Are your beliefs blocking your creativity?

“𝗜 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂.”

It can be a beginning, or an end, or a myriad of things in between.
As I uttered those words this morning, a smile played on my lips.
I could hear the pure dark timbre of my voice reverberating in my chest.
The voice of my heart.

Infinite…
Unconditional…
Unequivocal love.

Who or what was the object of my affection doesn’t matter.

What matters was the surrender.
It was pure, joyful, radiant.

I don’t share this to make you go all doe-eyed or to elicit an obligatory “aww…”
I share this because there was a time when I paid no attention to my spoken voice, and even less attention to my beliefs about creativity.

Creative beliefs - Heart folded page of a book

Back then, my heart lay sunken and heavy in the base of my chest. When I did use it, the cracks were evident. Its brittle, breathless timbre told the tale of a creative writer who’d lost her light.

I was afraid.
I thought I had nothing valuable to offer – except maybe my emotion. But too much emotion makes people uncomfortable, apparently.

These days, it’s hard for anyone to shut me up. But it took time and a willingness to sit with myself in the shadow for that to change.

So this is my challenge to you, budding creator.

Next time you shy away from sharing your story, instead give your voice a stage. Talk out loud. More importantly, listen to the sound. This principle applies to every area of your written communication, but especially on social media, where the opportunity to convey your true intent and win your audience’s heart is fleeting.

I encourage you to find a way to love your voice, and live the creative beliefs that serve you. Sing, read out loud, record videos, make up silly voices. The more you do this, the more you’ll notice when something is a little ‘off’. It will give you the opportunity to nip it in the bud before Godzilla eats the city… and you’ll have fun doing it, I promise!

Trust me on this. But more importantly, trust yourself. Because creating from your heart will serve you in business, and in life.

More thoughts about living an authentic creative life here

Creating content without self-judgement

What do you want to talk about?

One of the most powerful and most untapped benefits of LinkedIn for business owners and professionals is this: you really CAN talk about anything. No topic is too ✨’woo-woo‘✨ or inappropriate (what is an ‘appropriate’ topic anyway?) as long as you keep one thing top of mind. Judgement. More specifically, self-judgement. Because self-judgement is the tsunami that sinks a thousand ships. In this case, your social currency ship.

As a LinkedIn educator, you’d expect me to say that cultivating the right audience is the number one thing to keep top of mind. You’re right. That will always be important. A scatter-gun or hope based strategy wastes your time and that of your audience. But…

As a creator, creating without self-judgement is my true north. It’s the one thing I keep top of mind when I’m writing, above all else.

Why? Because everything else is a technicality. I can give you the latest tools, a sea of tips and lots of pretty, optimised templates, but…

…𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗷𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗜 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗼 𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗺𝗲 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝗰𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴.

Creating content door of your heart light shining through trees in forest

You have to lean in, love yourself and most of all, leave self-judgement out of it. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but guess what? I have your back, and so does your audience. Your audience appreciates authenticity and humility. They’ll ask for more. They’ll even tell others. And after all, isn’t that what social media is MEANT to be about? 😉

 

Want to explore more ideas about creating from the heart? You might like this article

Looking for templates that will help you create LinkedIn posts about any topic quickly and easily, without sounding like a robot? We can help. Just drop us a line here.

Don’t wait for ‘the mood’ to create

Never underestimate the power of your own UNIQUE ENERGY. Whether you OWN IT OR NOT, it shines through in your presence on, and offline – making it a key part of your LinkedIn identity and your content.

The energy of your content is one of the first measures your reader has to gauge your personality, your knowledge and most importantly, what it would be like to work with you.

Your content conveys a myriad of things, like your assertiveness, your attention to detail, how you see yourself in relation to others, and so on.

So if you get a creative block or just don’t feel ‘in the mood’ to create content, there’s a lot at stake. It’s essential to find a way to push through, otherwise your peers and competitors will quickly fill the gap and claim your readers’ attention.

What’s the solution?  

The solution is to embrace the wave, and accept that there will be highs and lows. Ups and downs. We have to keep on creating, especially if it’s our livelihood. But how?

One of the best methods I know is to harness the raw power of my present emotion. Be willing to sit with it for a moment, as I would a good friend. Most importantly, I give it a name.

🔴 Love
🟠 Anger
🟡 Frustration
🟢 Jealousy
🔵 Joy
🟣 Excitement

It is what it is, so don’t demonise it, and don’t wait to be ‘in the mood.’

share speech bubble

Here’s a quick, simple activity you can try right now.

First, name the emotion you’re feeling.

Then, if it’s positive, go on a rampage of APPRECIATION and brainstorm other words you could use to describe it. (synonyms)

On the other hand, if it’s negative, name its OPPOSITE, then follow the steps above.

I love to work with my emotions. Sometimes I sink into them and LUXURIATE, snuggling down as if I’m under a doona, soft and FLUFFY.  Other times, the emotion makes me feel like I’m like a toddler stomping in MUDDY PUDDLES,  a wet, glorious, filthy MESS. If you’ve ever watched Peppa Pig, you know what I mean!

