Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Feeling like you don't know something or what to do can be anxiety producing. What if I told you there was another way to think about these periods of uncertainty. More and more, I'm learning about how our brains work when we're faced with a challenge. I'm most interested in how this fuels creativity. I'm not thinking specifically about artistic endeavors (often artistry and creativity are conflated), but I'm considering a broader definition of creativity that solves big problems and is the source of major breakthroughs. Like Nelson Mandela said once "It always seems impossible until it's done."
Think about the following unknowns for each of the occupations below. These are relatively common unknowns for these jobs and are often obstacles that interfere with progress....or do they?
How can I make something with limited ingredients?
How will gravity impact my project?
What's a unique way to describe a common event?
How can I convey an emotion in my art?
Each of these unknowns has been the source of a breakthrough. When Italian Restauranteur Caesar Cardini was overrun with American tourists late at night and short on supplies, he concocted a dish with stalks of lettuce, olive oil, raw egg, croutons, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. It was a huge hit, but I can only imagine his dilemma looking into his nearly bare kitchen. It was the unknown that was a source for a classic dish, The Caesar Salad.
Or, take the Narrows Bridge that collapsed once near Tacoma, Washington. The engineers had to consider how to build a new bridge to withstand the wind gusts that toppled it's predecessor. The solution -- grates in the bridge deck to allow the wind to pass through without creating the weakening lift that created the instability.
Consider Harper Lee's description of Scout feeling panic as a 'bird fluttering in her chest'. And don't forget the countless works of art that evoke powerful emotions are just too many to list, but we've all been moved by a painting, sculpture, music, dance or other form of art.
So, what does this have to do with you finding a breakthrough? My challenge to you is to consider where you're feeling stuck because you're not sure what to do. This is the time to consider how you can move forward using creativity. Maybe you have limited resources like Caesar Cardini. What can you do with what you already have? Or, maybe you're trying to solve a business challenge. Who are your customers? Where do your ideal customers go? Find them there, either virtually or in person. It's when we don't know that we're most likely to have a breakthrough.
When we come to a place of not knowing, we're actually staring directly at a gift. We have the opportunity to create something from what we know, in a way that hasn't been done before and that's AMAZING. It's so easy to fall into the mindset of a victim when we don't know what to do, but that's the exact moment that we need to hit the accelerator on our creativity and seek the breakthrough that's right there, waiting for us!
"You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."
-Glinda the good witch