Tag Archives: empowerment

Feeling the Power

Originally posted at Innovation Bound.

How do you feel when you’re being creative?

Oh, it can be all over the map! Engaged, stumped, frustrated, blissed out, in a state of flow, driven, ferocious, unsparing, enchanted, oblivious to the world, unstoppable, like a vessel to the universe, a scribe to the muse, a slave to the drawing board.

Yep. All over the map.

But I bet, at least some of the time, being creative comes with a pronounced sense of “rightness” to it. Something just feels right. And if you pause and take the time to look inside, perhaps you feel, like I do, that you’re connecting with a part of yourself which feels solid, energized, authentic, and – no matter what your creative process might be yielding in that moment – in an important way, empowered.

What’s that about?

What is it about engaging in a process which by its very nature is a movement toward the unknown that can – though, albeit, not always – leave us feeling empowered?

I’ve been asking myself this question for a few months now.

Empowerment, I think, alludes to a movement from a position of less power, to one of greater power. Some would say it’s a restitution of the natural power we all have. And typically this greater power bears the hallmark of personal authenticity or relevancy: it’s rooted in you, in your very nature. It’s a return of something missing, or it’s the removal of an unnatural obstruction. To be empowered is, in my mind, a return to a natural state of personal power.

Creativity is a natural state as well. It, too, is rooted in our very nature. Often, accessing and strengthening our creativity is a process of restoring ourselves to a state of being creative, or of removing those obstacles which are blocking this natural capacity.

So creativity and empowerment have some things in common, at least in how they represent integral parts of who we are. But what’s the nature of the connection between them? How do they work together? Do they work together?

As I said, I’ve recently become curious about this. I’ve been asking around. One of my creativity colleagues offered that using affirmative judgment (a creative thinking skill) feeds the feeling of being empowered.

Another added that learning deliberate creativity practices like Creative Problem Solving gives you confidence-building tools for creativity, and this is empowering. I thought these were great answers.

A client offered: “To be creative but completely un-empowered would be useless. To be empowered and completely uncreative would be dogmatic.” I thought that was awesome.

Another said: “Being creative with a purpose equals empowerment.”

Lots of interesting responses, but I feel like there’s more in here to discover. What would you say? How do you think creativity and empowerment are related?

Photo courtesy of David Desilva – http://www.lightpaintsapicture.com/

Creativity and Empowerment

Both our sense of empowerment and our sense of our creativity arise from a connection with the self — and both have a forward-facing aspect as well, as we experience the many ways in which the world responds to us, our initiatives and our creative ideas. 

When we engage our creativity, we connect to something important inside of ourselves. As we cultivate that connection, we increase our sense of personal power.

And in parallel, our sense of empowerment can help us tough it out in our creative endeavors, especially when we need to go against the grain in the realization of our visions.

We have a very personal relationship with both creativity and empowerment — which is not to say that we do both of them well, all the time. But they certainly cut to the heart of who we are. There’s also a sense of initiative, or agency, embedded in both: in acting on them, we change our environment.

Perhaps the height of empowerment is what Abraham Maslow famously called “self-actualization,” the human drive to develop ourselves into our full selves, and live life from that perspective, as much as possible. Maslow saw a connection between creativity and empowerment. During a time when creativity was often studied in the lives of great artists and scientists, Maslow became interested in what he called “self-actualizing creativity,” which he considered to be “synonymous with…essential humanness.” According to this view, whether making a poem or a soup, a creative life becomes an empowered one.

references: Maslow, A. H. (1968) Towards a Psychology of Being.
photo credit: Lincolian (Brian)