Josh Linkner: Cultivate Creativity and Build Success

When I was in eighth grade, I got the worst grade of my academic career in art class: C+.

It was a tough pill to take for an all-As student, especially because what brought my grade down was how poorly the teacher determined I traced a comic from the Sunday newspaper.

From then on, I believed I had no artistic ability whatsoever.

Until I was in my 30s and a mother and I took Asher and Eliana to an art class at the BBAC. My toddlers painted on canvas and the teacher encouraged me to pick up a paintbrush and dip it in the pots of gorgeous color.

“Oh, I can’t paint,” I said, having never tried, but believing what the teacher told me when I was 14.

“Of course you can,” she said. “There is no right or wrong in art. Paint.”

And so I did. I bought canvases and acrylics and dozens of paintbrushes and, when I was going through my divorce, I painted all of my emotions and newfound freedom onto a bright yellow canvas that I hung for three years above my desk – to remind me of my innate creativity and my infinite freedom.

Creativity, said Josh Linkner this morning at the JCC Book Fair’s Business Breakfast, is the difference between success and stagnation. Creativity and innovation are game-changing, says the ePrize founder and chairman and author of new book, Disciplined Dreaming.  Forget those innate skills and you may as well hang up your cleats.

How do we unleash potential? By trying anything and everything, risk failing, falling on our butts, and getting up again.

Josh’s talk today reminded me of something I already know: I must begin each day with ONE FULL HOUR of time not racing to check things off my list but filled with reading, thinking, writing, getting my creative wheels to start spinning.

“Mistakes are the portals to discovery,” he said. Make them. Make many. Because in the end, it’s that 500th try that leads us to something really brilliant and never-been-done.

A 2008 Harvard study revealed that creativity is 85% a learned behavior. So there’s no excuse.

Thanks for the reminder. I needed it. I bet we all do.

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