Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 1: Pursue What Matters in Love and Work

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
How are you avoiding your gifts, your creativity? You have a work you are put on this planet to do. And when you avoid your work, you become a liar to yourself.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:15
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Okay, so I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding my work. Can you relate? I mean, I haven’t been avoiding work. I’ve been working hard. I mean, I’ve been avoiding my work, my creative work, the work that lights me up, that energizes me the work that I dream about. Do you have work like that? Whoo, I’m talking about creative work. And today, I want to talk about why you must make time and space for creative work, or it will destroy your soul.

Dr. Melissa Smith 1:22
Okay? Now, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Yes. But I’m also dead serious about it. Because here’s the thing, folks, you were put on the planet to be creative. It’s why you are here. It’s why each of us are here. And yet, if you’re not careful, fear will crush the light out of your creativity. Fear will tell you that you have nothing to offer. Nothing worth sharing. You cannot pay it any heed. You cannot listen, how do I know this? How do I know this? Because I have been avoiding my own work. I know this is true. Because I know that fear has been getting the best of me. And so I come to you, as one who knows that you’ve got to make time for creativity. And I come to you in the trenches. Because I know that fear can be a worthy opponent. And it can tell us that we don’t have anything of worth to offer. And it will make a liar out of us. And it’s just dead wrong. So Brene Brown taught, as long as we’re creating, we’re creating meaning. Creativity really takes us to purpose. And of course, that’s what we’re interested in.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:52
And each week, right with the podcast, I’m interested in helping you pursue what matters I’m interested in helping you lead with confidence, I try to do that in one of three ways. leading with purpose. Right, which is to help you lead with clarity, leading with curiosity, which is to help you develop self awareness, and leading a community. And today in particular, I really want to help you not only lead with clarity, to understand purpose, and to understand the role that creativity has and helping you connect to your unique purpose, but also to leave with curiosity, because this is the thing about creativity. It is all about curiosity. We have to learn to quiet ourselves, we have to learn to quiet the critic. And if you’re like me, you got a pretty strong critic in your head. I hate that I have a strong critic in my head, but I do. And creativity requires us to quiet the critic. So again, from Brene Brown, “unused creativity is not benign. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment, and fear.” And one more quote from her, “the only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.” Those are powerful words. And so I hope that you know, when you when you heard this podcast, are you making time for creativity, that you didn’t dismiss it that you didn’t think? Oh, okay, well, you know, like, I don’t, I don’t draw or I’m not an artist. And so, this podcast isn’t for me. Creativity takes so many different forms. And that the idea that we as humans are creative beings, we are meant to create And it’s it’s part of how we fulfill our purpose in this world, and that if we’re not intentional about it, right, it’s going to be hard for us to fulfill our purpose in life. And so I hope you will take this seriously, I hope you will pay attention.

Dr. Melissa Smith 5:20
And so let’s start by talking about what gets in the way of creativity, and what gets in the way of doing creative work. Right? Whether that is as part of your work part of your day job, or whether that is, you know, whether that’s part of a hobby or in your downtime. So in a word, it is fear. Fear gets in the way. So Steven Pressfield, who has taught us so much about creativity, and what gets in the way of it has taught us this. He said, “don’t prepare, begin, our enemy is not lack of preparation, the enemy is resistance, our chattering brain produces excuses. Start before you are ready.” And so this is what he says about fear. And I absolutely love this perspective. He says, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good, like self doubt. Fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember, one rule of thumb, the more scared we are of a work, or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” And have you had that experience in your life, where you know, the thought of doing something, first of all, got you so excited. And then you got the pit in your stomach of Oh, my goodness, there’s no way I can do this. I’m scared to death. And recognizing that that pit in your stomach, that fear helped you to know how much you cared about, the endeavor helped you to know how important it was to you. And so fear can be a very good sign, because it can help us to know how strongly we care about something, how invested we are in it. And so fear isn’t necessarily something that tells us we need to run the other way. But it can, it can help us to understand, wow, this really matters to me. And another quote from Steven Pressfield, which I really love this perspective, as well. So Steven Pressfield talks about the difference between the amateur and the professional, “the amateur believes he must first overcome his fear, then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior, or a dread free artist.” And so I love this perspective as well. Because with it Pressfield teaches us that fear doesn’t need to be a barrier to doing our work. Fear doesn’t need to be a barrier to doing courageous things in our lives. And of course, this takes us back to the research of Brene Brown with her Dare to Lead research, that the most courageous leaders are often afraid and brave at the exact same time. And so we don’t need to first vanish our fear, in order to create in order to live the life that we want to live. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. We take steps forward, despite our fear.

