It was around 3 A.M. and I woke up to my wife voice.
“I think my water broke.”
I jolted up and started gathering our things to get ready to go to the hospital.
Later that night after 22 hours of labor, we welcomed our baby daughter, Nora, into the world. I got all the medical staff to sing happy birthday to her and this was the moment we began our journey into parenthood.
It changed my life for the better and I’m about to tell you why.
I’ve felt stuck so many times than I can count. If your brain was ever constipated like mine, you know the frustration from staying up at night trying to figure out the solution to something you are working on.
I’ve been trying for years to figure my life out. I would try a little bit of everything and gave up when it got hard. When you have bills to pay, good benefits, and due for a pay raise, you tend to put your passions in the back seat.
I was a filmmaker, writer, musician wannabe real estate investor, humanitarian, and a pharmacist. In other words, I had no idea what I was doing with my life so I’ve tried everything I could think of.
When my daughter, Nora, came into the picture, it turned my world upside down. I knew she had a lot to learn, but I was the one learning the most from her those days.
The more time I spent with her, the more I learned about how children’s behaviors are some of the key strategies to help you get over creative blocks.
Here are five reasons why.
1. Children Have a Natural Sense of Wonder
“Wowww!!!” Nora would exclaim while looking out the window at Christmas lights on a house while we were driving home.
Another decorated house came into view.
“Woowwww!!” She said again.
The whole street had house after house beautifully decorated with the red, green and white holiday lights.
She now saw multiple homes passing by one after the other so she couldn’t even finish her word and kept cutting herself off.
It made me laugh, but it also made me remember what it was like to be in awe of something beautiful I’ve never seen before.
I wasn’t as impressed by the lights because when you become an adult, you think you’ve seen everything already.
The problem with thinking you already know enough about things is you no longer are in a space to learn.
Then came the realization.
I should never let my sense of wonder die. If I find myself getting disengaged in my life, it probably means it’s time to expose myself to new environments. If I’m not impressed at how beautiful this world can be, then I must be missing out on what’s out there. I just need to go out and discover it.
This leads to the next important point.
2. Children Have a Natural Sense of Curiosity
When you’re a baby, everything around you looks interesting. You’re curiosity leads you to touch things, eat things, see things.
Curiosity is the key ingredient to growth.
Nora is in a phase always asking “what’s that?” wanting to learn what everything is around her.
When you engage and indulge your curiosity, you always learn as a result. Her curiosity inspired me to always explore multiple angles and keep learning when I’m in a creative rut.
I think Thomas Edison said it best. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If you think about it, the creation of some of the most greatest inventions always started from a place of curiosity. I would imagine Edison tinkered around for countless hours trying all sorts of things out with the light bulb before he succeeded.
Curiosity keeps us going and doesn’t worry about getting things perfect on the first try, which is the next important thing children can teach us about bringing out our best work.
3. Children Are Not Perfectionists
When Nora gets her hands on some crayons, she drew scribbles and was so proud to show it to me. It wasn’t necessarily the best drawing and she didn’t feel the need for it to be. She was just happy to have created something and you know what? It made me happy too.
This is when it hit me. No matter how bad your product turns out, just the fact you made something is the moment when you engaged in a creative act.
My problem was I struggled with perfectionism and worried too much about what other people thought of me. The worst part is perfectionism absolutely kills your creativity because it prevents you from ever finishing a product. I know this from all the projects I’ve started and never finished because I convinced myself it would never be good enough so I shouldn’t bother trying.
I realized in order to nurture your creativity, you just need to create something. Literally. Even if it turns out ugly, just do it anyway. It’s when you let an idea stay in your imagination you are not being creative.
I decided to just make things to express myself without thinking about if it will be good or not. Once I just created something, it gave me something to work with and evaluate what I could work on to improve it. This led to some of my best work.
Children are first always willing to create things even though it’s not perfect. The reason for this is because their main goal isn’t to get things perfect, but it’s to express themselves in order to connect.
4. Children Have a High Need For Connection
Nora is very attached to my wife and I as expected. She cries for us when she trips and falls. She gives us kisses to try and wake us up in the morning so we can play with her. She hugs us when she’s tired so we can put her to bed.
She wants to connect with us on a daily basis.
This was a great reminder of how our need to connect with people never goes away. My need to connect with others was always high, but because of times I’ve been hurt or betrayed, I didn’t let myself trust people as much anymore.
This lack of trust and connection in my life reflected in my work. I was always afraid to create my first film, book or blog post all because I was so self-conscious and afraid others won’t like it or even worse, judge me for it.
The focus became about pleasing others rather than connecting with them.
I learned when creating something that matters to me, the question must shift from “How can I make something worthy of other peoples standards” to “How can I express myself in a way that will help connect with others?”
I acknowledged my need for connection and this actually helped keep moving me forward.
Creativity doesn’t only exist in a select group of people who are artists. It lies in the act of sharing a piece of yourself through any act in order to connect with someone one way or the other. The more we connect with each other authentically, the more we get in tune with who we really are, which children can do naturally.
5. Children are Naturally True to Themselves
Children definitely have personalities of their own, but they start off as themselves. They don’t worry about people liking them. They don’t worry about being the popular kid at school. They just are who they are.
As I spent time with my daughter, I thought about how I was once ok and open with being myself too until I let things like shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem control my life.
My strong desire of wanting to feel accepted and loved prevented me from being true to myself. This was why I followed a formula other people told me was the way to live my life, but I ended up unhappy. I didn’t feel engaged with my life.
When you are not your authentic self, you’re creativity is imprisoned behind the walls you put up around yourself and it can’t come out.
This was the biggest lesson my daughter has gifted to me. I’ve now committed to be more engaged with what matters to me and express it through my own life.
Through whatever you create, whether it’s a painting you drew, a cake you baked for your children or an event you organized, let it come from a place within yourself rather than an expectation others have of you.
It’s a big problem with many adults (including myself) where the older we become, what we want to change about ourselves is based on how we can impress or please other people.
When children are asked what they’d change about themselves, it has nothing to do with their insecurities. It’s true, I worked on a great film with my friends at Jubilee Project to prove it. It did so well it even ended up on television on the Queen Latifah and Meredith Viera Show.
I’m well aware not everything we create makes it good even though it’s an authentic expression of ourselves, but I realized as we continue to commit to creating something, you always improve in the process.
Children Are The Real Heroes
I was eating lunch at a restaurant with my wife once and overheard a woman at the next table sigh and say “Children are superheroes until they are told they’re not.”
This never resonated with me so much until I had a child of my own. Despite all the difficult challenges life comes with, Nora now inspires me on a daily basis to continue engaging my creativity, being genuine and to never stop moving forward in order to keep my heart growing.
So if you’re feeling stuck, maybe it’s time to reconnect with your inner child’s natural values of wonder, curiosity, self-expression, connection, and authenticity.
So how about it? What are some of your creative blocks and what has worked for you to overcome them?