What creativity is trying to tell you: Jonathan Tilley at TEDxStuttgart

What creativity is trying to tell you: Jonathan Tilley at TEDxStuttgart

so before we dive in let's bring up the lights and connect a bit raise your hand if you've if you consider yourself to be creative person raise your hand if you don't consider yourself to be creative at all and it's okay yeah it's cool right okay so raise your hand if you've done one of the following three things cooked a meal sat on your livingroom couch or gotten dressed trick question we're all creative we've all created a meal we've all created the interior design of our living room and we've all created an outfit now these are just a few the questions I asked hundreds of people about creativity and their relationship to it and I'd like to share the results with you this evening because creativity is this individual as it is universal I've had a long relationship with creativity at the age of nine I was cast as a mall in mendelssohn's operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors at a local community theater and I was on stage performing and I was hooked I knew that what was in here had to be shared out there and for the past 30 years I've been a student of creativity performing on stage as a dancer singer and actor in productions of Mamma Mia Cats 42nd Street in A Chorus Line and also working behind the scenes as a director choreographer author and playwright and also as a voice-over artist bringing words to life behind a microphone in a soundproof booth for TV commercials corporate narrations elearning modules and even apps on your iPhone and Android and through the years I've met other creative people and shared wonderful conversations about our individual yet Universal relationship with creativity but for me to share with you tonight what creativity is really trying to tell you my idea worth sharing we first have to have a common understanding of what creativity actually is Miriam Webster's dictionary defines creativity as the ability to make new things and think of new ideas oh those are that is so boring it doesn't even scratch the surface so through this research asking hundreds of people how they define creativity this is what they said creativity is a feeling creativity is a force creativity is a secret creativity is love creativity is God creativity is the source creativity is an energy that gets caught up in time and space and flows through us yet also carries us creativity is an entity like the wind you can't see it but you can feel it you just know it's there so the ability to make new things versus a force the ability to think of new ideas versus love so for the next couple of minutes let's take a deeper journey into creativity and figure out what it's really trying to tell you a few fun facts that emerged from the research there's a mutual agreement that the creative process has a beginning middle and end now depending upon the medium depends upon the duration of the creative process so cooking a meal beginning middle and end 10 to 60 minutes writing a book six months to three years would also emerge from the data is that there's a mutual agreement that creativity is necessary and has needs but what fascinates me is that no one said that they were taught the creative process nor told the creativity is necessary and has needs it was just something that had to be experienced on their own and was and was felt to be known here it is again creativity is as individual as it is universal so the creative process always begins with a thought but we're having thousands and millions of thoughts a day why aren't we creating all of the time well sorry Miss Manners but it's not just the thought that counts it depends upon the environment that the creative thinker is in is the creative thinker in a negative shaming and harmful environment or is the creative thinker in a positive healthy respectful environment creativity needs sacred space being in a sacred space can gently nudge that creative thought out into the air like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly some examples of sacred spaces are lofts and studios where painters and sculptors go to work on their art and piece a friend of mine who's a writer who works from home I was getting really frustrated so I said go to the library that's a sacred space where other people have an appreciation for the written word and love silence it's where she could open herself up and let the creative juices just pour out onto the page and our stressed-out face gently relaxed into a soft smile it's even more wonderful when that sacred space can be shared with other people that understand the creative process to gently nudge that thought out into the air true story I was working with my voiceover coach deb monroe on a piece of copy about Tuvalu a Polynesian island that's no higher than five meters above sea level and due to the sea levels rising this islands going to be wiped out completely a serious documentary and as he can tell I'm a bit quirky and creative and a bit dorky getting a bit deep and serious it's not something that I do that much and Deb knew that so she said get really close to the mic get right up in it it's gonna feel intimate but that's okay that's where this story lives and she gave me permission to get vulnerable in this sacred space to let that creative thought flow out and this is what we recorded but now Tuvalu is said to be disappearing scientists have told the people of Tuvalu that their home will be underwater in the next 10 to 15 years this is a story about the people of Tuvalu told by the they're hopes dreams thoughts and their view on the future of their nation what is a person without a country and how can a nation disappear completely so creativity needs sacred space to be vulnerable in its where thoughts become things a painter studio the library a quiet corner in your home so if creativity needs sacred space creativity is trying to tell you to cultivate that sacred space so that thought has a place to evolve in which brings me to the second phase of the creative process once you've honored that thought you got to play around with it sculpt it shaped it mold it make it more tangible bring it to life but in order to do so you got to fall down and get back up fall down and get back up fall down yet again and get back up creativity needs mistakes through story at the age of 24 I was cast in the musical Cats and back then that was the show that every dancer wanted to do and I was so grateful to be a part of it first day of rehearsal I sign in at the stage door get changed into my dancing clothes and start warming up in the studio and one by one other dancers start to come into the studio and warm up next to me I'm slowly but surely building our own sacred space within our bodies for a full day of dancing 10 o'clock rolls around the associate choreographer comes into the studio says a quick hello tells it to grab our batching to follow her well I thought the building was on fire but no she was taking us down to the stage the largest