Dr. Melissa Smith 8:48
So let’s get a little more specific, though about fear. Right. So what gets in the way of doing creative work well? In a word, fear. But let’s break that down a little bit more. So of course, we have fear of critics. And that’s a big one for many of us. So of course, Brene Brown talks a lot about fear of critics. And she talks about the cheap seats, what will other people think? And how many of us have been stopped? By wondering what other people will think? How many of us have lived our lives? Wondering what will other people think, Oh, it’s like such a hard way to live your life. So this is what she said. A lot of cheap seats in the arena, are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean spirited criticisms and put downs from a safe distance. The problem is when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives.

Dr. Melissa Smith 9:59
For me This is according to Brown, “if you’re not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” So I love this perspective from Brown. That it’s not that we don’t care what others think. Because I mean, of course we do. But we need to learn to be selective about who we receive feedback from. Because not all feedback is created equal, right. And so if there, there are plenty of there plenty of critics out there who haven’t done the work, who haven’t put in the time, that they’re sitting in the cheap seats. And they have not earned the right to give you feedback. And so you should not spend time or energy, listening to them. But there are individuals, and Seth Godin calls these individuals, the generous critics, who have good intention for you who have put in the time who are doing what you’re doing, doing things that are similar to what you’re doing, who have good intention for you who want to encourage you who have good feedback that you need to let in. And you should let in this feedback.

Dr. Melissa Smith 11:14
So now let’s talk about another kind of fear. So the fear of disappointing others. So this can be a big one, especially for women, we do not want to disappoint others, we don’t want to let others down. So you know, often saying yes to something you want means saying no to something others want for you. And that is just reality. Because you can’t please everyone doing something that is good for you or growth promoting for you may not be what someone else wants. And this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Jeff Walker, which is, “every yes, must be defended by a thousand no’s.” And the reality is, you cannot do it all. I know, for me personally, this is one of my biggest challenges. I want to say yes to everything. And one of my mistaken beliefs is to think I can do it. And and it’s not coming from a place of arrogance. It’s coming from a place of I just don’t want to disappoint others. But I know realistically that I can’t do it all but I don’t want to let anyone down. And so the net result is that I overcome it. I say yes, when I should be saying no. And of course, obviously, it is a fool’s errand. But because there are times when I can’t tolerate disappointing others, my creative endeavors are always, always what get let down. So I don’t make time for what is important to me. And the result is that I end up feeling frustrated, resentful, and angry. But here is the theme. I’ve done it to myself. No one else did it to me. I’m the one that over committed. I’m the one that said yes. When I should have said no, I’m the one that couldn’t tolerate the distress of disappointing someone. And so instead of saying no. I said yes. And as a result, ended up saying no to my own creative endeavors. And at the end of the day, then, you know, I’m saying, I’m saying no, to, to my own sense of purpose and my own sense of meaning, and that one really hurts. That one’s not good. And so are there ways that you might be doing that in your own life? Where we, where we say yes, but we should be saying no, because of this fear of disappointing others, and especially for women. This one happens a lot. But it can happen for anyone who has a fear of disappointing others, or who has an unrealistic expectation about what they should be able to do. All right. That’s a big one.

