Getting in the Groove, Part 2: The Surprising Composition of Creativity

getting in the groove part 2

When I was a kid, I would come home from school and play my piano for hours on end. There were evenings when with great irony, I took for granted the very time signatures at my disposal. In these moments, whether I knew it or not, I would enter the elusive state of creative flow. The rest of the world would fade away as I disappeared into the haunting melodies of Schumann and Chopin. While my mother slaved away, I annoyed my siblings with repetitious exercises that promised dexterity to the diligent student. Or not. As the case may be. 

Ah, those were the good old days! Entrepreneurs rarely have the luxury of endless hours for brainstorming and creativity, yet I still think it is possible for us to enter into the sublime state where creative juices can flow. The problem for entrepreneurs is that such opportunities come wrapped in a package that looks very much like it was run over by a truck. It looks so bad that we frequently mistake it for something completely other than a gift. You may have been fooled by some of these gifts yourself.

Here are ten unusual sources of creative flow that are usually disguised in a frumpy, dumpy package:

Restrictions-  Anyone can be creative with endless resources. It is under restrictions that the real genius comes out. Real innovation is born when we are forced to do more with less. 

Mistakes-  Yes, we blow it. We waste materials. But it is the ones who get out there and make the most mistakes who accomplish the most. We go back to the drawing board. Remember, in the wake of seemingly hopeless mistakes, entire new industries have been born.

Frustrations-  While too much anxiety is always dangerous, there is a productive kind of anxiety called Eustress. Eustress is positive stress that promotes growth, much like the struggle of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Problems and frustrations are often our greatest sources of new ideas. They just look like piles of crap. Which leads to our next ingredient:

Fertilizer-  What causes the most beautiful blooms in your garden? The application of generous amount of––well I’m too polite to say. Got a load of crap? So get a shovel and work it in. Plant Dahlias or something. In sheer audacity of hope, and before anything grows, sign up for the Biggest Blooms contest at your local State Fair. Sure, shxt happens to the best of entrepreneurs. This is shxt redeemed.

Distractions-  Diversions can be the catalyst for oblique strategies. How can you think outside the box if you cannot find at least one hole to peer out? Don’t be afraid to take a walk, or purposely find something different to do for a few minutes.

Necessities-  Those old wives were not as dumb as they look. Blatant need has been the primary point of discovery for many an invention for centuries.

Messes-  Until we are comfortable with making messes, we will never dare to try something new. Messes cause innovation to happen much faster than tweaking and testing for marginal improvements. (Where’s the kaboom? There was suppose to be an earth shattering kaboom?)

Insecurities-  Adults famously try to avoid situations where we do not know what to do, and where we have the potential to look stupid. The reality is, the very moment we feel most insecure is the moment when we are closer to a solution than ever before. Comfort is the enemy of creativity.

Obstacles-  Obstacles do not get in the way. They jog our thinking. Obstacles make us stretch to get over them. Stretching always improves our performance.

Monkey wrenches-  It is also human nature to take the easiest path. We get complacent when things are always the same. Monkey wrenches force us to take a new look at old things, and see them as we have never seen them before.

So the composition of creativity is not the romantic things we might expect. The next time you receive a generous package of Insecurity or Monkey Wrenches? Look up and do your best to be grateful. There may be a priceless gift inside. God uses these unwelcome packages to help us to discover our capacities. They help us to learn that we can survive and come out the other side a more resilient, more creative person. We are more capable than we think we are, we learn that we can make it work, and that we do not have to do it alone–that other people want to help.

Thus the symphony of creativity begins with dark, low notes. It develops with peaks and valleys, high notes and low notes, and finally recapitulates in joyous tubular bells. 

That builds our confidence. 

And that, my friend, will get you in the groove.


Why do we at etc!graphics inc, a graphic design company, care about your business strategies?  Because no matter how beautiful your graphics, they will never make more sense than the clarity of your own vision. The clearer your vision, the more lucid your marketing will be, and the better connection you will make with your target customer. We want to help you find the gold in your business. Join us all this month as we share ways to help your small business sustain and grow in a crowded marketplace. Etc!Graphics is devoted to helping you, the small business owner, think like a marketer.