Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

To be creative, spill milk!

People afraid to make mistakes are frequently chastised as children for doing something "wrong" that is actually a normal activity.

When we're little, our bodies change daily.

Actually the body changes daily no matter what age we are.

But for young kids, an arm might be ten inches one day, and eleven the next. Thus, they must adjust to their appendage extension, but don't know it until they do something like spill a glass of milk.

Which can excite adults unnecessarily, causing them to raise their voices and make the kid feel as if he or she has done something bad, wrong, or frightening.

The result of this is that it can make the teenagers and adults they become leery of reaching out, of trying something for fear they would make a mistake for which they would be scolded or even punished.

So I have folks I coach spill milk.

I set a glass with a little milk in it on the floor in front of them. They sit in front of the plastic container as I announce I want them to push, punch, kick or topple the glass in some way.

They are *horrified.* Grown men, accomplished women, rebellious teenagers are all aghast at the thought of spilling something on purpose. All the times they were reprimanded for such actions that happened accidentally rush back to them with nightmarish speed.

I tell them, "Time to break out of anything that holds you back from breaking through your creative barriers. This is where it starts. Slam that glass to the floor, spill the milk. Because ... you can always clean up the milk after you've spilled it. That's the way to fix mistakes. You can clean up after yourself. You can learn from them.

But nothing should stop you from trying something you believe necessary to reach your goal. Remember Thomas Edison did not consider the previous 5,999 experiments "failures" before he finally broke through and created a working light bulb after experiment 6,000. He just considered them 5,999 experiments - each of which led to the next, that's all.

After they knock their glass over, the light pours in! "I feel so liberated!"

Then they clean the milk up, the floor is restored to pristine conditions, the glasses washed and put back in the cupboard.

They feel accomplished. Lighter. Ready to dig in and keep at it until they reach their creative or personal goals. They know if they go awry anywhere along the way, they can always clean it up, try again or do something else.

It's such a simple gesture, but carries with it amazing power to propel you forward and expand your horizons.

Spill away! Then, of course, clean it up.

(photo by radarxlove)

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