Dr. Melissa Smith 14:21
So then, let’s talk about another fear. And that is the fear of failure. And you know, this is a big one, especially when it comes to creative endeavors. Because by their nature, they are uncertain, right? Like there’s just like there’s no formula for success when it comes to creative endeavors. Think about art, think about writing. Think about entrepreneurship. There is no perfect formula that says if I do this, and I do this and I do this, then I will be guaranteed Success. That is just not the way it works. And in fact, when we think about creative endeavors, failure is likely even expected. And so you’ve got to be able to tolerate, you’ve got to be able to tolerate failure, you’ve got to be able to tolerate distress, you’ve got to be able to tolerate uncertainty. You have to, you just have to. And I remember having a conversation with a good friend, not too long ago, and I was talking about this endeavor that I was working on, it was a creative endeavor. And I said, never in my life, have I been in a situation where, you know, I could put in all of this time and effort and energy and like, I’ve worked my butt off, I’ve worked so hard on this. And I have absolutely no clue. If it will be successful. It could, it could be a raging success, or it could be an utter failure. And I said, You know, I have worked just as hard, if not harder on this, than I have on other endeavors in my life. But with those endeavors, like I knew exactly what I needed to do, and if I did those things, I knew I would be successful, right? If I think about education, if I think about certain jobs, like there was absolutely no question there was certainty, there was a process. And, you know, I was just I was expressing this vulnerability and this uncertainty. And as I thought about that, I, you know, what I realized is that it was because this was such a creative endeavor. And the nature of creativity is that it is uncertain, there are no guarantees. And you know, the the critic, right, or the, the fixed mindset, or the scarcity mindset, could see this situation, as Oh, you’ve messed up you failure, you don’t know what you’re doing. You know, because if you would have been smarter, you would have been this, you would have been that, then you could have guaranteed success. But to be able to, to see that no, this is what creativity looks like. When you are engaged in creativity, there are no guarantees, and to be able to understand that, and see that it is the nature of the game. And that that is that. That’s the nature of the game. It’s the nature of the beast. That’s how it is and it’s not an indictment on you, and that there are things that you can do to increase your odds of success. But at the end of the game, at the end of the day, creativity requires a tolerance of uncertainty. And, you know, one of my favorite quotes around this comes from Eckhart Tolle who is, you know, such a gift to us. He says, When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. infinite possibilities open up in your life, because you recognize that it’s about the process, it is not about the outcome. And you have to disentangle yourself from the outcome. And that can be a hard, bitter pill to swallow. For many of us who have been trained to focus on outcome to focus on grades to focus on perfection. But it’s a gift. It’s a real gift.

Dr. Melissa Smith 18:57
Okay, so we’ve talked about the fears, right, we’ve talked about fear of critics, you’ve talked about fear of disappointing others. We’ve talked about fear of failure. So things that get in the way of our creative work. Now, let’s talk about excuses, which is just a nice veneer over fear. So let’s be honest about that. But we get so darn sophisticated with our excuses. So let’s justt state that for the record. And of course, I have another great quote from Steven Pressfield on this one. Now, his book that many of these quotes come from, is the War of Art. And if you want a kick in the butt, around creative work, you got to read that book because it is amazing. It’s a book that I try to read about twice a year because I just feel like I need it for some mental floss. It just kind of keeps me in a good headspace when it comes to creative work. So this is what he said about excuses. Our enemy is not lack of preparation. It’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace, or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is our chattering brain, which if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self justifications. And a million reasons why we can’t shouldn’t, won’t do what we know we need to do. I absolutely love that message. And this is what I mean, when I say, when we become a liar to ourselves, when we feel compelled to do creative work, whether it is to write whether it is to sing, whether it is to make music, whether it is to serve in any capacity. When we start making excuses, when we start avoiding that work, we become a liar to ourselves, we snuff out that light within us that quiet, that quiet little voice, that small little light, that is earthiness on, right? But it’s going to do it too quietly. It’s going to be in nudges. Right?

