We often wonder if people will accept our ideas or criticize them. This fear can halt us from utilizing our creative expression, which ultimately affects how we innovate. When our creativity is encouraged, it can have a positive impact.
When coming up with new ideas, early encouragement gives you the motivation to repeat them. In my seventh-grade art class, my teacher was showing us how to cut linoleum blocks. Being a boy scout, this was a natural thing for me, and I enjoyed experimenting with it. With the knife and the block, I constructed a dragon’s head that I used for stamping. The teacher liked the dragon head I created and showcased my work to the entire class.
Unknown to me, she submitted one of my prints to a local art contest, and I placed towards the top of the competition. I still have that linoleum block on my bookshelf, and it continually reminds me of that first level of encouragement I received. What she did can be applied to putting innovative ideas out there.
The Power of Encouragement
The question of today is how to encourage creative expression. Showing people that linoleum block I made was risky, as students could have laughed at it. However, I am glad my teacher showcased it because it encouraged me in a way that I didn’t think it could. I would love to go back to jr. high and thank my teacher for her encouragement, but unfortunately, I cannot. I can, however, pass on what she did for me by paying it forward to others.
When you see someone being highly creative and coming up with ideas, be encouraging to them. It would help if you were an encourager of others as it holds a lot of value. People don’t often realize that words go a long way. However, keep in mind that you should refrain from false platitudes as they decrease the value of your encouragement.
When giving an encouraging word, remember to explain why you are giving this encouragement. Ask questions such as how they came up with the idea. Please provide feedback on how they can do it better but do so in a positive way. Don’t be afraid to spread awareness about other people’s ideas as well.
While encouraging creative expression is essential, being able to receive it also holds importance properly. Many people suffer from imposter syndrome, which makes it hard for them to receive encouragement. People with this syndrome are afraid of taking any credit for their successes. These people feel as if they just got lucky and don’t deserve any of their accomplishments. In this occurrence, our irrational mind tries to credit something else with our success.
I am a big sufferer of imposter syndrome and gave a TEDx talk on the syndrome years back. The experience is where I draw my knowledge on this topic. When people encourage your creative expression, it is crucial to avoid this pitfall. It would be best if you assumed people have positive intent when encouraging you. Ask why they responded the way they did about your ideas and use it as a learning experience.
At this point in my career, I am not the one coming up with many ideas. I build teams and encourage those teams to come up with ideas that turn into innovations. My role is attracting the right talent, creating a solid funding base, protecting from outside antibodies, and being an encourager to my team.
You may think of me as an extroverted person. I’ve done speeches, hundreds if not thousands of YouTube videos, a radio show, this podcast, etc. The reality is that I am an introvert and am happy being a homebody. I have to work extra hard to be the encourager to those doing interesting work. Encouraging people online tends to be a lot easier but can lead to comparison, which leads to discouragement.
We discussed not letting social media be your validation on a recent show. My friend Ernie, who worked with me at HP, is a great photographer. He spends a lot of time travelling and taking extraordinary photos. I follow him on Instagram, where I post photos that I take as well. When Ernie likes my photos, it is a form of encouragement to me.
Encouragement is a learning opportunity. Remember that you should not expect anything in return for giving out encouragement. Focus on genuine encouragement because it holds meaning. I challenge you to take the next step and encourage people’s creative expressions wherever you find yourself today.
To know more about the power of creative expression, listen to this week's show: Why Creative Expression is Important.