Introduction from Alana:
I was first introduced to Jan Sokoloff Harness by Communications Consultant, Kate O’Neill Rauber, who you met earlier this month. The first time Jan and I met in person, with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, she gave me the gift of a brand new pair of “Groucho” glasses; yes, I liked her from the start! Jan is the Chief Creative Instigator of Sokoloff Harness Communications LLC, the firm she launched in 2002. In her previous life, she was a radio reporter, news director, talk show host, and creative director for a really cool agency. During her years in communications, Jan has gained respect for her unflinching strategic counsel; fast, accurate and on-target copy; and the rare ability to boost creativity, teamwork and performance with clients that range from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit organizations. A selected participant in the 2015 Twitter Fiction Festival, she is the author of the Creative Instigation blog and the Creative Chai e-book. An award-winning writer, published poet and popular speaker, Jan inspires people around the country – from school kids to CEOs – to overcome creative blocks and tap into their own amazing talents.
Guest blog from Jan Sokoloff Harness, Chief Creative Instigator, Sokoloff Harness Communications LLC
John Lennon once said that, “Every child is an artist until he’s told he’s not an artist.”
At some point in time, most of us are told we’re not an artist. In my case, the pronouncement wasn’t subtle. I was in fourth grade and Mr. O’Neill, the art teacher, came over to my desk while I was drawing a horse. He loomed over my 9-year-old self, told me I was drawing the horse all wrong and proceeded to draw it for me.
Of course, it’s not just art. As life goes along, we’re told we can’t sing. Or write. Or get decent grades in math, or get accepted at an Ivy League school or fix a leaking pipe. And the message often sounds like this:
“I’m telling you this for your own good. Your voice isn’t that strong. It’s a really competitive choir and you’ll never make the first cut. I just don’t want you to be disappointed!”
Um, OK. Thanks, Mom.
If we hear the wrong message at the wrong time from the right person, we believe it. We take that person’s negative view to heart and allow it to change how we see ourselves.
Fortunately, we can shut those negative voices down and let our creativity shine through. Here’s the trick:
- Hear the voices. Consciously think about the unconscious voices that are in your head and damaging your psyche. Consider an area of creativity – whether it’s baking or writing or photography. If you think you’re not talented, is your opinion based on someone else’s perception?
- Realize that the experts aren’t always right. O’Neill was probably a terrific art teacher – maybe a fabulous artist in his own right. But the morning he told me I couldn’t draw, he might have been angry with his wife. He might have had a bad night’s sleep. Maybe he had a toothache. Or maybe I was just playing around with that particular horse. Bottom line? It happened 40 years ago. Why should it still matter?
- Picture a stop sign. Whenever the negative voices come to mind, envision a literal octagonal stop sign in your head. Then, stop the voice. Force your mind to turn the corner and go in a different and positive direction.
If, after this exercise, you still want to hear someone else’s voice in your head, hear mine. Hear this: You are creative. You can write a dazzling sentence, put a new twist on an old recipe, or make someone who is sad feel better. You can come up with a strategic business solution. You can do it.
How do I know? Simple. I’ve done creativity presentations around the country. I’ve talked with thousands of people about writing, art, work and life. And I have yet to meet a person who’s not creative.
It’s all a matter of perspective. So, change yours! Let your creativity shine through.
P.S. Want another tip? The fastest way on earth to change your perspective is to put on a pair of Groucho glasses. Seriously. Try it. And if you don’t own Groucho glasses, well … we need to talk.