Once upon a time, you could do anything. No dragon was a match for your pool-noodle sword. You traveled the galaxy in a dish-towel cape. With your teddy bear sidekick, you saved the day—through play.
Now you’re all grown up, and you earn a living by inventing or writing or speaking or otherwise expressing ideas for an organization or cause. As far as the world knows, your life revolves around ingenuity and expression. You’re a storyteller!
What’s that you say? Your day-to-day experience isn’t quite that fun? Hmm …
You’ve lost that creative oomph.
- Your mind is cluttered with projects and deadlines and analytics and budgets and crises. If your brain is still kindling creative insights, you don’t have a poker long enough to stoke them.
- You’ve been chafed by the approval process so many times your thick skin is marred by scrapes and scabs.
- You stopped pushing back long ago. You just want to pass review. So you play it safe, never writing or saying anything that might raise an eyebrow.
- You don’t see the point in brainstorming. Alternative ideas seldom prevail against “the way we’ve always done it.”
- You write or approve corporate speak (“Going forward, we will leverage synergies and seamlessly align resources to deliver world-class solutions in this space.”) even though you know it’s bullshit.
Even in your so-called “creative” career, you don’t play. You work. And you’ve worked your imagination clean away.
(Know this: If you’re bored, so is anyone on the receiving end of your message.)
But you can get that imagination back. You are capable of more than safe suggestions, predictable approaches, and lukewarm language.
Summon that superhero spirit of your childhood, and take some chances.
Refuse to be boring.
Face yourself in the mirror, assume a power pose, and give yourself a pep talk: “I refuse to be boring!”
Your cynical inner voice is already mumbling discouragement. “Yeah, right. What a bunch of crap. This will never work.” Defy that stick-in-the-mud. Tie on your dish-towel cape and play.
At its best, play needs no instruction manual. But if you need a quick-start guide, try the Storytelling Superpower tips in this info-graphic:
Use that first superpower—time pressure—today. Instead of procrastinating on a first draft you’d rather not write, set a timer for an insanely short time and see what you can do. Three minutes. Go! Suddenly you’re in a race, not a rut.
Let yourself be silly, irreverent, outlandish. As small, playful habits become part of your process, your creative muscles will be stronger, your stories will be more captivating, and you’re bound to have more fun.
Colleagues may wonder what’s come over you. When they ask, brandish your pool noodle and shout, “I’m a Storytelling Superhero!” with your dish-towel cape waving behind you as you leap around the room.
Or smile and say, “I just refuse to be boring. Don’t you?”
Then take your teddy bear sidekick out for a popsicle.
Photo credit: whateverjames via flickr