Jamie Catto works with individuals and companies to inspire creativity, success and personal development. His new book, Insanely Gifted: Turn Your Demons Into Creative Rocket Fuel is out now – scroll to the end for the chance to enter our giveaway and win a copy of his book. Here, he shares his tips to unlocking your creativity
From the creative dynamo, workshop leader and founder member of the band Faithless comes a manifesto for embracing our dark side and a blueprint for boosting our creativit Here are five easy ways to unlock yours:
1. Get comfortable with the answer ‘no’. Both giving it and receiving it, and with not taking any of this personally. If you can redefine the word ‘roadblock’ as ‘an arrow pointing in an unexpected direction you didn’t realise you needed to go in’ then you tend to align yourself with ‘how things really are’ rather than pushing the river and futilely imposing our own agenda on an uncontrollable world.
A huge aspect of this practice is to not take things so personally. Someone saying 'no' doesn’t reflect on you. There may be a million reasons why they’re not the right person or it’s not the right time for them. But if you are willing to get past the immature sense of rejection when someone’s not interested then there is a whole banquet of YES available to you. Just keep asking, keep reaching out, and the aperture for what can come back is never limited.
Try this: next time you are saying ‘no’ to someone, don’t give a reason. Just say ‘no thanks’, and feel what comes up – the lack of permission, the protectiveness or urge to manipulate their feelings with an excuse.
2. Lose all attachment to outcome - only choose projects and activities which, even if they didn’t ‘make it big’ would still have been time well spent. If you think your time would have been wasted on a project if it doesn’t get well received at the end or make enough money, then you are choosing the wrong project. The success of the thing at the end is only an added bonus. Yes, we certainly prefer that it does brilliantly and we get awards and acclaim and lots of lovely feedback, but this is not a proviso to it having been a totally fulfilling and worthwhile use of our time.
The complexities that have to all fall into place for a project to be successful are incalculable. The quality, timing, the climate of what is getting airplay or media attention at the time, how the thousands of individuals exposed to it might be feeling on the day they heard it, the relationships between marketeers and distributors, broadcasters and retailers… having success with a project is like rolling a 50-sided dice. You have no idea, even with a decent marketing budget and an experienced team, if it is going to do well. If there was a formula, then we would have it by now!
The only failsafe method I can offer is the total absorption and devotion to the project because, when we are driven by enjoyment and self-fulfilment in our work, every day we show up is abundant and worthwhile even if it flops when we release it into the world.
Try this: Ask yourself: ‘if I had all my life expenses paid, what would I want to do after breakfast?’ This way, no matter what your bank balance says, you are always fulfilled, and that is easily as high a value, if not higher.
3. Take action! Even if you’re not entirely certain where it’s going. Head towards the closest thing to your excitement and passion and see where it leads without burdening your creativity with giving you money, success and satisfaction too soon. During my workshops, I introduce an idea called ‘God’s Deaf Waiters’. All around you, standing to attention, looking sharp in their tailored suits stand God’s Deaf Waiters. They are primed and excited to bring you all manner of amazing delights, conjure support you never dreamed of, whisper to you great ideas and triumphantly manifest unexpected good fortunes and synchronicities to further you on your mission.
The only thing is, they’re deaf. So they can’t take your orders or understand your desires from what you say you want. No, they can only surmise their orders and your wishes from your actions. When we take actions according to our passions, they see us getting busy and productive and they get interested, they conclude… oh Jamie’s doing that, he’ll need one of these… and they stylishly come up with timely gifts that we’d never have imagined were just what we needed, yet summoned by our intent, fuelled by our productivity and commitment, God’s Deaf Waiters are all around us, waiting to serve our highest excitements. Tip big.
Try this: Consistently take action on your passion, or the closest thing to it for a month. Be more honest and visible in your dealings with others and your creative choices. The more authentic you are, the more the creating will lead you to something fulfilling.
4 Be sincere. Never pretend you like someone more than you really do to get their money. Yes, I know this is totally contrary to most business practices, which teach the best ways to get something out of this person, and the misuse of techniques such as NLP offers a menu of manipulations to get what you want, but for me I would run a mile from such practices. My rule of thumb is that if I wouldn’t feel comfortable having this person in my treehouse, I don’t take their money. It is dishonest to take someone’s investment under false pretences of liking them. If they knew what you really thought of them, they wouldn’t give you the money, so I urge you to be sincere and never take any money from a source which causes you to bury how you really feel. It never comes to any good.
But even if it’s not a money situation, your honesty in all parts of the project is paramount. Tip-toeing around protecting everyone’s feelings never leads to great art. That doesn’t mean be reckless with others’ hearts, but be clear and unvarnished in your tastes and decisions. This way, everyone around you can serve your vision with clarity.
Try this: Consider any ways you are hiding your true opinions or feelings in a project or a personal relationship, then make a list of why. Once you’ve made the list, scan it for assumptions, automatic behaviours and hiding.
5. Practise good self-care. If you’re not looking after yourself and really giving yourself the life circumstances where you thrive, you will be in too vulnerable and reactive a place to even hear what inspires you. When you are self-caring and giving yourself the environment and treatment and circumstances where you thrive, then creativity springs forth.
If you don’t self-care and prioritise giving yourself the environment that feels safe and peaceful, you will be subject to constant reactivity and thin-skinnedness. Being a puppet on a string yanked left and right by whatever worry or regret your mind chooses to offer up makes you miss huge chunks of your life that you’ll never have back. There’s a reason so many religious and spiritual paths pray and meditate and focus on freeing themselves from the seductive storylines of the self-cherishing mind. So become aware of how much more grounded you are when you are diligently take care of your own basic needs.
Try this: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a self-care document to fill in. We are each of us a wise therapist in charge of a mental patient. We need to step up and take the job of being our own ‘care-worker’ seriously.
Insanely Gifted by Jamie Catto (Canongate, £12.99) is out now.