Dr. Melissa Smith 21:26
And that’s what Brene Brown talks about when she says that, “unused creativity isn’t benign. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.” That creativity, right? It will, it nudges at us. It is, it’s a small, little voice. It’s a small, little light. And it requires us to listen, it requires us to be curious, to pay attention, to quiet ourselves, and act on what we hear what we feel what we notice within us. And we become a liar to ourselves when we start making excuses. And when we avoid what we understand, and what we notice within ourselves. And so some of our favorite excuses, I’m too busy. And what I would say to this, and believe me, I will be the first to say I have used that excuse, I probably use that excuse this week. And I will be the first one to also say it’s just Bs, because here’s the thing, you’re too busy. And so as everyone else, right, you have as many hours in the day as everyone else. And so if you really feel that you are too busy, here’s a one way to get right to the heart of that. keep a log of how many Oh, sorry, keep a log of how you spend every minute of every day for a week. And this will help you get very honest about how you spend your time. And but I’ll just tell you right now, you will not like it, it will be a wake up call. Because if you’re honest with yourself, you probably won’t even do this assignment. Because it will be too painful. Because most of us waste a lot of time, whether it is Netflix, whether it’s a scroll hole on the phone. And even if it’s not those things, right, maybe you’re living your life out of your inbox. Maybe you’re just very inefficient with your time, maybe you’re a workaholic, maybe you need to set better boundaries, at work. And the point is this, you have time for one hour or even 30 minutes to engage in some creative act.

Dr. Melissa Smith 24:05
So it will require you to make choices, it may require you to make difficult choices. Some of those choices may not be difficult at all, once you actually, you know, square your shoulders and actually make them but stop with the excuses already. It is a gift to yourself to stop with the excuses already. And I think we have such a powerful example with Winston Churchill. So you know, I think we would all agree that during World War Two, when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain, he was a pretty busy guy. Very, very busy. And yet he found a way to paint. They’re out his time as prime minister. And you know, I would say if he had time for creativity while fighting Hitler, you could probably find that Some time for some creativity in your life. And so he actually had some of his painting he published and he had a small book painting as a pastime. So he wrote, painting came to my rescue in a most trying time. And so for him, painting really was, was a rescue for him and something that helped him to cope with such difficulty. And it helped him It gave him respite from everything that he was dealing with. So the hobby became, for the Great British statesman, a source of delight and a respite from the stress of his career, he would eventually create over 550 paintings, crediting the practice with helping him to hone his visual acuity, powers of observation and memory, the past time would flourish and perhaps even aid him as he furthered his his career as a world renowned writer order and political leader. So his approach was very simple. Go outside and paint what you see. So that’s what his that’s what his great grandson said, he did it for fun, he didn’t take his paintings very seriously. So for him, he it was something that was relaxing, that it’s something that was very healing for him, and something that really helped him in every area of his life.

Dr. Melissa Smith 26:44
And so such a powerful example there. And, you know, my, my thing is, especially when I say like, I don’t have time, I’m like, Okay, if Churchill had time to paint, I have time to write, because that’s one of that’s one of the things that I need to make more time, for in my life is writing consistently, I love to write, but I don’t always make time for it. So let’s look at some of the other excuses. So the one we just talked about, of course, is I’m too busy. Another one, others need me too much. So of course, this is another version of I can’t disappoint others. And one of the things that we learn from Seth Godin, so Seth Godin has a new book out, oh, my goodness, it’s so great. It just came out, I think it just came out in the past month or two, I’m just finishing it, it’s so good. It’s called the practice shipping, creative work. And he said, this is how, you know if it’s an excuse, or a roadblock, he said, If others find a way around your excuse, then it’s an excuse, not a roadblock. So if it’s a genuine Roadblock, it means other people have not found a way to get around this issue, either. But if what you’re saying is like, I can’t find a way around this issue, but there are other people in life who have found a way to do what you want to do. And you know, your excuse is not stopping them, then, you know, it’s an excuse. So I think that’s actually a really, really good point. And so, right, like, other people are finding a way to do creative work. And so if they can do it, you probably can too. And sometimes, maybe you just aren’t giving yourself enough credit. You’re not prioritizing things. You’re not saying no, instead of Yes. And so you know, it’s acknowledging that you might have to make some difficult choices.

