April 25, 2022 by Britt Fulmer
The first two parts of our Wired to Create series touched on the messy, internal worlds of people who dive head first into their creativity. In the third, and final, part of our series we’re going to look at the ways coaches can cultivate outside the box thinking in their clients.
Our brains are programmed to seek out consistency and routine. In doing this, our brains can help us more accurately predict and plan for upcoming challenges. The down side of this programming is that it keeps our brains operating without much creativity. It’s new experiences and new opportunities that push our thinking outside of our comfort zone.
The number one personality trait to predict creative achievement, beyond any other, is openness to experience. People who score high on openness to experience embody characteristics of imagination, curiosity, perceptiveness, thoughtfulness, and creativity. People who score high on openness are not only open to new experiences, but they actively seek them out. It’s their desire to learn and discover new things, not just the act of doing so, that has the largest impact on their creative achievement. This constant challenge to their normal way of thinking allows their creative juices to flow continuously.
Just as experts in their field often have trouble managing change, so do people who feel they are experts in themselves. This is why a newcomer, or an outsider’s mind-set,’ help to shake things up. It’s a coach’s job to be ‘the outsider’ that disrupts the familiar and routine to shine light on areas of a client’s life they hadn’t thought to explore.
What sometimes makes coaching a challenging endeavor is that clients will sometimes have to unlearn bad habits, like conforming or insecure behaviors. This process is known as positive disintegration, where clients will go through the painful process of dismantling aspects of their personality that are no longer serving them to more fully embrace their authentic self.
This dismantling takes quite a bit of time and requires a heightened sense of self-awareness. This particular kind of self awareness is meant to showcase your ‘false self’ or the voices and thoughts that take up space in your mind even though they don’t belong to you. With these voices gone, all that’s left are the thoughts and voices that make up the individual - the most authentic version of their inner world.
Coaches can provide much-needed support and sound boarding while clients are going through this dismantling process. By asking powerful questions and exercising level two listening, coaches have the innate ability to help clients dig into their most authentic selves by eliminating the noise.
While it’s true that traumas can force us to reevaluate what we want and how we want to approach life moving forward, this is also possible without the experience of a traumatic event. The rebuilding process that takes place after a traumatic event is known as post-traumatic growth. It’s not uncommon for the severity of these traumas to include a brush with death.
In 2013, Ane Marie Roepke, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was curious to know if this kind of growth was possible without the experience of trauma. To her delight, she found that highly positive events could have similar reevaluation effects as negative events. She termed this post-ecstatic growth. But it wasn’t just any positive events that resulted in growth, it was positive events steeped in meaning. In other words, growth was most evident after events that brought about the sense of enlightenment or awe and forced the person to see the world through a fresh lens. These types of enlightenment-induced changes are so profound because they aren’t connected to any external factors. The changes and realizations the person makes happen in their internal worlds.
This kind of post-ecstatic growth is a gold mine for coaches whose aim is to help their clients make awe-inspiring realizations about themselves. By curating learning that is grounded in meaning, coaches can work with a client to develop intrinsically-motivated action steps. The completion of these action steps can then serve as another opportunity for post-ecstatic growth.
People who most frequently tap into their creativity are often labeled troublemakers. This is true starting at a young age. Conformity is often rewarded in classroom environments and divergent thinking is swiftly punished. People who still manage to hold onto their creative and unique ways of thinking are then seen as an obstacle rather than an asset to the classroom.
Creative thinking requires the rejection of normalcy. Conventional ways of thinking stymie the creative mind, making it more closed-off instead of open to new experiences. People who are most in-tune with their creativity are always open to gathering new information to help them make decisions, but they see themselves as the ultimate decision makers, not other people and definitely not society.
This kind of divergent thinking can sometimes make people feel lonely. People who fully embrace their creativity may begin to question themselves, especially if they are exposed to a lot of criticism. The beauty of coaching is that we embrace our clients as they are, and invite them to always show up as their authentic selves. The role of a coach when dealing with divergent thinkers is to help them feel more confident in their thinking and creativity so they can embrace their unique minds and step into newer more unconventional thinking.
Creativity, like anything else, is a muscle that can be exercised and developed over time. It’s also messy, and the work required can sometimes feel overwhelming. Coaching is a great way to find creative balance and work through creative challenges, and these tips can be an excellent place to start.
PO Box 2021
Hood River, Oregon 97031
PO Box 2021
Hood River, Oregon 97031