Have you found the creativity formula?
Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent
to the dark place where it leads.” ~ Erica Jong
During the years I was asleep at the helm of my life, I felt as if I were being dragged behind an out-of-control speedboat from sunrise to sunset. I was always “ON” and at full speed, choking in the wake and slamming into waves in circles.
I can remember being tired deep into my bone marrow—a fatigue that felt centuries old and impossible to lose.
“My brain feels red and as if it’s melting,” I said to a friend at the gym one day.
He looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Maybe slow down a bit? All I see you do is run.”
I pulled the bar down in front of me, elbows tucked into my sides, and said, “I can’t … there’s so much to do … I can’t stop long enough to get out of it … above it … to see how in the hell to fix it.”
I didn’t dare turn to see the look on his face. I was wallowing in victimhood. It was simultaneously delicious and sickening, like having eaten a third cookie.
I had no idea how effective the design and execution of my daily life and work were in ensuring I was as distant from my creativity formula, abundance, joy, and flow as possible. Oddly, going there—a life of ease—required more than awareness and a balcony perspective.
It required courage.
And since I was fresh out of that, I had to lean into someone else’s until I could become my own powerplant, producing my own energy, clarity, and strength.
On a frosty, early morning looking out onto a Connecticut harbor, my business coach asked me how much time I spent each day in my zone of genius. I stared at her, blinking. Genius? What? I watched her sketch a quick drawing on a flipchart, and a zingy, electric buzz of deep resonance hit me, jolted me, upright.
It was a defibrillator to my mind and heart.
I could see immediately that I had been living an upside down life, and I knew there was a path to the exit.
Ideally, we should spend at least 80% of our time working from our zone of genius; that is, doing the work that lights us up so much that we’d even do it for free.
I did some rapid calculations and could see that I was spending 8-10 hours every day doing work that drained and frustrated me (administrative and office management tasks) and only 2-3 hours doing the lucrative work that also lit me up (setting strategy, marketing, and negotiating). No wonder my creativity formula was off.
Several months after that morning, I hired an Operations Manager and turned over every single task I either hated or was not naturally wired to do. By year’s end, I had quadrupled my income and was working an average of 4 days a week.
While I finally felt human again, with space and time to breathe, I realized something was still off. Once I had created a business structure that allowed me time to think, I could feel ghosts hovering and lurking in the wings of my perception.
When I turned to see who/what was there, they’d slip behind the curtains and out of sight.
In hopes of finding answers, I followed an urge to do something I hadn’t done for years: travel to Europe.
One night, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, I watched boats, their lights reflecting on the water’s surface, glide over the Seine. I was there to set intentions for my life—to speak my truth over the rooftops in my favorite city in the world.
I had spent days soaking up all of the beauty of Paris in museums, cafes, shops, parks, and on long strolls, getting lost on purpose. The only agenda I had was to let the city work its magic on me.
“Creative expression,” I heard myself say in the darkness. “Life as art form. Joy in the everyday moments. Celebration of unexpected beauty. Adventure. Connection. Living in accord with my true self.”
I pulled my journal from my purse and wrote in the tower’s amber light. My hand shook as I scribbled down all the lessons Paris had revealed to me over the course of the week. Each was a clue providing me the direction I should turn toward to find another piece of the puzzle.
Let’s look at that 80/20 sketch again. This time, consider the formula from the perspective of loving your life.
Does your experience of daily living reflect 80% of your time being in a state of buoyant creativity? Of adventuring? Of joyful connection?
If not, start close in with the messages your ghosts have for you. Listen. It’s not that we don’t know what our purpose is … we simply have forgotten it.
It’s all still there, waiting for us to become conscious again. To awaken to what surrounds us. To face with courage that dark place our creativity takes us, leaving us on the shore … breathless and shaken.
We find the daylight to be brightest after our night vision has been tested. That’s the true creativity formula.