Creativity is great but it ain’t anything without follow through. Having an abundance of fabulous ideas is no more than useless, unless we have the capacity to turn them into something that is …is what? Useful? Meaningful? Marketable? Desirable? For our creating to be anything, it needs to be of value to oneself and or others. It needs to address something that is unfulfilled, even if, for the creator, it is simply enjoying the embodied experience; the act of creating?
Many years ago when I was recovering from a back injury and I could not play sport, I took a fancy to wood-turning. I bought all the gear, a lathe, cutting tools, started collecting wood. I went on several training courses to begin to learn the skills. And then I had many, many absorbing hours creating….. wood shavings! I had a ball learning how to move my body as one with the different cutting tools. It actually didn’t matter that, often, by the end of my time in the shed I had nothing material to show for my ‘lost hours’.
For me the joy was in the experience; the ‘feel’ of my body moving in flow with my implement. The same is true for me in playing sport; it is the feel of the hockey stick, cricket bat, tennis racket in my hands and connecting with the ball in the sweet spot, such that the ball flies off effortlessly on the path I want it to go. No matter if I win or lose the point or score the goal. It is the moment of flow that gives me delicious pleasure. I guess even in this, it is the act of creating a glorious shot or stroke. And when I pick up a tennis racket (all too rarely, these days) all I want to do is ‘hit ball’. I’m not really interested in playing a game or winning a contest, I simply want to keep the momentum going, getting into an almost meditative state with my partner on the opposite side of the net; testing and challenging our moving across the court; judging when to run forward to volley and when to stay back. So what if the ball bounces twice before I reach it? Does it really matter THAT much? What is the point of getting into a game only to find oneself scrabbling to reach the ball in one bounce and then losing the point and the game and then having to stop playing? Why would I do THAT?
So this gets me pondering. I see that I have changed. I used to want to win. Now, I’m not bothered. Now I question the point and I wonder if I am alone in this? Why do people get so fixated on winning, finishing? Why bring ourselves to the end of something when it seems that it is ‘the making’ that has the potential to generate such joy? I get a hint of my particular challenge. I love the energy, the excitement, the enticement, the promise of never-ending access to new-ness, the creating moments. I hate finishing, because finishing means losing what I most value: moving and creating.
It took me much of my adult life to come to recognise my unique stamp of creativity. It was only when I started paying attention to what showed up in my behavior that I began to see the patterns enough to embrace the label as part of my identity. I am great at following the energy; love being at the beginning of things; every job I have had was a new, never-been-done before role and I moved on every 2-3 years once the role had been established. I loved art lessons at school; I love making things with my hands; I love photography and the art of seeing and framing something of beauty, simply. And my sport gave me access to endless opportunities for creating in the ‘moving moments.’ It is why wood-turning drew me. Poetry in motion without having to get my hands wet like potters working the wheel.
Seeing something literally take shape before your eyes is a marvelous sight. A smooth, curvaceous shape being formed out of a rough, bark-clad lump of wood. It seems like magic when you make it work; the delight in making, matched in scale by the level of momentary despair when you get the angle wrong and your tool plunges into the heart of your creation, literally cutting it to shreds: a masterpiece killed before even it had a chance to be born. My paper-thin, almost ‘full moon’–shaped, silver birch bowl has yet to be born. Another fine pile of shavings. Fabulous for starting the next bonfire. Usefulness, whatever the unanticipated end state. Who was I to presume to know that that piece of wood was destined for grander forms? I was wrong. Yet what greater gifts it gave to me: first that I could spend hours lost in contemplation, turning it into shavings; and THEN to further reap the benefit from the warmth and glow of the fire it started at the end of the day?
The things I have made are no replacement for the experience of creating. The artists goes on to paint more, sculpt more, film more because there is nothing left for them in the finished product. I understand better now that even though I love playing sport and being physical, I am mostly uninterested in spectating, the sitting and watching can be emotionally ‘moving’ but it is not a moving, creative state.
My challenge as I see it, is that because I am so wedded to the moving, creating process, I find it hard to finish things. I can see that something out of my awareness has been driving my behaviour: ‘To finish’, means to ‘lose the experience’. I can see that this is problematic, particularly as someone who is self-employed and whose livelihood depends on making more of what I’ve created. Having fabulous ideas for new businesses; forming great concepts, models and methods for working with individuals, groups and organisations; enjoying the experience of creating coherence from chaos and confusion, all this is potentially meaningless and self-indulgent if I do not find a way to pass them on. Collecting mountains of metaphorical wood shavings does not make for a flourishing business model. This realisation leaves me feeling rather uncomfortable with myself because it confronts me with not living a life congruent with my own message. It has led me to take stock and to make changes. So now I am committed to ‘Follow the energy AND follow through’ and to ‘Make more of a difference by sharing more of what I’ve made’.
It has begun. This weekend I run my first training introducing the Potent 6 Constellation: a model to support coaches and facilitators to better help their clients to navigate through the uncertainty, chaos and confusion in their lives and organisations. I am excited, full of anticipation with a little trepidation thrown in. Perhaps next month I’ll share a little of how it went?
In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about future training, coaching or coach supervision opportunities, do get in touch on 07730 596 771
© Louie Gardiner 1st March 2013
Louie Gardner is a regular contributor to the3rdimagazine. http://www.potent6.co.uk/