I’m a professional writer, but even I get caught.

Sometimes, my emotions sneak up on me, like they did this morning. As the bedside alarm clock rang out, its melodic sound gently unravelled a tight, tense nightmare which seemed to threaten everything I love.  I lay in its grip, the charred scent  lingering long after I awoke, and an acrid taste on my tongue. All I could recognise was that I felt STONE COLD FEAR.

What was the solution, you ask? Well, I pulled a silly face, said to my cat Lady Gaga and to myself, “not today, fear!”, and then I laughed in the cheesiest, pantomime villain voice I could muster. What a performance.

What do you think the effect of that was? More importantly, how did it make YOU feel?

Explore more ideas about creating content here

Are you making LinkedIn headlines for the right reasons?

Sometimes, the most powerful lessons come from unlikely places.

Thank you, Judith.

In 2008, my grandma’s best friend and neighbour Judith died. She was found in the living room of her small villa unit, a cup of milky tea and her tabby cat Mildred at her side.

Her living room was sparse and dim. Heavy lace curtains muted the sunlight which barely reached her favourite recliner, and the air was always thick with the cloying scent of lilac. She said it suited her, because the soft light made it ‘relaxing’ and the floral aroma reminded her of her mother, who had long since passed.

Most people never saw beyond the living room. They only saw what she wanted them to see: independence. Not the decades of stories that lay beyond those four walls.

She ventured out every day. At 5’10” her tall yet stooped figure, always in pastel colours, would be seen shuffling to the community hall to play bingo or gin rummy. Then she’d shuffle home in time for her daily dinner of lamb chops and boiled vegetables. Always at 4.30pm, and always with the day’s newspaper tucked under her arm.

Judith bought a newspaper every day, because it was what she’d always done. My grandma said she didn’t even read it most days, but every day she went through the motions. Every day, people saw her doing her thing. She’d return to her living room, her milky tea and Mildred and chalk up another day of what she called “dodging the obits.”  (obituaries)

Judith’s measure of success

The newspaper ritual was a measure of success. Judith always believed in keeping up appearances. Her family had given up challenging her habits, so no one spoke about it.

It was my grandma who found her. She already knew about the newspapers, and she knew to leave well alone, but for everyone else who walked through the door after Judith died, the floor to ceiling piles were all they could talk about.

They discovered a history of newsprint spanning not just days, weeks or months, but decades, all carefully closeted behind French bi-fold doors that separated her living room from the rest of the home.

No one understood why. No one except my grandma. Only she saw the yellow-edged envelope that had been laying in Judith’s lap when she died, my grandma’s name scrawled in shaky cursive on the front. When the commotion of questions and busyness subsided, and she and Mildred were finally alone, my grandma opened it.

“Jean my wonderful friend, thank you. For making me laugh, for sharing a sherry or three, and for never asking why. Love, Judith xo 

PS. You’ll probably be asked about the newspapers, to which I say let ’em ask! I never did care for reading the damned things. But it felt nice to have a reason to go out each day, apart from gambling my pension on bingo… ha ha!”

Ginger cat face LinkedIn

The moral of the story

Judith’s tale is no different to many of us on LinkedIn.

Business owners, leaders, marketers all pumping out multiple posts a day, and accepting connections from every Johan, Yiannis and Yolanda. All to create a perception of success and keep up online appearances. But bright shiny posts and 6-figure followings often have little more than a sparkly string of vanity metrics holding them up. No commercial drivers, no revenue.

If commerciality is not your thing, that’s ok. But if you’re frustrated by lack of ROI, or by trying to keep up appearances, I’d say you’re out of alignment.

Every aspect of your LinkedIn presence needs to align with your broader marketing, content and social media strategies. If it doesn’t, you might as well be playing bingo with your time, and your customers.

Are you making LinkedIn headlines for the right reasons? 

 

Get more tips for building your LinkedIn presence here.

Creativity under fire: channeling your inner superhero in challenging times

🎧 Listen to this article on SoundCloud

Can you hear it?

That teeth-grinding, fingernails-scraping-the-blackboard, shiver-down-your-spine, kind of sound?

That’s our global business community.

Slowly. But surely. Decelerating.

Until we hit an all-mighty halt.

>>>THUMP<<<

But as business owners and leaders, we can’t actually stop, can we?

It’s up to us to find a way. Make a way. Be creative.

So what now?

Where are we going to find creativity and produce amazing content when we can’t even get a cup of coffee from our favourite cafe? (Well maybe we can – for now – as long as we aren’t intending to sit down…)

Quote - Words are the voice of the heart - Confucius

I’ll tell you what we can do.

We can go inward.

Yes, I do mean in a spiritual sense. It’s never been more important to reconnect with our inner selves, our own wisdom, our hearts. And with our source – whatever that means for you.

Some things will always be best coming from within.

But sometimes you also have to level up.

