What Is Creativity?

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According to the dictionary, “Creativity” is defined as:

the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

With synonyms such as:

  • Individuality
  • Imagination
  • Innovation
  • Originality
  • Vision

I would go on to say that creativity is the act of approaching our human experience with curiosity, seeking novel ways of expression and pushing the boundaries of what has been done.

In exploring the definition of creativity, we see that it is not limited to art. Coining a new phrase, wearing unique clothes, joining words together, finding a solution to a problem, scheming new theories from disparate subjects … these are all expressions of creativity. Likewise, we are all creative because it is our human nature. Just because you cannot draw or play music does not mean you lack creativity.

Creativity is the one thing which can never be replaced by machines or robots. 

Pondering Of Consciousness

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A person I know recently lost a loved one which caused me to ponder the meaning of life and definition of consciousness. While I am certainly not qualified to describe any of it with authority, I want to provide a few humble thoughts.

If we look at quantum physics, we see within every atom are quarks and within every quark are vibrating strings of energy. At this level, everything is the same. Everything is one. Perhaps this explains the phenomenon of quantum entanglement where when we separate something the parts remain mysteriously connected; what happens to one affects the other instantaneously. We also see that two lovers or a parent and child separated by walls and distance remain connected. When they create a physiological reaction in one person by showing images, the other person reflects the physical reaction even when they are not seeing any images or their partner.

In essence, there is something that connects us all together; perhaps this is what some people call “God”. There is a realm that exists of which we cannot see, touch or measure.

I am reminded of a wonderful metaphor for life…..
We start from a river. Our life, as we know it, begins when we pass over a waterfall and see ourselves as separate little drops of water floating down until we reach the end of the waterfall and once again join the mighty river.

The Transmissive and Receptive Mind

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Consciousness can be transposed on a spectrum of transmission and reception; of projecting and receiving energy, wisdom and knowledge. This is comparable to the difference between speaking and listening. When we are speaking we cannot listen. When we listen we cannot speak.

Just like anything else in life, transmission and reception must be balanced for the greatest efficacy.

When a person is predominantly in a state of reception, the person accomplishes little in life and would likely be overly dependent on others for the three dimensional necessities in life.

When a person is predominantly in a state of transmission, the person accomplishes many things but lacks a depth of understanding, a broader vision and can end up burned out.

Transmission and Reception balance is somewhat analogous to the production vs production capability balance outlined in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. This is also referred to as “P and PC Balance”. Productivity is the end result; and production capability is the thing that produces that end result. An example of this is a car … with driving as the production (p) and mechanical soundness is the production capability (pc). We can drive our car non-stop around the country with no down-time for preventative maintenance. For a period of time (20-40,000 miles), production is incredibly high since there has been no down time, but soon that lack of maintenance causes your production capability to have major break downs. Now the engine requires a complete tear down resulting in major expense and loss of time. This could have been avoided by caring for the production capability as much as the production. Production is about short term yield whereas production capability is about long term sustainability. This relates to many areas of our lives. We can over-work our bodies and neglect our health resulting in burn out after an initial increase in productivity. In relationships, we can take more than we give, resulting in a fizzling relationship. Managers can whip their employees into shape for short term quarterly increase in sales but resulting in higher turnover rate and low morale. Life is about balance.

As a workaholic — where in the face of obstacles or stress I work harder — I know this lack of balance all too well. In 2014, I had two of the largest sculpture projects in my life with a tight deadline of completion. I did heavy fabrication work of which there was no precedent from 8am in the morning till 9pm at night every day including weekends and holidays. I had to push myself with caffeine to pull every last drop of productivity out of my body and mind. While the sculptures where successful, I was left depleted. I even had to go a naturopathic doctor because had lost my mojo. It took me over a year and many supplements to rebuild what I had lost. This lack of balance is not worth the short term gain because ultimately long term sustainability will wane.

Back on the transmissive and receptive state of consciousness … It is the while in the transmissive state when I produce. It is when I take action. When I affect the external world. When I speak. It is when I project energy and when I give. These are all critically important things to live a successful and well-adjusted life. But even good things can become out of balance.

