Cultivating creativity – letting go of comparison.
A couple of years ago I posted a short video of me working with a client and her two unruly dogs. A two-minute video which summarised all the information I had gleaned about this woman, her lifestyle, the amount of training time she could do with her dogs, her level of knowledge and ability, her stress levels, her dog’ current learning etc. Two minutes. I had to be creative in my approach to the solutions I could offer her and for her to get the results she needed. The video I showed wasn’t like other training content which was out there and then the “I wouldn’t do it like that” and “Would you not be better…” comments started on social media. I had been creative, worked towards a solution but it was not what others did. If I took those comments to heart, do you think I would be creative next time? If I compared the work the four of us did in that hour to work which other trainers did or do (given that they didn’t have the information I have) do you think I may have acted less creatively?
You are walking through the park with your dog who is going through a particular training issue, pulling on the lead for example and you see a dog walking beautifully with their human on a loose lead. What is your thought process? “I wish we could do that” “I wish my dog walked like that” “Why can’t my dog behave like that?”. Perhaps even more judgemental towards your dog “Why don’t I have a good, well behaved dog?” I think these thought patterns are pretty insidious. Let go of that comparison to others and be creative. Know your path, ask the right questions to get there. We know that having negative thought patterns gets in the way of creativity. It blocks that part of our brain. Comparing your journey to that of others is counterproductive. Don’t do it. Take advice from those you have greater knowledge than you do and reflect on it. Learn. Study. From many different sources not just from one field.
I started looking at tonnes of interactions through the lens of behaviourism. When I started to, I would then notice the little things which people did with each other and their dogs and would put them into my repertoire. It could come from anywhere; film, literature, interactions with a person in a shop, documentaries. As soon as I started opening up my perception to it, I started seeing more. Weightlifting schedules helped my understand how often to train with my own dog and for how long. I also celebrate when my clients have understood the principles of what I have taught and been creative into how they implement it in their lives with their dogs. These are great moments. They don’t compare what they do with what I do, they see the commonality in it and adapt it to their lives. It’s glorious.
Lastly, again, I think shame is the reason why we do compare ourselves to others and one of the s we are not creative. To be creative is to be bold and brave and courageous and to take a chance. And with that, you leave yourself vulnerable to failure, to it not working, to the comments of those on the internet who use your journey to vent their frustrations about their own life. You can’t control what they think, feel and do but you can control what you think feel and do. Quoting Brene Brown again
“Stay awkward, brave and kind”.
Part 7 to follow.