Toss on your cape. Unsheathe your sword. Slip on your bullet-deflecting Amazonian Bracelets of Submission.

Ok. Maybe that’s just me. Or Wonder Woman.

But the bottom line is, coronavirus has sunk its claws into life as we know it and it sure ain’t letting go any time soon…

It’s time to cast our creative net a whole lot wider.

So I’ve given myself permission to indulge in some fantasy… Will you join me?

It’s not a path for those who prefer to tread a stoic’s trail, paved by bricks of unwavering certainty and mortar steeped in suffering.

But it’s also not a vista of verdant hills, where fluffy bunnies scamper about and you don your fairy wings to flutter among the wispy white clouds… while the world below, your business, your livelihood, your relationships, go to rack and ruin.

Instead, it’s a path that uplifts and empowers. One that gives us permission to revisit the things that bring us unbridled joy.

Heck. In times like this, I’d even settle for something that elicits a Mona Lisa smile.

I’m not talking about throwing caution to the wind. Or going AWOL.

But sometimes we need to find contrast.

Do the opposite of what’s appropriate and ‘business like’.

Revisit those things we relegated to the far corners of our minds… if you look carefully, you can still catch a glimpse of them… the sparkles that now lie dormant in the fairy dust of a childhood past, along with our comic books and costumes and colouring books.

Past. But not forgotten.

Those things never went away.

The silly movies you watched a million times, the ones that made your belly ache with laughter. The ridiculous games you invented, that held together with nothing but paper clips and imagination. The fantastical storybooks that took you on mystical, magical journeys past, present and future, and had you dreaming of becoming a superhero when you ‘grew up’.

Just because something doesn’t appear to have a direct and obvious commercial purpose, does not mean it is without value.

Especially now.

So…

  • Break out some retro MUSIC. Show your kids how to do Stayin’ Alive like John Travolta. (Did you know the dance has had a revival, thanks to the video game Fortnite?)

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977)

  • Break out some vintage MOVIES. After all… there is only one Bond, James Bond.

The famous opening gun barrel sequence from James Bond
Bond’s famous gun barrel opening credits.

  • Break out the classic NOVELS. Curl up under the covers and journey with Frodo on his epic quest in Lord of the Rings.

Frodo leads his friends to Mordor in Lord of the Rings
Frodo leads a quest to destroy the ring.

My point is this:

Sometimes the best way to reignite our creativity is something far, far away from reality.

Because it’s often in moments of escapism, adventure and nonsense that we find our greatest inspiration.

You can’t be creative when you’re stressed out, anxious, confused. At least not without a whole lot of unnecessary angst, errors and effort.

Yes, it’s been proven by science, no surprises there. Most of us have learned something about the concept of fight or flight response.

But do you know what’s far more important, not just to me, and to you… but to your customers?

The ones who are also struggling right now?

None of them wants to engage in content that was created from a place of fear and dread.

So join me, and give yourself permission to escape reality, just for a moment.

And create from that place instead.

Finding Your Flow: 14 Songs for Content Creators

Each of us has our own unique way of finding focus at work. That perfect setting for achieving maximum productivity and creativity.

For some, it’s total silence. Others are inspired by background chatter and the whir of the espresso machine at their favourite cafe. But music is also a powerful tool for helping you get in flow.

And it’s not just a feeling. Numerous research studies have proven the ability of sound to influence our thought patterns, brain waves and mood. Binaural beats in particular have receive heightened attention recently for their ability to shift thought speed and intensity – though you’ll only reap the full benefit wearing headphones, which isn’t always practical.

So what do people listen to when they want to tune out the world and get things done? Or when they find themselves in a funk and need to inject some energy?

I put the question out to my LinkedIn network recently, and these were the 14 songs that received most votes.

What’s your favourite song for regaining energy, or finding focus? Share it in the comments!

7 Songs for Energy

happy

1.    Happy – Pharrell Williams

2.    I Feel Good – James Brown

3.    Best Day of My Life – American Authors

4.    Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

5.    Let’s Go – Calvin Harris

6.    Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

7.    Only to Be – Six60

7 Songs for Focus

love actually

1.    I Will Be Found – John Mayer

2.    Fields of Gold – Sting

3.    Gayatri Mantra – Deva Premal

4.    Le Telephone Pleure – Claude François

5.    River Flows in You – Yiruma

6.    Claire de Lune – Claude Debussy

7.    Glasgow Love Theme (from the ‘Love Actually’ Soundtrack) – Craig Armstrong

25 Books to Inspire Your Inner Writer

Whether you grew up with Jane Austen or Marvel Comics, there’s no doubt our reading habits have a huge impact on how we view the world, and who we become. What motivates us to read is different for everyone: for some it’s one of life’s simple pleasures, others see it as a chore. For some, it’s a quest for knowledge.

We’re not all destined to become novelists or poets. But in an age where content is king, almost everyone in the business world is now compelled to write. For some this can be terrifying, especially if they’ve convinced themselves, ‘I’m not a writer’. Read more…