Tag Archives: creativity

18 things highly creative people do differently

i recently found a link to an article that i’d sent myself via email 6 months ago. yeah, i have some strange ways of keeping track of things. deal with it.

really insightful and challenging article in huffpo about the 18 things highly creative people do differently. i think i’m somewhat creative; and i do some of the things on this list pretty regularly. but i would be exponentially more creative if i leaned into these babies a bit more. click through to read the whole article (it’s really worth it, and an easy read); but here’s a list of the 18 habits:

  1. They daydream.
  2. They observe everything.
  3. They work the hours that work for them.
  4. They take time for solitude.
  5. They turn life’s obstacles around.
  6. They seek out new experiences.
  7. They “fail up.”
  8. They ask the big questions.
  9. They people-watch.
  10. They take risks.
  11. They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
  12. They follow their true passions.
  13. They get out of their own heads.
  14. They lose track of the time.
  15. They surround themselves with beauty.
  16. They connect the dots.
  17. They constantly shake things up.
  18. They make time for mindfulness.

Orbiting the Hairball: Innovation without Disconnection (part 2 of 3)

(part 1 of this series explored the need for most of us, despite the desire to be innovators, to stay connected to our organizations via the gravitational pull of orbiting.)

corrosionForces that Corrode Innovation
Even in the orbit, I have to be intentional about resisting the hairball’s pull. I’ve noticed a handful of things I have to be particularly cautious about.

The Love of New
I have a short attention span, and am constantly drawn to the next new thing (whether it’s a youth ministry idea or a smart phone). Whatever good or broken thing in me drives this has to be stabled from time to time.

New for the sake of new causes all kinds of problems. When I live this way, and think this way, I hurt people. I get more interested in the new thing than in people. I both reflect and add to our cultural obsession with acquiring new things and discarding (potentially good) old things. I set myself up to miss out on the beauty of stillness and unchanging. I get ruthlessly dismissive about what was good. I have, in the name of new, tossed many an archetypal baby out with bathwater that was hurl-worthy.

My Own Insecurities
I can be a bull in a china shop, to be sure; but sometimes only because I like being perceived as the kind of guy who’s willing to be that bull.

In my desire to be innovative, my insecurities work against me in two ways:

First, my insecurities and desire for approval fuel me to innovate merely so I will be perceived as an innovator. Seriously, how lame is that? Surely, any innovation born out of that motivation will be short-lived at best, or hollow and hurtful at the worst.

On the other side of the equation, my insecurities work against me to curb innovation. The thinking that lurks in my subconscious says, “In this case, it would be easier and safer to retreat to the majority way or the old way where tried and true measures of success are more predictable.

A Desire for Security
The professionalization of youth ministry brought some undeniable changes. But, in many ways, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to youth ministry. When we are—when I am—being paid to do youth ministry, our innovation muscles are unavoidably restrained.

I find this a tension regularly in my work with The Youth Cartel. I deeply desire for us to “instigate a revolution in youth ministry.” But I also need to figure out how to pay my mortgage, and pay my daughter’s upcoming college tuition. There’s great job security in not being a boat rocker.

Fear of Being Marginalized
I’ve been confronted with my fears at a much more visceral level since I lost my job at Youth Specialties more than three and a half years ago. My fears sort of sicken me; but as I’ve identified them, they’ve played a wonderful role in my pursuit of humility.

I know I have an almost insatiable desire to live larger-than-life. The squiggly thing under the rock is my fear of being forgotten, marginalized, lacking influence. It’s a counter-productive fear, and it stunts my creativity.

You might not share this exact same fear (though I think it’s common to the majority of youth pastors). But, what I’ve so strongly found in the coaching and consulting work I do these days is that every organization and every leader carries with them fears that are more than willing to stifle creativity and innovation, truncate risk, and derail deep transformation. Being honest about your fears, when it comes to change and risk, is a critical component of maintaining orbit around the hairball.

next up, in part 3: Two Essential Thrusters for Sustaining Orbit

mini book reviews, part 2 (of 2)

seriously, where else would these three books be reviewed together?