scale of a sacred space for a performer and she said although there's a lot of choreography to be learned it would behoove us if we were to get on stage and improvise as cats very reluctantly we got down on our hands and knees to roll around them on the floor as cats to give you an idea of the cat stage upstage Center there's a big tire that at the end of the show Grizabella the glamor cat that sings memory all alone in the moon gets on it and they blast her through the roof musical theater so the tire was back on stage and a buddy of mine was on his hands and knees circling around the ring of the tire like a cat very reluctantly any circling and circling and then out of the blue he loses his balance and falls right into the center of the tire well he obviously made a mistake first day of rehearsal the sacred space I thought he was gonna get fired but he used the time and space that was given to him to create a wonderful moment he poked his head from out behind the tire looked around shook it off and created this wonderful cat-like character that was curious but also clumsy so although he made a mistake this improvised moment was the catalyst for us dancers gave us permission to lean into that vulnerability make mistakes and play around as cats so creativity is trying to tell you to get messy make mistakes fall down get back up again embrace the f-word failure I haven't heard of anyone that could walk the first day that they were born so why do we put all these unrealistic expectations on ourselves to never fail I failed hundreds of times I've lost thousands of euros and dollars I've lost friends I've lost businesses did it hurt hell yes did I learn something mm-hmm so it's from those mistakes that our creations are so much more powerful than that original thought it's where your creation starts to take take on a life of its own it begins to breathe which takes me to the third and final stage of the creative process once you've honored that thought played around with it molded it shaped it made mistakes you're going to get this feeling you could know it's done so you stop adding to it let it be and you release it out into the world creativity needs to be shared true story in 2002 a friend of mine gave me a book called Sea of Tranquility by Paul Russell and he said this book needs to be turned into a play and I read it cover to cover and I was resonating with this book there was even a character named Jonathan just like me whose quirky and creative just like me and I go this book needs to be turned into a play and the thought was there to turn the book into a play but I didn't give it the sacred space it needed until 2005 three years later I was packing my suitcase to go on holiday for two weeks all alone I was in desperate need of some thinking space and breathing space some sacred space and lo and behold the book lands right next to my laptop in my suitcase you can guess what happened next two weeks sacred space all alone I got a first draft baby whoo-hoo fly back home let it sit on my laptop for another three years to stagnate 2008 rolls around I get this funny feeling in my stomach and it's not going to go away so I start to work on the play and I start to feel better hmm until I realized geez I need to tell the original author what I'd done so I reach out to Paul tell him about my adaptation of his book into a play and when I hit Send on that email it's like jumping into a bottomless pit scary yet exhilarating thank God Paul wrote back and we cultivated a wonderful friendship and started to collaborate on the play until we two got stuck that play was at a crossroads yet again we needed actors to act in it so I flew to New York got to meet my all-time favorite author work write and excite him and bring this plate of life with actors in a staged reading so after this creative highlight of my life I fly back home and we decide to look at it later with fresh eyes 2013 yeah I get that funny feeling again so I start to work now on the final draft make a few minor Corrections and then say listen I have to share this with the world and give the play permission to find its own sacred space find a theater to be produced and find actors to act in it find an audience to see it and that's when it hits me the biggest secret of creativity creativity is cyclical creativity is trying to tell you to share your creations with the world and in doing so giving your creations permission to find their own sacred space to inspire others to shake to move to nurture to grow nothing's original we all know that it's all rehashed remix tree dashed recycled but filtered through our own creative process and brought out into the world me for example I'm hugely inspired by Brenda brown Marie Forleo Danielle Laporte Jonathan field Tim Ferriss I'm inspired by my friends I'm inspired by other pieces of art that I see them in fired by every single one of these people speaking this evening I'm inspired by you or inspired by the Internet but it's all filtered through my creative process and brought out to you in this moment whoa creativity this is individual as it is universal even now me onstage you out there us in this glorious sacred space I hope you take away something from this evening and integrate it into your own creative process give it the sacred space that it needs make mistakes with it until you can't hold back and you share it with the world I wonder what is going to be a slide that caught your attention this evening the color of the shirt of the person sitting next to you or me rolling around on the floor like a cat or what about this moment this remarkable stillness in which we all know that everything is possible so I'll leave you with this we're all creative no matter what you think whether cooking a meal or conducting a symphony we all need a sacred space to do it in weather drawing outside the lines in kindergarten or acting too emotionally in an acting scene we need to make mistakes and understand the borders of our creations whether launching a digital product or showing our sculptures at an art show we need to share our creations with the world and in doing so give our creations permission to find their own sacred space to inspire others to keep that cycle going again but sometimes we need a gentle push sometimes we need a good kick in the butt so I don't know let me be that for you in your goodie bag this evening you have a permission slip and I learned this from Brenda Brown she gives you permission to write permission slips for things that you've always wanted to do now take this permission slip and you can do whatever you want with it put it on your vision or carry it in your back pocket put it in your wallet or your purse or make 147 copies of it and share it with strangers and friends alike on your permission slip it says this I give you permission allowance the ultimate green lights to listen to what creativity is trying to tell you create something truly spectacular and share it with the world however individual yet universal so huh what are you waiting for go create thank you you