If we put any polar opposites on a gradient spectrum, we can achieve balance in two ways. We can have a strong positive and a strong negative. Both are equally powerful and together they combine for maximum potency. There is weight at both ends of the scale. Conversely we can put the weight right in the middle this scale for complete neutrality. This centerline neutrality lacks potency … it is listless.
When we can harmoniously combine the qualities of two disparate things we can exponentially increase the potency greater than the sum. We can distinguish these two forms of balance as “Polar Balance” (weight on both ends) and “Neutral Balance” (weight in the middle)

These two different ways to approach balance can be applied to transmissive and receptive mental states. I naturally tend to put more weight on the transmissive side of the scale. If I were to utilize Neutral Balance, I would remove weight from transmission. Whereas if I were to utilize Polar Balance, I would add weight to the reception. When I add high levels of receptive wisdom to already high levels of transmissive action, it potentiates greater results.

How do we add to the receptive end of this balance?

It is taking time to sit and be. To meditate. To be present. To close your eyes.

Thoughts still exist in this receptive state, but they are different. Thoughts come from a deeper space in of wisdom and intuition. Receptive state provides answers.

The epitome of being in a state of reception is a tree. The tree exists. The tree breaths. The tree listens to wind in it’s canopy. A tree watches. A tree is still. A tree is strong with roots deep into the earth, synonymous with tapping into the collective unconscious. Sometimes I envision myself being a tree to remember the feeling of the receptive state. It is a powerful visualization.

Creativity comes from a receptive state. Creativity cannot be forced or willed into existence. Just like how authentic play cannot be forced. It must be gently allowed to manifest in waves like a mushrooms sprouting up on a rainy day.

We can begin meditation with questions then allow the answers to come though silence and presence of mind. Another excellent visualization is to imagine particles of energy being attracted towards our body and absorbed. Let me give an example of how powerful this is: During an eye gazing exercise where I looked into my partner’s eyes and she looked into mine for an extended time, I attempted a receptive focus (also referred to as yin focus) by visualizing my eyes actually receiving energy. While doing this I had glimpses of perfect vision with what are normally very farsighted eyes. I have learned that the eyes are not merely passive observers but also powerful transmitters like lasers. I have learned that my eyes are a form of bio-feedback where I can understand my state of transmission vs reception by noting how well I see.

Prioritizing the practice of entering the receptive state though meditation and presence aids physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual well-being.

Where are you on the spectrum?

The Value Of Creativity

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In the age of machines, robots and computers taking over almost every aspect of human life, we are finding that creativity is the real human value that has no substitute.

I am deeply grateful that I have been given the freedom and support in cultivating creativity in my life; not only in sculpture but other diverse modalities.

I believe holistic expression creates excellence in all endeavors. Whether science, medicine, art or socialization, having a broad and diverse mental library of experience enables us to see novel connections formerly unnoticed. It allows us to relate seemingly disparate subjects. I try to express myself in a multitude of ways … visual art, music, dance, cooking, poetry, videography, etc. Often creative ideas for sculpture will come to me while doing poetry; or perhaps I think of a musical concept while dancing.

Creativity can be an elusive and ephemeral creature. It is not something that can be forced and tends to come in waves. I try to capture these glimpses of creative insight when they happen, otherwise they evaporate from my memory like a dream. I have found the twilight zone between waking consciousness and sleep is a powerful state of mind that can yield tremendous creativity. This transitional state is called “Hypnagogia”. Our brain actually has both alpha and theta waves during this state. Furthermore, the normal waking constraints / rules / boundaries that our pre-frontal cortex governs lessens allowing our mind to break the usual paradigms … a reason why our dreams can be so wild at times. Consequently I keep pen and paper near my bed to record these fleeting “downloads” of creativity.

Art, in it’s many forms, is our spiritual progeny. Art is an expression of our being and extension of who we are. Our creative manifestations will outlive us and have a tangible effect in the future. Everything I create is my progeny. The will to create comes from the same energy as the will to procreate. The difference is I transmute that elemental energy into other outlets such as visual art and music.

