Tag Archives: #creativity

Constant Gentle Pressure

Check out this article first at this link

The idea that it is life’s job to keep moving the salt shaker off the center of the table and my job to keep putting it back at the center – is so to the point.

I knew about this article in 2010 when Prof.Rao from CPM institute narrated this to us in London Business School. Recently, I remembered this article while preparing for the Wild Tiger Tees (WTT) team meeting. We have been up and running since August last year (I know it has not been that long), and I have tried to implement a lot of things (maybe a bit prematurely), and most of them have failed. Yes, I admit it. For a project manager and a driver like me, I had a tough time grappling with the inability to get things done. A few tries later (Quite a few tries) then I came to few realizations

  • We are doing this on a volunteer basis and mission is to support the youth.
  • There is entirely no point in beating myself over things in WTT because there is nothing at stake – we are making a difference.
  • Just because things do not work does not mean you stop trying.

The third point is why my mind dug up this article from the archives and brought it to the forefront of my mind chatter. Once I made peace with the situation, it became a lot easier. Now, I was open to trying different ways to make it work – it was like a game or a puzzle. I was trying to pick and see which piece would fit the best and then move on the next bit so that we can see the entire picture.

Lots of lessons in this one – Failure was a must for me to move on to the next step. The next step was the discovering that there is no need to treat every situation like a nail just because I have a hammer. Once I let go of the attachment to the outcomes I automatically starting exploring different ideas – creativity arose. And from there pure joy and well-being.

Life is pretty much the same way. Sometimes you have to keep chugging along even if the results are not there, but you know that it is the right track. The way our society shapes us we never fail enough. It is just not a done thing – however many books you may read, however many studies are out there which tell us that it is ok to fail. I take failure personally. Maybe it is time to rejoice the failures because then we can be unfettered in our next moves. Sometimes it might be best to fail and get the pressure out of the way so that you are free to experiment.

Yoda was right when he said – do or do not; there is no trying. If something fails then do something else – any beating yourself up, wasting time on what-ifs is not worth it.

What will you keep doing now?

Necessity – Creation – Jugaad

India has started a new system where every Indian is required to get an Aadhaar card much like the Social Security Number (or SSN) in the US. Now, India has a population of 1 billion and the USA about 328 million. While I was in India, my parents suggested getting my Aadhaar card done as well. So, we go to the bank, and like all government offices in India after a little bit of back and forth across a few officers we got the form, got a token and sat down for our turn. The bank was like a regular bank – a cashier, three counters, two offices, and a receptionist. The only twist was a guy was sitting on a makeshift table with a lamp and a laptop with a webcam. I asked my dad – who is calling out the token numbers and just then the guy on the makeshift table called out our number – he was processing the applications for Aadhaar cards.

I go over to his ‘office,’ and he has to take a passport photo to complete the application. I sit on a stool – there is a white paper behind me stuck to the wall with sellotape (scotch tape for those who live in the US), and he uses the lamp as a flash and takes a photo using the webcam on this laptop. And we are done. This kind of a temporary ‘Make-do’ arrangement is what I love about India and Indians. It is the only way you can get done something on a large scale (rolling of the cards to 90% of the population) where most of the population is illiterate. It’s people like the guy sitting in his makeshift office across India that made it happen.

Such arrangements are so common in India that we have a word for it called ‘Jugaad’ – Jugaad (a word taken from Hindi which captures the meaning of finding a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way) is a new way to think constructively and differently about innovation and strategy.

And that is why necessity is the mother of creation which we Indians are born with – we have limited resources, lots of constraints and stuff still needs to get done and does get done.

A lot of times we are hung up on having all the right tools, right resources to get work done and in some cases right mood or the right attitude when what needs to happen is to take the first step, fail fast and not worry about getting it perfect. For people who have the means to get all the right stuff before usually fall into this trap but for those who do not have the means – their focus is on getting it done, they don’t have distractions like having the right size pencil to start drawing. If you think in this fashion, then there is nothing that can stop you from doing anything. All you need is to want something badly, and you will find a way to make it happen.

What are we waiting for? Let’s make it happen.