26 thoughts on “What creativity is trying to tell you: Jonathan Tilley at TEDxStuttgart”

  1. This is a wonderful interpretation of how to honor your creative space. I am throwing myself out there with my creative expression and I'm not afraid of falling down.

  2. Writing a YouTube comment is creative. Thanks for the sacred space and permission to share this, YouTube.

  3. Jonathan!!!!! You are amazing! Came across this by accident whilst painting! Big hug! Love Jane Phantasma! ;)xxx

  4. Wonderful speech!! I am a 3rd grade public school teacher. I am preparing a power point on "Creative Thinking" to present to my school and to one of my college courses. Would I be able to incorporate this video within the presentation?? Very insightful!!

  5. Watched it while drop spinning alpaca fiber and getting ready to wet felt a slipper as way to avoid evaluating the writing that wants to be born from 3 yrs languishing. Thanks Jonathan.

  6. Unbelievably touching and inspiring… one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever watched and listened to! 🙂

  7. I get what you're trying to say. But, it's all mixed up. That sacred space for creativity should not be in public; keep it private. It's ok to fail in private. But when your creation fails in public, it infringes on other's sacred spaces. Don't confuse creating with creation. The first is the process, the second is the finished product. I don't think anybody wants public spaces to be over-filled with unfinished messes. Don't make it public until it's ready for prime-time.

  8. Excellent …BRAVO!! And thanks for sharing….much appreciated! Can relate as a professional artist/musician/composer who is birthing a new folk opera which has been performed publicly 20 years ago, but need to advance it to a higher venue! Have given birth to three daughters and I think giving birth to art and getting it out into the world even harder! lol

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