: this is a Full Nerd article, chock a block with obscure neurophysiological terms, receptors, and lingo. I’m pretty good at reading articles but there was a lot of ambiguity for me in reading or skimming this article because I can’t get interested in MR/GR differential bell curves for Long Term Potentiation, and most definitely not negative logarithms of P(Y). Sorry not sorry.
I loved my interviews for Creative Lifescaping I interviewed Liane Davey, an organizational psychologist, and Louis Fernandez, former US military turned cost recovery expert. Tomorrow (March 4) I’ll be interviewing Quantum career coach Molly Creese, MBA to talk about using creativity for your career and for networking (check it out live or the recording on Linkedin or Youtube)
Louis noted how his creativity allowed him to find new ways of working and finding cost efficiencies for companies. We discussed how the military can be very creative, within the constructs of a rigid structure and how that evolves. You can see the interview with Louis here
Liane Davey shared the insights of her journey from a rigid academic background to today, as a funny and creative speaker, author and consultant. We explored the barriers of judgement of ourselves and others, and how creativity might impact a toxic team. Liane feels like the “real” Liane at 5 years old started accumulating layers – of others’ expectations, norms and conventions that hid who she was, in an effort to fit in. Her path to becoming more authentically herself has been a process of stripping down. She compares it to Michaelangelo’s thoughts on sculpting. Like Michaelangelo, who merely reveals the hidden image beneath, Liane has learned to “strip away the expectations, norms, standards, and rules that have obscured the true me and revealed what has always been there. I am emerging.” Check out this interview here.
I’m curious about going back to the office. I engaged in an interesting discussion about going back to the office, and how it creates barriers for those who are different. Neurodiverse, differently abled, etc. I wondered if people who want to go back to the office like it because they thrive in that environment, so assume everyone else does? How many people are self-employed, or work in jobs that aren’t using their natural genius, because they can’t fit in to an office (spoiler alert I’m one. I would die a painful death of a thousand paper cuts in a cubicle zoo)
What are you curious about this week? Share it with me or with the world on social and #thereluctantcreative or tag me in the post so I can share your curiosity.
I did edit this blog. Full disclosure, I stole most of it from a newsletter I wrote in January because I realize that I don’t have enough on my blog. And I’m trying to get smarter with my time. But I edited out the “this is a newsletter” stuff because it wouldn’t make much sense. As much as editing is good and helpful, it is important to know what and why we are editing. Are the edits an attempt to stay small, more palatable, or to put on more of those layers that Liane Davey mentions? So yes, edit later, but don’t do it to stay safe. Edit to make your message more clear, more relevant, and to expand your comfort zone. Hopefully speaking out more effectively and being seen is the new normal for you in 2022.
*TMI is “Too much Information”. I didn’t know what TL:DR meant for about 3 years so I like to respect everyone’s journey to learning random abbreviations (TL:DR is Too Long Didn’t Read)
*If you read my book please leave an honest review wherever you bought it.
*Looking for more to lighten up a meeting or event, with some tangible ROI value? Contact me at email@example.com to set up a call to discuss how I might motivate your team. Or whip them into shape. Up to you.