- On February 20, 2020
“The most personal is the most creative.”
–Boon Joon Ho, acceptance speech for Best Director, 2020 Academy Awards, referencing advice he was given by Martin Scorsese
Wow! This insight blows my mind.
My first reaction was that focusing on ‘what’s most personal’ is so limiting—I only have a finite set of experiences. I think like this. I have these preferences. I like these things; I don’t like those. I value these things. I know what I know.
There’s a whole big world out there, and I believed creativity is out there somewhere. I must do the hard work of seeking, if I am to find it. Cue: years of starving struggling actor getting the lucky break in an off-off-off Broadway show that becomes a cult hit, moves to mainstream, and wins a Tony.
But…what if creativity, i.e., the gift of my talents to impact the world, actually starts with me? With all my perceived limitations? Do I have enough in me to bring creativity?
Through many years, over several career moves, I have been waiting for the “lightning bolt” that would infuse me with the divine guidance of where my talents, my creativity, can make the most impact. My creativity was ‘out there’ somewhere…
I put myself in multiple positions to have it strike…Cue: image of standing mid-way through the par 5 on the golf course waving a metal club over my head in a massive thunderstorm. It never did. I was always left seeking, wanting something elusively ‘out there.’
A few years back, mentally and spiritually (and financially) exhausted from trying so many possibilities, I turned to the one thing I hadn’t worked much on changing—me.
With the help of my own coach, I looked at my development and why I was feeling so unsettled—and unsuccessful–in finding an answer.
The first thing I did was stop searching ‘out there.’
I found ways, like meditation and appreciations, to be with the ‘now’ and find beauty and grace there. I did less seeking out, and more seeking within. I came to a richer understanding of what I value, my strengths, where and how I operate best, and the triggers where I need to practice the pause between stimulus and response to affect a different outcome.
I found the courage to change my story. My old story of ‘the wise sage’ was useful at one point in my life, and I realized it no longer reflected the creativity I wanted to bring to the world.
My new story is based on learning, seeking to understand, and facing the vulnerability of not knowing yet having faith that I can figure it out in the best way. I have found that the more personal I allow myself to be, the more impact I have on others.
I have clients who come to work with me very real world concerns of wanting to learn more effective leadership skills, or to feel more resonant in their career choices or their organization, or who are tired of searching on their own for the ‘creative juice’ of their life.
There are ‘technical’ exercises we focus on like competencies, communication skills, resurrecting buried interests, networking and interviewing strategies. However, the most compelling and impactful always seems to be the exploring and discovery of who they really are and what they really want. This sets them up with an ongoing framework for decision-making on how they bring their most authentic (i.e., personal) selves to the world. Once that happens, their engagement, energy, and feeling of fulfillment creates an unstoppable momentum.
“The most personal is the most creative.”
You know how you can intuitively tell if the person smiling at you is giving you a fake smile to get something from you or if their facial expression is filled with kindness, joy, delight at being with you?
I think it’s the same with the creativity of your gift to the world. When you are deeply personal, there is a resonance in what you bring to the world that can be sensed by others and creates long-term emotional connection.
I saw the 2020 Best Picture movie, Parasite (for which Boon Joon Ho won the Best Director award) several weeks ago. I still can’t get it out of my head. That’s the impact of bringing the ‘personal’ front and center.
I say, “the most personal is the most impactful.”
How do you view the relationship between personal and creativity?