A few years ago a creative genius named Tom Morely told me -- in much nicer words than these -- that I was an uptight square and lacked imagination. I responded by studiously avoiding any contact with him for the next 12 months. Of course this wasn't so difficult given that he lived in London and I in Texas.
We next met on a course called Seven Days of Creation in England. I had thought often about Tom's feedback to me but I still wasn't taking it all that well. I knew I had something to learn from him, but I freely admit I was being dragged to the learning kicking and screaming like a little boy to a bath.
As luck -- and the trainers -- would have it, Tom and I were assigned to a project along with two other members of the group. Doing this project with my group opened my eyes to the creativity within me but perhaps more importantly, I found myself grateful and humbled by the rare gift of someone who cared enough about me to help me see my blind spots. At our project's successful end, I saw both Tom and myself through different eyes.
A year or so later while working, I had what could fairly described as a break-down. Through a series of teachable moments, I had finally come face to face with my own propensity toward rigidness and driven-ness -- and it was not pretty. The cold hard truth was difficult to face alone so I called up my friend Tom. I asked him for some straight up advice -- how could I break the back of the accusations in my mind that kept pushing me toward perfectionism and away from creativity?
His advice was practical. He said that in his own life whenever he found himself stuck in a corner with either no way out or only one way out, he knew he needed to collaborate. He said that when he brought other people into the conversation (rather than it all being between him and his ego!), creativity flourished and driven-ness wilted.
That has turned out to be one of the most life-giving things I have ever learned. Some times it takes some discipline to choose to collaborate and at times some creativity to decide whom to ask, but there is a big payoff for doing so. Every time I take a "problem" and turn it into an opportunity to collaborate, it becomes a party. It's mind-boggling.
Earlier this week, my Wii died. This is more serious a problem than it sounds, because my Wii Fit Plus was my entire plan for exercise the next day. I woke up the next morning pretty grumpy and seeing that corner. So as I often have in the past couple of years, I remembered Tom's advice. I messaged several of my friends and asked for help. By the end of the day I had burned more than 800 calories and had an absolute ball doing it. It was fun. In fact, it was a blast!
So the next time the corners of your mouth are pointing down and your jaw is tight, take Tom's advice. Look and see with whom you can collaborate and turn that problem into a party. Cheers!
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