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Is Creativity a Binary Concept or on a Spectrum?

Is Creativity a Binary Concept or on a Spectrum?

My 11-year-old son is on the autism spectrum. As I’ve engaged more deeply with people on the spectrum, especially the young, I’ve noticed that autism manifests uniquely in each individual. It’s not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis; there’s a spectrum of behaviors and traits.

This observation has led me to reflect on how we often perceive many aspects of life in binary terms: black or white, yes or no, up or down. However, reality seldom fits neatly into these categories. More often than not, the answer lies in shades of maybe rather than absolute yes or no.

My wife is well aware of my tendency to operate in extremes. I am either fully engaged or completely detached, rarely finding a middle ground. This got me thinking about creativity and whether we view it as a binary concept.

Is creativity really black and white?

It’s intriguing that in a society with many artists and creatives, we often overlook the complexity of creativity itself. We tend to categorize people as either creative or not, without recognizing the spectrum of creativity that exists. You are not simply an artist, the epitome of creativity, or just plain not creative. Just as individuals on the autism spectrum exhibit diverse traits, each of us carries the creative DNA of our Creator and have a diversity of creativty baked within us. We all have at least a drop of creative potential because we are made in the image of God.

For some, creativity manifests in visible talents like illustration or performance. For others, it may remain hidden and, consequently, undernourished. The diversity of gifts and talents God bestows upon us is meant to be utilized and stewarded uniquely by each person, much like our unique fingerprints.

But what does creativity look like if you’re not someone who typically thinks of yourself as creative?

Accountants, spend time creatively developing efficient systems and processes, finding ways to minimize tax liabilities, identifying innovative solutions for financial analysis and reporting. Mechanics are like artists when they are troubleshooting complex mechanical issues, finding creative workarounds when missing certain parts, and improvising tools and techniques for specific repairs.

If you’ve ever seen a chef creating a beautiful meal, it’s clear why they call it the culinary arts. Or consider a teacher designing engaging lesson plans, finding creative uses of simple school supplies to create something beautiful with their students, or developing teaching methods to suit different learning styles through differentiated instruction.

Sales people develop innovative marketing strategies, administrative assistants find creative ways to prioritize tasks, and adapting care plans to meet individual needs as a nurse are just a few examples of how many “non-creatives” go unnoticed as some of our most brilliant creative minds. We should all recognize that we were made by a God who not only embodies creativity but who pours it into His creation and calls us to harness it.

One of the greatest tragedies of the human experience can be forgetting, or worse, never realizing our human potential.

Those who have been deemed creatives often see their creative potential with bright and bold eyes looking to tap into it, but many who have falsely received the designation of “non-creative” tend leave that box unexamined. As a result, the world doesn’t get to experience the fullness of the creativity within them. Non-creatives, you have been living creatively since your birth. Now it’s time to embrace and nurture it. Who knows how far we, as God’s finest creation, can go.

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Is Failure a Reflection of Who You Are?

Is Failure a Reflection of Who You Are?

This week, the blog lost its first subscriber.

If I’m going to be honest, that’s disappointing, especially since it hasn’t been in existence that very long.
When I checked in on the subscriber list and I saw that lonely number one next to the amount of unsubscribers, it made me feel a certain kind of way.

It was tapping into the people pleaser in me, the insecure me, and the version of me that wants to create something that every person that engages with it will passionately love.
The reality is, with every single creation, there’s essentially a handful of different responses. There’s variations of yes, variations of no. And then variations of wow. And of course, we’re going for the wows. But what happens when you get the no’s?
It definitely goes in my box that seems to continually be growing called failures. And here’s the truth that I think we all need to hold on to today.
Failures that remain in your box can be lessons that you learn from. You can choose to pick up the box and open it and educate yourself with its contents in the same way that people would use a textbook.
However, if failure becomes a coat or a badge of sorts, it becomes something that you walk around with, that you carry as a part of who you are. And that is an unhealthy place.
Failure should never be received as a scarlet letter or a personal identifier, but simply an event. And the beauty is we can learn from events. We can grow from events. We can’t learn and grow from parts of who we are.