Dr. Melissa Smith 28:05
But you can do that, as an adult, you can totally do that. And so again, from Seth Godin, he said, it’s hard to get blocked when you are moving, even if you’re not moving in the direction you had in mind that morning. And the point from golden in this book is getting into habits and taking action, taking action, taking action taking action, and I just love that and as a psychologist, certainly in the work I do, as a leadership coach, and as a psychologist, I’m always talking about taking action. Because certainly, especially when it comes to psychology and therapy, it’s so easy for people to sit around in therapy and talk about what they need to do, but to actually not take action. And you know, people can spend years doing not in therapy and in the therapy is a very limited effectiveness. We have got to take action. If you’re moving. If you’re doing something if you’re taking action, you will start to make progress.

Dr. Melissa Smith 29:55
And then another excuse that often shows up so we’ve already We’ve talked about I’m too busy. We’ve also talked about others need me too much, which is a version of I can’t disappoint others is and this is a big one, I’m not talented enough. So I don’t, I don’t have the talent needed. And so what I would say to this is, so what, who cares? If you want to create, then create, you know, you don’t have to be the best at it. And I think this is where perfectionism and a too big of a focus on the outcome can just undermine your efforts. If you want to create then create, you’ve got to let go of a focus on outcome. So here is the other thing, talent is overrated. When it comes to creative acts, if it makes you happy, do it. So notice I’m talking about creative acts, if it makes you happy, do it. Skill is prioritized over talent every day of the week. And so don’t worry so much about talent, let’s work on cultivating skills. And so this is where we come back to Seth Golden’s focus on practice and the process like what is your practice, what is your daily consistent practice, because if you’re engaged in a daily consistent practice, you will develop the skills over time, and then you really don’t need to worry so much about talent. And that is a really important principle for creative work.

Dr. Melissa Smith 31:29
Okay, so as humans, we are creative beings. So let’s talk about some solutions, let’s talk about how we can really make time for creativity. So as humans, we are creative beings, it is how we are made. And how you engage your creativity, however, is very personal. And so I would encourage you to take some time and identify how you engage your creativity or how you would like to. And so, right, like, maybe that’s through your work, maybe that is through hobbies, maybe that is through leisure activities. So just take some time, and identify how you engage creatively, or how you would like to so maybe it’s interior design, maybe it’s writing, maybe it’s reloading, so my husband loves reloading. And that for him is a creative activity. Now it requires a lot of precision, right. But that is also something that allows him to be creative, and it is an expression for him of something that he really enjoys. So there’s also coloring graphic design, art, decorating, crafting, content creation, right. That’s something I really, really enjoy. Like, I mean, I like a PowerPoint presentation. I like creating PowerPoint presentations, I think it’s kind of fun. And like how can you make those engaging, so people aren’t, you know, falling asleep. I think like that’s a challenge. And I think that’s pretty cool. Drawing homemaking skills, playing musical instruments, singing, baking, writing, music, cooking, problem solving all types of problem solving. Right, that is a creative endeavor. And so with this solution, I really want you to think outside of the box. It’s not just, you know, art, or dry. Right? So we engage creatively in so many areas in our life. And so I want you to think about how you engage creatively or how you would like to.

Dr. Melissa Smith 33:52
And then, the next thing is to recognize that there are so many ways to engage creatively to each day, some at work at home through hobbies. And so just identify one area of creativity where you would like to be more intentional. So we want you to be intentional, because when it comes to intentionality, consistency really matters. So I want to encourage you to develop a consistent practice in just this one area. So what are you willing to do consistently in this one area to strengthen this particular area of creativity. So for example, I will write for at least 30 to 60 minutes, five times a week, for the next 45 days to establish a consistent practice of writing. So that would be an example of an intentional, consistent practice in one area, and that you hold yourself accountable to that. So maybe you With art, like you’re going to do some drawing three to four times a week. And the key with creative work is consistency. So you don’t you know, the thing about creativity, one of the biggest mistakes is people think that they need to wait until creativity strikes them, or the Muse lands on them. And that is actually a big false hood. And so consistency is actually the principle that we want to operate under. And so if you would like to cultivate more creativity, you need to develop a consistent practice, you need to be intentional about it.

