Last week I was out of the country, in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, getting 40 hours of training in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods and materials.
What is LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®? It’s an amazing methodology with a wide range of applications that yes, uses LEGO® bricks, to get people thinking with their hands.
I first encountered LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® at a one-day workshop at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, an annual conference in Buffalo, New York, last June, and I was so blown away by that experience that I signed up for the advanced certification in the methodology with Master Trainer, Jacquie Lloyd Smith, of Strategic Play® (tell her I sent you!).
(If you’d like to hear more about LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, I had Jacquie on the podcast recently, episode 128, so check that out.)
Anyway, this episode isn’t about LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, although that was the entire focus of my last week, and I could happily talk about it for hours.
What I want to talk about is the byproduct of that: falling off the wagon.
Because I was so intensely focused on my training, and on connecting with the other people in my classes when we weren’t in class, that my daily doodles just flew out the window.
I actually brought my ukulele with me, and I managed to play at least a little bit most nights before bed. And I even managed to get a little French practice in most nights, too (something else I’m making an effort to do every day, since MM and I are planning a trip to Paris next summer, and I’d like to have some idea of what people are saying!)
But the daily doodling fell right out the window.
And here I am the creativity queen!
But here’s the thing: falling off the wagon happens.
Falling off the wagon is not actually even the problem. It’s how we respond to it that’s the problem.
If I responded to my falling off the daily doodle wagon by beating myself up, how helpful do you think that would be?
Do you think it would make me more inclined to pick up my pen?
If I responded to my falling off the wagon by saying, “Omigod, Melissa, you missed seven days of doodles! That means now you have to make eight doodles today to make up for it, instead of just one!”
Do you think that would make me more inclined to pick up my pen?
Guess what? Adding “missed” days to today’s goal is a form of beating yourself up!
Scientific studies have shown, over and over, that the people who respond to their stumbles with self-forgiveness and self-compassion are much more likely to achieve their goals in the end than those who beat themselves up.
This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. If you know you’re going to stumble eventually (because you’re human), and you know you’re going to get a beating when you do, it becomes less painful to just stop trying.
But if you know you’ll be forgiven, you can stumble a zillion times and it won’t matter.
People are often afraid that letting themselves off the hook like this will lead to laziness and dissipation, but in fact, study after study has shown the opposite. Self-compassion keeps you at it, because you always get to take a fresh start, with no guilt.
Which is exactly what I did when I came home from my LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training.
The truth is, when I boarded the plane for Canada, I gave myself a pass on doodling for the week. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing morning doodles, and I let that be okay.
And when I got home, I started up again, and it felt great to get back to it. No guilt, just goodness. Because even though I know other people look to me for inspiration, and part of my mission is to use my own creative expression to inspire others to get creating, ultimately I’m doing my doodles for me.
It has to be that way. If it becomes about impressing anyone else, or doing it for anyone else in any way, then I’ve jumped right out of the Creative Sandbox, haven’t I? And that defeats the whole purpose of what I’m trying to do!
Creating in the Creative Sandbox means there is no wrong (Guidepost #1), and that it’s all about the process, not the product (Guidepost #2). And of course, it means I’m dismissing all gremlins (Guidepost #8) and treating myself with compassion (Guidepost #9).
True, I wasn’t thinking tiny and daily (Guidepost #4) in terms of doodles, but I was creating in other ways while I was in Whistler. I mean, it wasn’t as if I was cramming my creative spirit in a closet for a week, after all. I made a conscious decision about where I was spending my time and energy. And I decided there would be no guilt involved.
And I gotta tell you, compared with my old way of guilting myself and beating myself up, it felt pretty great.
So where do you need to start fresh? Where do you need to let yourself off the hook and bring in some self-forgiveness and self-compassion?
Let me know how it goes!
This week’s Something Cool is the Duolingo app, which is how I’m learning French! Little by little, day by day, I’m learning French with this app, and I gotta say, it really is pretty cool. And it’s free! Check it out.
Want a creative kick start?
Check out my book!
What would change for you if you could totally revel in the joy of creating? You CAN, with The Creative Sandbox Way!
- Melissa’s 10 fool-proof guideposts that have helped thousands get joyfully creating.
- 5 reasons why creative play is good for you, AND for the world (it’s neuroscience, baby!)
- Why “I’m not creative” is always a lie, and how to bust it.
- How to turn creative blocks into friends.
AND you’ll get creating right in the book itself.
“It’s one part field guide, one part creative practice—and I loved it. The Creative Sandbox Way is an adventure packaged as a book.”
NYT best-selling author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup
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Thanks for Listening!
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