I Am A Fraud & Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron. It was a lifesaver for me. I grew up in India where getting a job is more important than following your creative instincts. And as an engineer, my mental model was that – being an engineer and artist was impossible.

We are all creative beings, and as my level of awareness increased, I was drawn to express the creativity. And this is where Julia Cameron’s book helped me. I don’t even remember who told me about it, but I am very grateful to that person for introducing Artist’s way to me. It is a 12-week course that takes you on a journey of self-discovery via morning pages, artist’s date, letters to self and others. It felt very foreign but good – something inside of me felt fulfilled.

I cried a lot too, and that for me is not normal.
“Our tears prepare the ground for our future growth. Without this creative moistening, we may remain barren. We must allow the bolt of pain to strike us. Remember, this is useful pain; lightning illuminates.”

And the exercises in the book worked, and I ended up opening up a Bollywood dance class and writing a book called ‘The Lifepod‘. I was very nervous when I published it on Amazon. Even now I feel very unsure when I tell people about the book – it is almost like as if I am a fraud or an imposter. I am afraid that people will find out I am not an author. I am plagued by self-doubts. And it is in times like these that Artist’s way helped me because she explains how creative people feel and most importantly that it is normal to feel that way. It does not matter how confident I am as a program manager at work, but as a writer, I am a budding artist and need a lot of encouragement and appreciation. Any criticism at this point can be jarring to the soul. I protect the artist in me very fiercely.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE”

I thought that the process would be more natural with my second book – ‘Make Your Life Easy.” It was easier because I felt less of fraud with this genre – I blog about such topics every week, but I am still very vulnerable and scared about how people will view my book. Every time somebody says they are going to read my book – I don’t know whether to happy or scared.
“Remember that even if you have made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be a necessary stepping-stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.”

I find the creative process fascinating because I created something that did not exist before. Like the email at work, dance I choreograph or even this blog – these things did not live until I became a medium for them and let them flow through me.

“But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to play the piano/ act/paint / write a decent play?”
Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don’t.”

Cooking Creativity

When I first met Adam one of the my very emphatic statements to him was that I am not going to cook. Coming from India where it is assumed that girls will grow up and cook for their husbands and family, I assumed that Adam had similar notions. I was all set to make it straight. Adam’s cool answer to my “ready to go to war with” statement was “OK”.

And now surprise, surprise I love cooking – well, trying new recipes and if they are vegan/gluten free/healthy and have chia seeds or other superfoods even great. Like this weekend I made Onion Garlic Buttah [Vegan butter from Cashews], I have been on this cooking journey since last year. This weekend as I was making the Buttah I thought about why the sudden change. At first, I thought it was because, now it’s not expected of me – it’s my choice. But then I realized it was because it was creative. That got me thinking and hence the blog.

The picture above says it all and the output of the cooking is a lot different from the input itself. You do create something new and that’s what I like. Even the recipes I have made once I always change something in them. There is something very satisfying in taking different ingredients and making something new out of them.

And maybe this is why I love Software development too – creation of a website/form that did not exist before. As an engineer I assumed that I wasn’t creative but as I got into management the one thing I really missed was the creation of something tangible. And we will not talk about the fact that creativity might end up looking like a skyscraper when the client really wanted a small cabana on the beach – minor details.

And it was when I read Artist way that I started opening up to my creative self. And it is a journey – for years I grew up thinking creativity was something was outside of me – even the dictionary meaning of creative states that is something which is used for artistic work like painting/art. So if you are not a poet or an artist you are not creative.

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

However, now I am realizing that creativity is inbuilt in us as humans. Well, to begin with the mind chatter – voice in our head creates these lovely movies about things that don’t even exist or will never exist. For example, you see somebody in a party and your Mind Chatter creates a reality where that person does not like you. Or you have just given an interview and your Mind Chatter creates a reality where you will never get the job or where you get the job. We are creating all the time.

In fact, every day we wake up in the morning we are creating our day – every moment is a one that did not exist before. We are all creative beings in that sense – and now I beginning to understand where creativity and personal mastery come together.

What kind of a life are you creating right now, at this moment?