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Control Your Creativity!

October 2, 2016

​​In January 2005 I sued an ex roommate of mine on the Judge Mathis television show.


In 2004 a coworker and I decided to relocate to the Minneapolis area and seven months after moving up there he owed me $3,500 and we parted ways. I was broke and angry, but knew even if I took him to small claims court and won that there was no guarantee I would get my money. I felt like I was in a no-win situation, until I talked to my buddy Pete.


My buddy Pete shared with me that in college he had some friends in a similar situation. He learned that if you take someone to court on one of the court television shows and win, the show pays your settlement. For how much I wanted to teach my ex roommate a lesson and have him pay me the money he owed me, I wasn't in a position to wait so I started contacting every court show I could find.  Late January 2005 I was flown to Chicago, put up in a fancy hotel downtown and the following day sued my ex roommate on Judge Mathis. I won and within 30 days I received a check in the mail.


The show aired a month later on a Wednesday night at 9PM. I had class that night and the class was scheduled to get out at the same time. During class a classmate and I were talking about leaving early to go somewhere to catch the show. When our professor got wind of this he tried to lay the hammer down and he told us we weren't leaving early to watch "a game". When my classmate clarified for him what we were doing, my professor looked at me and paused and said:


"You're either going to be really successful or end up in jail."


I'll be honest; when he said that to me, I wasn't sure how to take it. The "end up in jail" part caught me off guard, but really what he was doing was complementing me on my creativity. I had a significant challenge and I could have accepted the way it was or taken a normal approach, but none of that was good enough for me. I found a "loophole in the system" and I went through it. People who are creative aren't satisfied with what is in front of them and strive to find other ways to accomplish things. The thought process can be the same for both successful people and criminals. Neither are satisfied with the options in front of them so they find other ways to achieve results.


If you study success, creativity is a foundational trait of people who achieve success and on a much bigger and heavier level, change the world. This was the main point of the 1997 Apple "Think Different" campaign.


"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo."


Creativity Comes at a Cost


As a SOCIAL STYLE certified facilitator I have taken hundreds of people through SOCIAL STYLE; a program designed to enhance our emotional and social intelligence. In a nutshell, 40 years of research says that our observable behavior can be described in one of four ways based on how assertive or passive we are and how emotionally or emotionally controlled we respond to things.


The research and my experience has shown me that creative people tend to be more assertive and emotional than passive and/or emotionally controlled. People who are more assertive and emotional are said to have an Expressive SOCIAL STYLE. People with an Expressive Style tend to be more creative, imaginative and enthusiastic than other Styles. They are also more spontaneous and less likely to follow rules and guidelines. Good or bad, they naturally think "out of the box".


Although there are some great characteristics that come with the assertive and emotional nature of the Expressive Style, their weaknesses that if left unmanaged will hold them back and limit their success. There is a phrase I like to use with people who have an Expressive Style that I believe was first said by Ice Cube.


"You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!"

I say that with a lot of empathy, because I have an Expressive Style. My take is that people who are more emotional have more "stuff" going on in their head than people who are more emotionally controlled. This "stuff" can be a blessing and a curse. It's what allows creative, imaginative and out of the box thinking. However, the same creative, imaginative and out of the box thinking that contributes to our success doesn't exist for the sole purpose of positive outcomes.


The same creative, imaginative and out of the box thinking is also what contributes to emotional people taking things too personally, making assumptions that aren't true, over complicating things with over thinking and creating stories in our heads that undermine our confidence and lead to insecurity. The same thought processes that allow creative people to see things differently for the positive are the exact same processes that lead us to see things differently for the negative. Our creativity can be the source of great success or pain depending on how we control it. The good news is, with practice, we can control it.



Four Ways to Controlling Your Creativity

  1. Make emotional intelligence and self-management a priority.
    The more you understand your natural thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions the better you can manage them, but more importantly allow them to show when appropriate and shine when needed.


  2. Make positive thinking a priority.
    You are a story teller whether you verbalize them or not. You have the ability to use your imagination and create fascinating stories in your head. What are your stories about? Are you creating a positive vision for the future? Or are you creating stories that undermine your confidence and self-worth? The more positive your thinking is, the more positive your stories will be.


  3. Stop taking things so personally.
    Not everything is about you. For all the positives that come with being more emotional and creative, it also contributes to easily taking things way too personally when they were never intended that way. People are not out to get you, however if you see a facial expression or hear a tone of voice you don't like, it's very easy to take it personally and create inaccurate stories in your head.

  4. Stop looking for problems.
    I feel one of the greatest challenges we have as people is to simply be OK with who we are. For someone who is more emotional and creative, I think this can be an even bigger challenge. Again, what stories are playing in your head? Sometimes it's hard to be OK standing still and as a result we are constantly looking for things to fix and ways to improve. We may look for problems and as a result, create problems that never existed. Sometimes we just need to quiet the mind and chill.

Creativity can be a foundational trait of people who achieve success and live a high-quality of life. It can also be a foundational trait of people who experience insecurity and take things too personally. Messages matter and the more creative we are the more creative our internal messaging can be, both positive and negative. The difference maker will be our awareness of it and our commitment to managing and controlling it.


How committed are you to controlling your creativity?

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