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace, by Gordon MacKenzie
5 stars

several years ago, when i became the president of youth specialties, mcnair wilson suggested i needed to read this book. it’s one of very, very few books i’ve ever read three times (the current time was because i assigned it as reading for my youth ministry coaching program cohort, and had to re-read it to be prepared for the book discussion). it is such a brilliantly unique little book. the very form of the book models the point of the book (and how rare is that!?). mackenzie spent most of his adult life working at hallmark cards, where he moved through a variety of creative roles, ending in a strange “listening” role with a title he gave himself: creative paradox (seriously, that was his job title). at its core, the book is about creativity. but it’s central theme is that all organizations (and believe me, you church workers will resonate with this) naturally become ‘hairballs’ of policy, procedure, expectations, rules, assumptions, and org charts. in order to maintain creativity while being part of a human organization, one must move into orbit. the orbit has a gravitational pull that keeps you connected to the organization. getting pulled into the hairball isn’t good; but shooting off on your own trajectory — breaking with gravity — isn’t good either. more inspirational than practical, the book will stir your imagination, and get you longing for those days when you live into the creative being you were made to be.

Bite Me: A Love Story, by Christopher Moore
4 stars

chris moore is, hands down, no competition, absolutely, without question, the funniest novel writer living today. i like funny books. and i’ve read a bunch of ’em, by a bunch of authors. there are many funny authors. but no one comes close to chris moore. the other day, my son asked me what some of my all-time favorite books were, and the first one i mentioned was moore’s lamb: the gospel according to biff, christ’s childhood pal. max asked why it was on my list, and i responded that no other book is both so insightful and so drop-dead hilarious. all that said, even moore — who in his less-than-best books is still hilarious — can’t get 5 stars on every book. he’s written a couple vampire stories in a row, and i sincerely hope it’s not a lazy rut, brought on by our current national obsession with all things fanged. set, again, in san francisco, but narrated by a teenage girl who is a shockingly annoying proto-goth wannabe vampire (and, for a few chapters, a shockingly annoying proto-goth actual vampire), moore invents wonderfully unique characters and re-introduces characters from previous books. he regularly introduces plot turns and turns-of-phrase that leave my head spinning with “how did he ever come up with that!?” so, not moore’s most inventive work, since it follows the same basic formula and setting as his last (without actually being a sequel). but, even a not-as-inventive chris moore book is wildly more inventive and hilarious than most.

Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir, by Susan E. Isaacs
4 stars

isaacs has written one of those rare spiritual memoirs — like anne lamott and others — that are completely jesus-y, but still fall outside the mainstream of what would be published by most evangelical book publishers. it’s a jesus-y book with a massive dose of snarkiness and a smattering of swearing. unlike lamott, isaacs is a cradle christian wrestling with holding onto a faith (and an association with the church) that is simply not working for her — one in which she blames god for the series a deep frustrations she’s experiencing in life. she weaves the tale, primarily, through a series of scripted marital counseling sessions, with three primary voices: her own, that of her therapist, and the voice of god (and occasionally the voice of jesus). she admits, and her therapist regularly reminds her, that the voice of god is not really the voice of god, but the voice of her interpretation of god. as isaacs slowly, in fits and starts, moves toward a new kind of re-engaged and sustainable faith, her voice of god seems to come more and more into alignment with what god would actually say. she’s a very funny writer (with a background in acting, screenwriting, and improv comedy). and she pulls no punches when taking swings at the parts of the church that mislead, abused, or annoyed her. the resolve is somewhat to-be-expected, but still a good reminder of truth. maybe i don’t need to read books that confirm my own snarkiness; but maybe it’s a good mirror.

an odd congomeration of diverse bits, part 1 (of 2)

here’s a weird little collection of things i’ve thought about posting, but haven’t gotten around to…

a new friend of mine, jeff goins, who i met through my work with adventures in missions, has written a fantastic manifesto published on the provocative website, change this. my understanding is that the first week jeff posted this, it was in the #1 spot. in typical “change this” format, it’s a dense deck of slides with right-to-the-point text.

jeff’s manifest (which you need to click through and read), is: Wrecked for the Ordinary – A manifesto for misfits
here’s the summary page
or, just download it here

here’s a tease:

Something is missing. Something important. Something necessary to making a difference in the world. And most are afraid to find out what it is.

This is a manifesto about the discovery process of finding what’s missing. It’s not as glamorous as a get-rich-quick scheme or as mystical as New Age spirituality. It doesn’t shine with the veneer of a car salesman’s suit or catch your eye like a pretty girl.

No, it more likely grabs your attention like a week-old bag of garbage sitting in the corner or piques your interest like nails on a chalkboard. Yes, it’s hard, but it can’t be denied.

OH, and check out “wrecked“, a site dedicated to this kind of thinking.
also, check this out: jeff’s post about how and why to write a manifesto.

jon acuff is right when he says this is an amazing ted video about creativity. it has already shifted how i think about creativity in my life (and the lives of others).


the story behind queen’s “bohemian rhapsody“. i got a kick out of watching this 6 part you-tube series (of a bbc documentary) of the story behind the song and the groundbreaking video.