You ask what it is like to having two artists as parents and how we all interact in the creation of our artwork. Let me first say that art by committee is fraught with difficulties. However, when the right minds come together, the synergy can create outstanding results. I strongly believe in the philosophy behind the phrase “Two Brains Are Better Than One” and this is evident in my creative interaction with my parents. My parents have been critical mentors in my creative career. Giving design and composition advice that take the art to the next level. Providing ideas that just click and take off. We are powerful brainstormers. Once again, this is part of the holistic approach I mentioned earlier. By having three people look at the same thing there will invariably be different perspectives — sometimes vastly contrasting — but by combining the best elements of these different perspectives you end up with an end result that is often superior than the original singular perspective. I must say that while we deeply consider one another’s opinion we must nonetheless stay authentic to what feels right in our individual art projects. In hearing critiques, some elements are helpful and constructive whereas others don’t feel right to what I had envisioned. Regardless, my creative manifestations are better as a result of the synergy that I have with my parents and creative muses.

Over the course of doing many art festivals and art shows, I have heard many comments from people. The most consistent thing people say about my art is that they have never seen anything like. That it is completely new and novel. This makes me extraordinary happy because I seek to be different. While there is no doubt I derive inspiration from many sources, I want my creative manifestations to be different than what anyone has ever experienced. That is part of the appeal of creating art … to alter people’s normal experience of reality; to give people a reason a detour from the linear path of normalcy and routine.

My art is diverse. When factoring all of my visual art, it ranges from flat paintings to large public sculptures; from colorful whimsical to patinaed contemporary; from perfectly finished to rough industrial. Exploration is essential for holistic inspiration. My current body of work rejects the concepts of perfection in favor of wabi sabi aesthetics. In other words, finding beauty in the imperfection and the incomplete. I try to leave fabrication marks, partially ground welds, oil-stick marks and natural entropy. By leaving these elements, the viewer can see the actual process of creation in the finished piece.

Creative Entrepreneurialism

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What Does “Entrepreneurial Spirit” Mean?

To me an “entrepreneurial spirit” means embodying a deep seated desire for freedom and self-actualization. It stems from the philosophy of freewill; our ability to create our destiny. Many would think that being an entrepreneur means “not having a boss”, but this is a false belief. Rather we entrepreneurs have many bosses in the form of clients.

“Entrepreneurial spirit” is generally associated with making money where you create your own work as opposed to having someone give you work. Whether we like it or not, we live in a society where money is power, freedom and the virtual life blood. The entrepreneur understands this at least on a sub-conscious level. The entrepreneur accepts a certain amount of risk with creating his or her own business. The risk is there is no guarantee for making money, that all your time and investment could potentially yield little to nothing. But the reward for taking this risk is having no limit to your success. There is no ceiling to how much one can earn when you are an entrepreneur.

There are many “hats” when running a business.
The technician; the person who actually builds the product or yields the service.
The manager; the person who manages the details of the back end of business such as finance books and taxes.
And the entrepreneur; the person with the overall broad vision to propel the organization forward. To speak metaphorically, the entrepreneur is the one on top of the hill looking out beyond the immediate vicinity to see new opportunities on the horizon.

The Development Of Entrepreneurialism

At the age of 14-15, I had a job as a dishwasher at a jazz and wine club. While I made good money, I had a growing desire to quit which developed over the course of 14 days … until I got the check which tamped down my desire to quit only for it do develop again. I got locked into the a vicious cycle where I felt obligated to stay in a job I did not like … A situation that many people find themselves. I learned that I must be an entrepreneur in my life so that I have freedom.

Incorporating entrepreneurship in my career is critical in making it an actual career and not a hobby. Indeed artists are often the best “technicians”; that is, they create massive inventory of product often totally engrossed in the creative process. The reason why the phrase “starving artist” exists is because many artists fail to utilize the important aspects of business. When I was younger, I despised doing finance books, but now I embrace it as a relaxing exercise to know what is going on in my business. The actual creative process is only a fraction what goes in to be a successful artist.