 

So it’s important that we keep failure in an educational box and not in that wonderful little transparent part of our wallet that holds the ID. Failure is not who we are.

Don’t do the work of the enemy and receive failure as an internal reality. It is through internalizing failure that we end up doing the worst service of all to ourselves: Extinguishing hope.
Christ-centered creatives, we must recognize our hope is in Christ. That any failures are not personal, are not permanent, and are not pervasive. And if each of those are not true, failure is something that we can learn and recover from.

But the moment it becomes personal, we believe the failure to be who we are. The moment it becomes permanent, we believe this failure to be something that we can never change. And the moment it becomes pervasive. We believe that every aspect of our reality is a failure.

So no matter if the failure you’ve experienced is losing a subscriber, finding someone giving you a “no” to your creation, losing a huge client in your business, or finding that your business needs to close…

Remember this, it’s not personal. It doesn’t reflect on who you are at your core.
It’s not permanent. This is something that there is hope for change. Things that have ended can be reborn. You can grow beyond this.
And it’s not pervasive. This is verifiably a singular event.

As you continue to learn and grow, you can be sure that there will be other places where you fail. But don’t ever receive the lie that you are a failure.
And hey, an appropriate response to this could be to subscribe to the blog LOL. Sorry, I couldn’t help it with the shameless plug.

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Is Time Running Out to Pursue Your Dreams?

Is Time Running Out to Pursue Your Dreams?

Happy birthday to me. That’s right. Today I completed my 46th revolution around the sun. LOL.
And I have to tell you, I feel every bit of it. Something about being out of shape and exhausted. It really makes you feel your age. But what I want to talk about today, especially I think as it comes to, you know, those folks who have so many creative ideas, is about a sense of urgency. You know, there’s nothing that can awaken a sense of urgency in you like reminders of the fragility and the preciousness of time.
You know, as I woke up today after not sleeping so great last night, I really felt like there’s not as much time left as I wish.
I’d love to think that I’ve got another 46 years in me. But that would make me 92. And I’ve got to believe that in a very real sense, the largest part of my best days are behind me.
I don’t mean to try and make this post a depressing one. But it is one of those moments that reminds me that I need to move forward in my plans. Because you never know when you will celebrate your last birthday. So in this brief blog post today, I just want to leave you all with this. Think about the things that you’ve envisioned. Think about the dreams that God has put on your heart. And now stop thinking about them and go and do them.
I don’t want to be 60, 70, and living with regrets for all that I did not accomplish. But even worse, I don’t want to be in a casket at 47 with so many things left undone.
All we have is this current moment. Let’s treasure it and make it count.

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Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” – Martin Luther

Having a wild, creative nature is a beautiful thing. Consider icons like Frida Kahlo or Pablo Picasso. These individuals embodied a wildly creative mindset. But I wonder, to what degree did they have to develop leadership for that creativity to get the most out of it?

Imagine if Steve Jobs never focused on developing the iPod, or if Einstein never honed his thoughts on relativity. What if Frida never dedicated herself specifically to her craft with her brush?

I believe our most impactful creative works lie on the other side of our most intentional decisions regarding our creative thoughts. It is through this thought work—this warfare on the battlefield of our mind—that we achieve victory. Jesus reminds us that we can hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

This is the heart of meditation that I am drawn to—not necessarily the act of emptying your mind, but the act of deciding what your mind will dwell on. Many Eastern and New Age meditations talk about an emptiness of mind during meditation. However, as I explored these practices to quiet my mind, I realized that the actual work involves focusing my mind on specific things. Instead of dwelling on random thoughts, my mind focuses on the environment and being present, rather than on the thoughts that tend to occupy it.

This realization has shown me that meditation is not about emptiness, but about fullness. It’s about what your mind is filled with. What your mind is filled with in each moment determines your focus. That focus, that mental dwelling, is what you are giving your peace, your heart, and in many senses, your future.

Instead of trying to keep my mind empty for peace, I want to dwell, focus on, and stay filled with Christ and the thoughts He would have me meditate on. To chew on, to ruminate over, to remain abiding and dwelling in Him for all of my days.

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