Dr. Melissa Smith 35:45
And so then the next question is, what is your intention? So what does your creativity serve? So is it just for you? Or is it for others? So you know, either is okay, but let’s be clear about your intention. So maybe you paint and that’s just for you. And that is great. Like, there is nothing wrong with that. But maybe you say you paint just for you. But secretly, you want to paint for others, that your fear keeps you playing small. Either way, you need to be honest with yourself. Okay? So that’s where I just want you to be clear about your intention. There are some acts of creativity that may just be for you. And again, like that’s, that’s beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that. But do you have a creative act that is in service to others that that is, right, like you actually do want that to be? For someone else, or in service to one another? Again, there’s not a right or wrong, but let’s be clear about your intention. And then, of course, you need to be honest with yourself, you’ve got to stop lying to yourself. And you’ve got to banish excuses. So yes, you’re busy, but so is everyone else, so you need to stop accepting your excuses. So consider yourself a junior high teacher, and you’re going to stop accepting excuses. So you must be smarter than your excuses. And so here is the thing. When you get tired of hearing your own excuses, you will begin changing your behavior. I promise you that. So this is where there is real power in self awareness and self reflection via journaling, because it can be a game changer. So one of the things that I’ve noticed for myself is so first of all, I journal just about every single day. And when I write and journal right, so same thing journal, for self awareness and self reflection, and one of the things that I start to notice is, I start to notice my patterns, right, I started noticing my patterns more clearly. And over time, I start to get tired of my excuses. I’m like, oh, boy, I’ve heard that one before. That one’s getting old, I’m getting tired of that excuse, I’m not buying that excuse anymore. And over time, you will become smarter than your excuses. And though you may still be afraid of failing, you will be tired of being stuck in inaction. And that will move you off of go that will help to propel action. And so you want to be honest with yourself and you want to start spotting your patterns, and really move yourself to action. And then we also want you to know your tells or your red flags.

Dr. Melissa Smith 38:48
So of course, if you’ve ever watched the World Series of Poker, which, you know, the boys in my home tend to like that. You know why the players are trying to disguise themselves by wearing hats and sunglasses, of course, they are trying to cover their tells, because of course the other players are looking for clues about whether the players are holding good or bad hands. So each of us have tells that reveal our inner states and just like poker players, you need to know your tells, so that you can call yourself out. So your tells or your red flags are those behaviors that signal you are living in fear, anxiety, or stress. So these are behaviors that move you out of your values and into excuses. defensiveness and avoidance. So whenever your tells are on the scene, watch out. And because what happens is they move you into a scarcity mindset. And the first thing to fly out the window is creativity because creativity operates on an ability mindset, right?

Dr. Melissa Smith 40:02
So an abundance mindset is this belief that there is enough. There’s enough time, there’s enough creativity, there’s enough energy. And so whenever you’re operating out of fear, anxiety or stress, your creativity is going to fly out the window. And of course, that’s the last thing we want. Okay? And then, of course, we need to schedule creative time, right? I mean, you just got to schedule time. And that might sound weird, right? Like, Oh, no, like, I need to be creative. When I feel creative. No, you need to be consistent. You just need to schedule time. And so consistency is the principle that we’re operating here.

Dr. Melissa Smith 40:49
So Bill Gates, He is known for his think week. So every year, he scheduled a week away, where he goes away to think and he reads up on, you know, all of these readings, and he really thinks deeply about a lot of things. And he credits these weeks to really helping him to stay sharp. One of the things that I have begun doing is taking a few days away at the beginning of every year, to help me to do some planning for my upcoming year. And it really is so helpful. For me, it really like I just consider a really big gift, not only to myself, but also to my business, because I typically don’t have that kind of time in my daily life, to actually, you know, set the time aside to think about my organization at a high level. And so it’s really very helpful. And it is creative time. And it allows me to have some really important perspective. And you also want to have time away from being plugged in. So even on a daily basis, having some rules for yourself about your phone, and email and how you do your work. So batching your work, making sure that your notifications are turned off, and not being a slave, to your email into your notifications into slack and all of those tools that if we’re not careful, really become weapons that distract us and keep us away from our most important work. And of course, I have a podcast on Deep Work. And you know how you can really do your best work. So make sure that you’re not being run by these tools. And you know, kind of the principle here is learning to be your own good enough parent and putting in some guardrails and some boundaries, and some limits to really help you to have the time you need to do your best work. Do your creative work first. So when do you do your best work, and do it then. So I do my best focus deep work in the morning. And so that’s when I that’s when I do that work? And do you have control over your schedule, so you can do that.