Some entrepreneur elements include networking, public speaking, seeking new opportunities, forecasting the “weather” of culture, marketing, money management, time management, etc.

It takes both sides of the brain to be successful … or having other people involved with the business that make up where you lack. Indeed successful people like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie actually didn’t know how to build an engine or the mechanical properties of steel, but they surrounded themselves with knowledgeable people who did. They created win-win relationships with these complimentary people by giving them work while mutually reaping the rewards of their knowledge.

Time is the most valuable resource we have and the entrepreneur must learn how to potentiate the productivity out of every minute. I created a sign above my desk to remind myself to “Automate and Delegate”. I value being in control — like many business-people — believe I can do things better and faster than others; alas this is an Achilles heel of workaholics. Let me explain….

There are a lot of tasks we do in business every day. Accounting, sales, errands, networking, delivery, and fabrication. Let’s assume that I ought to make at least $50 an hour doing the most effective thing … standing on the hill looking for new opportunities to seize upon. Anything that takes me away from the most effective thing, is actually costing me money. For example, if I can hire a person to do delivery for $20 thereby allowing me to focus on the most productive activity, I am actually making $30 more an hour by delegating.

Likewise for automation. I can plasma cut metal parts by hand for negligible direct cost. Or I can get a loan for a CNC plasma cutter for $200 a month. While this is more expense every month, it allows me the freedom to do what I am best at. Even if I only use the machine 8 hours a month, which would be $25 an hour, this frees up my time to pursue $50 an hour tasks; effectively doubling my money. The concept of automation and delegation is a key characteristic of entrepreneurship.

The Risk Of Being A Creative Entrepreneur.

There are multiple risks associated with being an entrepreneur…especially the creative kind. Since my income is project based, this means I have to have a constant supply of projects in order to have a constant supply of income. Say I have a project which yields a net income of $10,000. The problem I have is not knowing when the next project will come. The question I must ask myself is “How long must I make this money last?” “Will this need to last a month or will it need to last nine months?” Consequently, it is hard to budget or ever take a break.

Obviously the solution to this is to take on more projects which can easily overwhelm my capacity. And overwhelmed capacity means delays which means unhappy clients. I need to take my own advice of automate and delegate to expand my capacity. As previously mentioned, automation often means incurring debt which is obvious risk. I haven’t talked about employees yet. Having employees has the potential to exponentially increase productivity; the first employee you hire is the only time you can double your productivity by 100%.. But this requires the investment of time to train the employees. As well as increased paperwork and increased injury liability. Employees can quit at any time which means a lost of invested time training. Employees can get hurt which can pose serious cost. Employees can even catch the entrepreneurial spirit and take your formula to create competition. These are risks one must weigh when hiring employees, but the rewards can be great.

Another risk of being an entrepreneur I have particularly experienced is the problem of never “turning off”. When you are an entrepreneur, it is completely up to you whether you will sink or swim (or fly). If you don’t put in the time and effort, you will sink. If you don’t invest yourself, you will sink.
For the lackadaisical person, the challenge is there is no person telling you to work from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Likewise for the ambitious person the challenge is there is no person telling you to go home. Entrepreneurial life magnifies a persons personality. Because of the great personal responsibility to my success, I have found I never turn off the business mind. I am always thinking and doing in relation to my businesses. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed, everyday including weekends … I am business. This can be toxic and cause fatigue. Let me reference “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People”… where Stephen Covey talks about production vs production capability. Think about a machine which produces widgets. You can force the machine to produce widgets 24/7 with no down time and for a period of time you will have increased productivity. But eventually the machine will break down because of lack of maintenance. Productivity will suffer and repair costs will be steep. When amortized this way, we see that productivity, productivity, productivity all the time actually becomes inefficient. I have experienced this in 2014, where I had the two largest projects of my life to complete. I did industrial work from 8am in the morning to 9pm at night every day in freezing temperatures and in 120 degree heat over an entire year. I drove myself with energy drinks. I ended up burning my adrenals where I had to go to a naturopathic-doctor to learn why I lost my mojo. It took me a year of down time to recover.

