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The third part of the Creative Genius Equation is "D" for Desire.
To desire is to strongly wish for or want something. Desire is often intertwined with feelings like longing, anticipation and expectation. Some desires are easily fulfilled, like an ice cream cone on a hot day but often, unexpressed desires go underground yet they rarely go away. The Creative Genius Equation plays a role in bringing to the surface desires that you have kept secret, perhaps for a long, long time.
Sometimes people tell me about their secret desires. It may be the career they never pursued, or a talent they knew they had but were never encouraged to take seriously. We probably all have desires we’ve pushed down and neglected. You may have deferred your dreams because of your family responsibilities, telling yourself that someday, when the kids are older, or you have enough savings… Whatever the reason, your dream is still there, waiting for you to activate it with your desire.
My TEDx Draw Your Future video inspired many people to make change and surface that dormant part of themselves:
So how did that happen?
She started by imagining something, drawing it out in a picture, then playing out the scenario of that future in her mind. When she got discouraged, she went back to the picture and embellished it with all the best possible outcomes until her small actions led to her eventual success. But many people, who followed a similar process, when they got stuck, began to create a story based on all the reasons that something like this would never happen. Replacing their image of success with an image dredged up from a past, that they really didn’t want.
Unfortunately, this is how your brain operates. It is a pattern-making machine that becomes confused by the disconnect between what you desire and what you have in this moment. When this disconnect happens, your brain reverts back to old, familiar patterns of thinking and acting based on what you have done before, using well established neural pathways. Let’s call this your safety zone.
One way to break from the past and make it possible to move in a new direction, is to, like the woman who became that visionary coach, tap into your reservoir of desire. Your desire is like rocket fuel for your motivation. A colleague told me that when she asked herself, “What do I really, really, really want?” she found that the first two answers that came to her were generally what she thought she should want, versus what she actually wanted. She claimed that asking the same question over and over again brought up desires she hadn’t let herself ever feel before.
When you imagine a positive future that electrifies you and sparks your Creative Genius you are tapping into desire. When your imagination plays out that full color dream you write a new story taking you beyond what you know into the future where your natural, uninhibited creativity flows. When you do this, you alter the chemical processes within your brain, dopamine kicks in and you find yourself filled with the belief that you CAN achieve what you desire.
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In a study about daydreaming,² researchers found that those who daydreamed most about the future had the highest levels of attention control and were best able to maintain their daydreams. They concluded that most people have a “prospective bias” and, when given time for self-reflection, had daydreams oriented toward the future and the pursuit of their long-term goals. Daydreams appeared to be a key component to goal achievement.
Here is an example of how this worked, even on the fly!
Two classical musicians moved to Florida. In the months before they moved, they’d emailed various orchestras to try to find one to play with. Once in Florida, they heard about a college orchestra in Tampa that accepted musicians from the community, so they fired off an email. Seconds later they got a reply from the conductor.
“Could they be at an audition in an hour?”
Grabbing their French horn and oboe, they jumped in the car and headed out, hoping they could navigate the wilds of Tampa traffic and arrive in time. As they drove along, Stan, sitting in the passenger seat, started drawing their desired goals on some scraps of paper. He drew a stick figure of someone playing the oboe with a happy face and reeds working well in Florida!
As they drove, they daydreamed about the possibilities of their new life playing in the college orchestra. When they arrived, the conductor introduced herself and apologized that she no longer had time for an audition. Instead she invited them to sit in with the orchestra and just play along. Being skilled musicians. they jumped in. At the end of the evening, she told them that they balanced the overall sound and blended in so well there was no need for an audition, and she invited them to join the orchestra.
The pictures they drew as they drove along helped them stay focused on their desire to find an orchestra, filling them with a steady stream of belief that it was possible. When desire ignites a spark and you follow your intuitive nudge with excitement and action, you literally rewire your brain for success. You begin expanding what you believe is possible by playing out the grandeur of your new future and looking at it from different angles and adding details like what you’ll wear and who you’ll meet.
In fact, the more feelings you can add, the more focused and clear your dream becomes. It is this consistent focus on a positive future that writes over your old programming, just like the musicians who imagined scenes where they successfully auditioned for the orchestra. In this way they patterned their brains for success.
This process becomes much easier with practice. As a drama therapist, I have witnessed the power of practice. This week your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to practice rewiring a positive result in one thing you have dreamed about changing.
First identify a dream you have had for a long time. Pull it out, dust it off, and use your intuition and imagination to imagine yourself being successful doing it. Like cooking an amazing meal or surpassing your health goals. Maybe you haven’t written a poem in a long time or wanted to do a short monologue or play an instrument for a friend.
Once you have your dream dusted, ask for a tip on what you do to bring it to life.
Once you have an idea, draw and dream it out - this picture of success, focusing and expanding it with your imagination. Now go do one simple thing and no matter how excited or nervous you are, acknowledge yourself and see what cool and surprising things you learn in your rewiring.
You are amazing. You are limitless. Here’s to Creative Genius You.
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² led by Jonathan Schooler at UCSB