Put a name to the fear that’s blocking your creativity

How much do you celebrate your creativity? How often do you thank it for being a part of your life and part of your speaking life? And what’s holding you back from tapping in to your creativity – all the time? I want to share some tips I picked up when Elizabeth Gilbert (above) the author of Eat, Pray, Love brought her Big Magic workshop to town.

We are all creative beings. Maybe we cook great meals, or make exquisite quilts, or take photographs, or carve toys, or play instruments, or tend gardens or make amazing speeches. But sometimes we think of our creativity as a luxury. Something to reach for when we have time to spare… when we’ve dealt with the stuff that ‘matters’.

What would your life be like if you committed to living a creative life every moment of every day? If creativity was your first thought, rather than an after-thought. And yes this means accountants, people in technology, the sciences as well as those more inclined to the traditional arts. 

I know there’s a creative part to my make-up. I’ve dabbled in the theatre, in painting, in writing. But as I’ve got busier and busier, I don’t get to say ‘hi’ to my creativity as often as I’d like. So I was an early fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, all about releasing your creative superpowers.

Elizabeth Gilbert with Halina St James
Elizabeth Gilbert (left) with Halina at the workshop

If you know Liz Gilbert’s writings, you won’t need reminding that she wrote Eat, Pray Love, which became a best-seller and a popular movie with Julia Roberts playing Gilbert.

So when Liz Gilbert came to town last week (see photo at top of this post) I signed up for her Big Magic workshop. 

At the heart of the coaching is a series of letters she asks participants to write, and then share with a stranger. Each letter is about one of the obstacles that is holding you back.

The first letter she asked us to write is to our greatest fear. It doesn’t matter what the fear is. It reminded me that in my presentation skills coaching sessions clients would often talk about not being heard, not being valued, not being worthy, not being taken seriously. Whatever your fear, no matter how small, address it.

The second letter is addressed to your enchantments… in other words, talk openly and with gratitude about what gives you joy or what doesn’t give you joy.

The third letter is to your persistence. This is all about what you’ve done or haven’t done to achieve your goals. Pat yourself on the back for something you did that helped, but acknowledge those times when you gave up.

The fourth letter is a letter of permission. You write it from the point of view of someone in authority, giving you permission to do something or not to do something. It could be a parent, a school principal, a minister – anyone whose approval you would like. What you are doing here, of course, is giving yourself permission to follow a course of action.

The fifth letter is all about trust. I think this was my favourite letter. Through the process of honestly writing the other four letters you realize your primary relationship is with yourself. You have had your back always, and you always will. You can trust yourself to do the right thing. And if it turns out badly, you can trust yourself to fix it.

OK, why is this important to speakers and presenters? Because if you are comfortable letting your creativity hang around with you all the time, it will enrich everything you do and say and every encounter you have. 

You’ll stand out from the crowd because your presentations will be more interesting, imaginative, insightful, unusual, appealing… in other words, irresistible to any audience. 

Nobody has the same set of genes and braincells as you. Nobody has your brand of creativity. Creativity is your cutting edge in life. That’s certainly true if you aspire to be a successful speaker or presenter. So use it. 

Don’t settle for second best. Don’t settle for finished. Don’t revert to the way speeches or presentations have always been done. Not when you know how much more creativity you have at your disposal – all the time.

Incidentally, since the theme of the workshop was creativity, it was fitting that the backdrop on the stage was painted by Nova Scotia artist Holly Carr.