You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” ~ Excerpt from “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
The room in the Palm Beach Convention Center, filled to its 10,000-person capacity, vibrated and shook with energy and anticipation. Tony Robbins bounded onto the stage, and everyone rose with hands in the air, dancing, jumping, and screaming.
It was the opening day of Unleash the Power Within.
Over the course of the next four days, we were treated to high-energy coaching, enormous passion, and vulnerability. We were taught how to control our physiological and mental states, fire walk, release our past, and find our best path forward via a concert-like experience.
The event profoundly transformed my life.
As much as I was astounded and empowered to learn how to change my state to such an extent that I could walk barefoot across hot coals and not get burned, one seemingly mundane exercise would come to have a huge impact on me. The introduction to the six human needs (and how they drive our lives), as well as how to leverage that knowledge, took my life to an entirely new level of understanding, joy, and success.
According to Tony Robbins, there are six human needs that drive all of our behavior: certainty/comfort (the need to feel in control and have basic comfort), uncertainty/variety (the need to have a lot of change and variety), significance (the need to feel special, unique, or important), love & connection (the need to give and receive love), growth (the need to learn and grow), and contribution (the need to give).
Before we took the quiz together to determine our top human need, I sat mulling and pondering. I guessed my lead need to be growth (I love, love, love learning new things and stretching myself beyond what I think I am capable of doing), followed closely by love & connection.
My quiz results stunned me: my lead human need turned out to be uncertainty/variety!
It took most of the rest of the day for me to fully grasp what this meant. Once I got it—really got it—I understood for the first time in my life the whys beneath how I choose to move in the world, my passions, and my approach to work and play. (Curious about what your driving force is? Click here to take the free quiz.)
Perhaps most importantly, knowing my top driving force unlocked and illuminated my process for creativity. And once I knew that, I could set the table for my creativity and bring it to the fore any time I desired.
Let’s consider Mary Oliver’s charge (from her poem “Wild Geese”) to “let the soft animal of our body love what it loves.” Apply this dictum to our creative selves. We find it reveals to us what truly inspires us, signals the Muse, and seats us powerfully and centered into our authentic selves.
If we take this knowledge and combine it with our top human need, we have profound insight into what constitutes our signature recipe for fostering a synapse-firing, dopamine-rich journey of expressing ourselves creatively.
For example, a partial list of what the soft animal of my body loves includes the following: beauty, art, color, design, fashion, film, light, music, nature, solitude, stimulating conversation, books, language, teaching, writing, creating (and eating) delicious food, travel, deep connection and time with those I love, laughter, photography, movement, adventure, learning, being of service, the tools of creativity, and speaking.
Blending both sets of data now, I can generate, at will, a Muse-evoking environment if I immerse myself in an ever-changing variety of what the soft animal of my body loves.
The key is to know how important variety is (for me) in inspiring optimized conditions for prompting ideas, connections, and creative expression. This explains why when I travel (and am engaged in multiple activities I love in a variety of novel situations and places), I experience a fire hose of creative ideas and output.
I have Proustian stream of consciousness connections, one after another. Ideas for blog posts, business offerings, copy, and even parenting breakthroughs come at all hours of the day and night. My brain is ablaze with interesting thought and possibility.
It is an intoxicating, supremely delicious state of being. Work is effortless as I bob up and down in a sea of electric, yet content, creativity.
How can you create such an exhilarating state of creative ease for yourself?
Let’s look at a few ideas for how to delight our Muse through the lens of the other human needs:
- Certainty/Comfort. Determine the specific conditions that make you feel safe and secure. Create a nest filled with all your creature comforts and make that area and/or that scenario your zone for creating.
- Significance. Find outlets (with a particular interest in your kind of art) in advance of your creating that would shine a light on your work (and then build to suit).
- Love & Connection. Define who your ideal audience is, keep them top of mind, and create just for them with your heart full of love for them.
- Growth. Find challenging creative projects that will teach you new, transformational information and skills.
- Contribution. Get supremely clear on exactly how you want to be of service to the world, and then create things from those altruistic depths.
I’m curious: what does the soft animal of your body love? When you blend those things with your top human need, what does that tell you about how to design your life so that it is most conducive to inspiring your creative expression and passionate joie de vivre?
Remember this: the divine force of creativity always wants to play with us. We often unknowingly turn away, close the door, and/or design our days in such a way that we cannot establish an easy rhythm that is in sync with our Muse.
If you are ever frustrated or angered by being stuck, that is your signal to go back to the drawing board and design anew—keeping what you love and what drives you—top of mind.