“Production capability” means maintaining the machine or “sharpening the saw”. Production capability is absolutely critical for maximum long term productivity. This is why many tech companies like Google and Amazon have their workers take frequent breaks and have “fun-time”. It is in the down-time where creative insight sparks and morale is regained.

How Entrepreneurship Has Shaped Who I Am.

Being in International Baccalaureate program during high school, educators tried to program me by saying that the only way to be successful was to go to college. But I believe that an equal investment of time and money into a business can yield better results. Because I dove into entrepreneurship early, I have been able to rack up over 10,000 hours of experience. This is what Malcolm Gladwell says is required to become an expert in any given field. My “professors” are my colleagues. My “tests” are my projects. My “textbook” is my life. This depth and breadth of experience has allowed me to see patterns and make relationships in my mind thereby creating greater success and richness of life.

I have learned work ethic. I have learned that my success is solely my responsibility.

In our media and politics we always hear about the need for “jobs”. I believe this stems from a victim mentality where people think their success is solely dependent on external influences; the government, the corporations. What if we changed the dialogue from creating hourly jobs to creating entrepreneurship? I believe we would live in a more sustainable economy if we shifted such national focus.

Back on the personal level, my experience as an entrepreneur gives me the confidence that I can sustain myself regardless of the economy or politics. I have the power to create the life I want. Entrepreneurs have resilience unlike any other.

Advice For The Aspiring Entrepreneur.

The first bit of advice is that grit and perseverance is the number one determiner of success. It’s not financial background, class, beauty, or even intelligence….it’s grit. Please listen to the following ted talk on Grit:

On a related subject, the most important key to wilderness survival is the “will to survive”. This is the number one most foundational characteristic of the person who survives as opposed to the person who perishes.

Moving beyond developing a heart of perseverance, other advice would be:

  1. Be a voracious reader of business, your industry, and of all other subjects. Reading expands the mind and opens new avenues of thought. Some suggestions would be “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” and “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.
  2. Learn how to communicate effectively both orally and written. Grammatical errors can be used to discredit everything a person says in the minds of the critical audience. Body language speaks more than even tone and words alone; therefore it is important to understand what body language says.
  3. Embrace your extroverted side and network like a honey badger. Talk with people of the same industry. Talk with clients. Talk with people in the grocery store line. Talk with everyone. Learn from everyone who crosses your path; everyone is your teacher. Subscribe to the philosophy behind the quote “We have two ears and one mouth; use them proportionally”.
  4. Let go of self-limiting beliefs. People are told by family, teachers, or friends that they are good at some things and not other things. We tend to believe this at a deep level and often never break loose of these chains. Believe you ARE good at what you were told otherwise. Develop contrary obstinance to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Some people told me that I couldn’t build a 40′ diameter 16,000# arch sculpture in my driveway; this criticism fueled a fire within me to prove them wrong.
  5. Strive for balance. Balance of the left brain with right brain. Balance of production and production capability. Balance of the masculine and feminine. Balance of being present yet planning for the future and learning from the past. Balance accounts. Balance introversion with extroversion.
  6. Seek excellence in everything you do. Strive to be excellent in your speech. Your personal presentation. Your hand-writing. Your comprehension of what you read. Your driving. Your product or service. And if you make a mistake, be grateful for the opportunity to learn and be better moving forward. Excellence takes effort and time, but it’s increasing rarity makes it’s value all that much more important.

Why We Get Creative Insight Right Before Sleeping

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What is the solution when you can’t fall asleep and counting sheep doesn’t work?

Don’t resist the gift that was given to you…

Lately I have been getting incredible creative inspiration right before falling asleep. The visualizations, words, and ideas are so powerful that I am forced to turn on the light and write them down in the notebook near my bed. While some people would be perturbed by the inability to fall asleep because of all these thoughts, I try to catch the creative inspiration while I can. Even though I am a professional creative, it is extremely difficult to “turn on” creativity. Inspiration seems to come in spurts and waves. I have learned that I must record these thoughts during those times otherwise I forget and loose the inspiration.