Dr. Melissa Smith 43:16
Email should never get your best energy just never should, you should set some limits around that. And then, you know, we want to cultivate boredom, and unplug time. And so make sure you have downtime at home, both for yourself. And for those you love. Make sure that there’s plenty of time when you and family members are unplugged from screens. And this is something that our home we impose on plug time. we impose quiet time, and our kids, our youngest kids are teenagers. And when they were young, we had quiet time, but we still have quiet time. And you know, they still complain about it. But they know that it happens and it’s you know, I think it’s really important. It’s it’s for their well being.

Dr. Melissa Smith 44:04
So JK Rowling. I don’t know if you know this, but when she so she started writing Harry Potter when she was on a delay train. So the train was delayed like two or three hours. And so she was just kind of sitting there bored. And that’s when she began writing Harry Potter. And aren’t we glad that that train was delayed? So are you ever bored? When we have phones and we’re constantly plugged in? It’s rare that we’re ever bored. But I really hope that you’re bored. I hope that you’re not always plugged in. Because boredom is right. Boredom is a launchpad for creativity. On the other side of boredom is actually creativity. I regularly make sure my kids aren’t bored. So what that has looked like recently in recent weeks For one of my kiddos has been some art, Legos, and a budding coin collection. Right. So it started out looking for some money that turned into a coin collection. And then for another child that looked like playing the piano, and writing music, and she is currently working on a song, and I hope she shares it with us, she, she tends to kind of hide her music from us a little bit, but she’s working on writing some music currently. And so remember, on the other side of boredom is creativity. And so make sure you have some whitespace shower ideas. So I have a reputation for coming up with all sorts of ideas in the shower. And it is not uncommon for me at all, to hop out of the shower and to very quickly record a voice memo directly out of the shower. So my team members tease me about this all the time, because I will send them voice memos, and they can hear the shower dripping water in the background. But I’ve got to get those ideas recorded as soon as I hop out of the shower. But what I know is it’s one of the times that ideas can percolate for me, because it’s some white space, it’s some time where I’m not plugged in.

Dr. Melissa Smith 46:25
And another time is walks with my pup, when I’m out in the neighborhood watching the light play on the mountains, and I have ideas come to me. And these are creative moments when you need to allow space and time for creativity when you’re not constantly plugged in. And of course, there’s lots of research on the value of walking for integrating ideas and sparking creative thinking. So it’s great for creativity, and it’s great for your help. So on the surface, all is quiet think about Walden Pond. But under the surface, there are many neural connections happening. And so make sure you’re intentional about protecting, preserving, and creating these white spaces. And then the last thing is to remind yourself of the benefits of creativity.

Dr. Melissa Smith 47:13
So taking time for creativity can sometimes feel selfish, but it is not. Creativity is an act of generosity. But you’re going to have to remind yourself of that fact. So you will need to challenge the guilt you may feel you will need to talk back to the guilt or the self criticism. We don’t care if it’s perfect. That’s not the point. Creativity doesn’t care about outcome. It doesn’t care about perfectionism. Creativity only cares about creating, it’s all about the process. So you need to remind yourself that taking time is good for your brain. It’s good for your soul, and it’s good for your relationships, you will need to remind yourself of the many benefits of creativity, that it will make you smarter because it will that it will make it will help you make broad connections across domains. For better problem solving it will it will definitely make you a better problem solver. and creativity makes you more interesting to be around. And it helps you seek understanding from perspectives very different from your own. And of course, we know novel approaches happen as a result of creativity. And the most remarkable leaders throughout history are also the most creative. And so with that, I hope that you will make the time for creativity that you will be intentional about it that you will be consistent that you will not wait for creativity to land on your shoulder like a bird, but that you will be intentional and consistent and taking time to be creative because here is the thing we need your gifts. We need what only you can offer us.

Dr. Melissa Smith 49:03
And so with that make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-85 one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-85 I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai