Sunday morning, I was talking to one of our Bed and Breakfast guests about creativity, madness and business success (interesting breakfast convo huh?). The discussion was about creative potential and how some believe you have to have a bit or a lot of “crazy” to be creative. I believe that most of us have creative potential and it is a matter of learning to access it. We don’t need to be living on the edge, manic or schizophrenic to get there.
But when our lives are chaotic or over-structured with obligations, or we are so busy doing the “right” thing or the “safe” thing, our creative inklings and desires do not have a chance to rise to the surface. I like what Will Rogers said, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is”.
I speak from experience. I never knew I was an artist. I went barreling along my life getting a my doctorate in Psychology and never took the first art class. I put myself on the fast track because I was paying for my education and was afraid that if I stopped I would never finish. I practiced Psychology for quite some time and then started a psychiatric medical records software company. But all along, creativity was perculating. As a hobby, I was renovating houses and office spaces and teaching myself Photoshop and basic web-design.
When I sold the software company and needed to go back to work, I knew that I did not want to practice psychology. It was the “safe” route, but I couldn’t see myself doing that any longer. I had kept my license current those ten years, to have something to fall back on. But I knew I never wanted to do that again so I decided it was time to explore other options. So I stepped out on that limb and let my license go.
What I wanted to do was continue to do building projects. I didn’t have any formal training, but my side projects had become bigger and more complicated and I had gained enough experience that I thought I could design and build lofts projects as a way to support myself. I was afraid, but I trusted and went for it, stepping out on that limb.
While doing my buildings, I had been also been doing my own graphics and websites to promote my projects. I head discovered WordPress and threw myself into learning it. When the economy started to tank, I didn’t want to build anything else I had to sell so I stopped. With time on my hands, I started creating my own sites and blogging for fun. I had no idea where I was going with it and no idea where it would lead or what I was going to do next. It was a bit nerve racking and a friend of mine would have to remind me that I was not in danger yet of having to clip cat food coupons to survive.
So while I tried to figure out what to do next, I found myself helping other people with their graphic design and websites. I had the realization that this could be my new business. Creating amazing spaces for people to live and work in real life was surprisingly similar to creating amazing online spaces for people and their businesses. That was when I actually admitted I was an artist. The common denominator in the things I loved to do was the creative aspect of each of them. Out of this exploration, I had found myself with a “new” business in the worst recession ever. I was fortunate that my creative outlets provided a service that others wanted. Sometimes, there will not be a market for your creative pursuits that will support you. But the most important thing is to let yourself go out on that limb, and explore your creativity. It is not crazy and you never know where it will lead!
What have you done that has led you to a place you could not have predicted? What are you exploring now? I would love to hear about your experience below.