In pondering and researching this phenomenon of increased creativity right before sleep, I have found that we actually experience REM like sleep states right before real sleep. Essentially I am experiencing a form of lucid dreaming. I have also learned there is extrinsic and intrinsic thought. Extrinsic thought is reason and logic where neurons fire with nearby neurons. However intrinsic thought is feelings and intuition where neurons fire with distant neurons in the nether regions of the brain. Intrinsic thought is achieved during sleep and the twilight zone between awakeness and sleep. The twilight zone called hypnagogia is a blend of theta and alpha brain waves.

So next time you can’t sleep at night, use it to your creative advantage.

Poetry – Lone Tree On The Hill

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Lone tree on hill is loudest.

The free wind blows through with full wisdom.

Tenacious, independent, strong tree.

The rocky resinous soil it grows.

Layers of bark like sacred pages.

Poetry – Into The Earth

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

I am a man of passion.

I am a man of light.

I am a man of transmission.

I am a man of fight.

I am a man of action.

I am a man of might.

I am a man of conversation.

I am a man of elation.

But it is times of silent reception,

Where I derive power.

I stand here with open hands.

In the darkness of the night

With my feet firmly in the land.

I take off my glasses

To not see the masses.

Rain comes down

Dripping to the ground

Washing away my ego

I am nothing

I am everything

The soil turns to mud.

I sink deeper.

I look through the rain towards the sky.

I sink deeper.

I feel the soft grass and rugged leaves brush my hands.

I sink deeper.

I smell the earth and the purifying scent of sage.

I sink deeper.

I hear the chatter of coyotes and the whistle of hawks.

I sink deeper.

There is darkness.

I am enveloped and free.

I am of the earth.

I am in the earth.

The heartbeat is loud. Her warmth is comforting

Roots grow through me. I am torn apart. Holes. Time passes. Contentment, happiness relief. My breath slows to the scale of glacial mountains. My consciousness swings outside of physical constraints. Like being pushed on a swing by an invisible hand. The pendulum swings progressively wider until there is no swing, only cycles. Faster and faster a vortexing whirlpool develops. I am the eye.

There is no movement and all movement.

No sound and all sound.

Nothing and everything.

Presence and future-past.

There is humming that reverberates in all of my being like a transformer on an electrical line.

With every exhale there is death and with every inhale there is birth.

What tremendous responsibility until you realize they are all the same. Animals exhale that which plants inhale. Trees exhale that which humans inhale. A spinning top, there is balance. Only the hologram exists. Feeling through others, is this compassion? I feel what they’re going through. I see through your eyes, hear through your ears, and smell through your nose. I understand your mental processes, your emotions. I feel your pain, heartbreaks, love, aspirations, losses, grief, ecstasy, joy, warmth, coldness, anger, rage, softness, gentleness, courage, peace….

So much to absorb. You have to be eaten by the earth to be able to absorb. Ever cell must split to allow experience to permeate fully. Tears fall while I dance with joy. The forward hope of exiting the womb with the finalness of dying and entering back to earth.

I close my eyes but I see.

I dampen my ears but I hear.

It’s so loud. It’s so bright.

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

Dissolve and expand. Salt melts into water. Ice melts into ocean.
Melt into oblivion; into everything.

You won’t remember when you remember everything.

The spiral encircles outward as images pass by with incomprehensible speed.

This is why they say the universe is expanding.

One after another.

Birth and death.

The odometer keeps ticking.

Calendars keep turning.

Muscles twitch like when in dream state.

Don’t forget to breath.

Momentum and inertia.

Dissolving into unification.

The rain drops turns to river turns to ocean.

Poetry – Clearing Fog

Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Sitting on the hill

I am this soil

Enveloped in fog

I think I will sleep

In waking there is warmth

My ears hear the morning sun

My pores open with receptivity

Finally the haze begins to clear

Like a stiff winged butterfly after metamorphosis

I am free.

Poetry – Osmotic Entrainment

Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Atoms in crystals

Drops in clouds

Trees in forest

Words in books

Humans in society

Collective wisdom

Through existence

Mere presence

Equates absorption

Osmotic entrainment.