Building Your Creative Confidence

Do you believe in your own creative skills?


Chris Barez-Brown is an author and creative leadership master. In this video ,he talks about the essential ingredient to being creative: you have to believe you can.

This belief is key to creating the right energy because, as Chris says, “unless you’ve got confidence in yourself and your creative output, nothing will change.”

Watch this video for tip on how to foster innovation and creativity.

Creativity takes a certain amount of energy and sometimes of course it will not go right, so unless you've got confidence in who you are and your creative output, nothing will change. So the question is where does belief come from and how come it's so important to us performing well? Well, on a performance side, we've seen it for centuries.

There's a classic example with Roger Bannister. He was the first guy who beat the four-minute mile. Now, nobody believed it was possible until he did it. Physicians said the human heart and lungs didn't have the capacity to carry a man so fast and yet Roger Bannister managed to achieve the four-minute mile.

Within one year, over 30 people had done the same. Within two years, over 300 people had done the same. Now, the human species hadn't suddenly become faster and stronger; they just believed. So we see countless examples of why belief is important to performance.

The question is, though, where does belief come from? Quite simply it comes from our experiences and the way we interpret them. So years ago I was a little chorister, I used to sing songs and I was ever so cute. I remember I was 10 years old and I got a big part in Noye's Fludde by Benjamin Britten and I was Jaffett and had to sing the highest note in the Hereford Cathedral. Now, I had an outfit, I had all my friends there, my family, it was full of hundreds of people. Afterwards, everyone came up and said, "Oh, you were the cutest, you were the youngest, you hit the highest note." That was my experience.

From that point on, I have believed I can perform in public and guess what? It's now what I do for a living because the experience reinforced a belief in who I am. Now, equally, you can have an experience that you interpret in a negative way.

The classic example is the daughter who does a lovely painting at school, comes home and shows mummy, "Mummy, Mummy, look at my painting" and mummy goes, "That's gorgeous darling. What is it?" Now the daughter says, "Well, it's a tree, Mummy." Mummy, with the best will in the world says, "Well look, a tree look like this and it not purple and it doesn't have upside-down roots and it's not all orange like that, it looks like this."

It's very easy for the daughter to interpret, "I got it wrong, therefore I'm not good at painting, therefore I'm not creative and therefore, I will not necessarily show off my paintings so much in the future." You can get positive cycles and you can get negative ones too.

So what can you do to make sure you get positive ones? Well, the first thing you can do is you can experiment more. Create more opportunities to be creative every single day. Do not make them big, risky things. Just simple stuff like how do I make this meeting more interesting, more fun, more energetic, how to recruit people in a more groovy way. Constantly experiment and you'll have more chance to get reinforcement you are creative. Do not save it for special occasions.

The second thing is get flexible on the way you interpret your performance. Creativity cannot always work. When it goes wrong, learn from it and go, "Great, it was a good experiment." Our perception of our performance is more important than the reality.

And just to make a point on that, I used to run a lot of hippie courses, my friends called them, and one weekend we spent some time revisiting past experiences. I remember this lady in the group having this vivid memory of going on a picnic as a young girl. She was a toddler, very small, was in the back seat of the car, overexcited and she kept kicking the front seat going "Mummy, Mummy! We're going on a picnic." After a while, Mummy said "You know what? I've had enough of this. If you do it again you are out of the car."

So she had this vivid recollection of kicking the seat again and Mummy pulling over to the side of the road, open the door, taking her out and leaving her on her own on a country road for the whole afternoon as she drove off and had a picnic. She was quite traumatized by this memory, as you can imagine, so we got her to phone her mum, we coached her through it that evening. She phoned her mum and the conversation went a bit like this, "Mummy, tell me about this picnic experience. What on earth was going on?" And her mum said, "Well you know what, it did happen, but we hadn't left the driveway and you weren't out of the car for more than 10 seconds."

So my point here is, it's our perception that counts. Every time you experiment, every time you try something creative, you can always find a reason why it was creative. So if you get flexible with that perspective, it can only build your confidence. Ultimately, your belief is yours. Other people can impact it short-term but it's ultimately under your control. If it's not where you want it to be, make it shiny, make it big, make it dangerous.

Chris Barez-Brown

Chris Barez-Brown has been unleashing the creative potential of worldwide organizations including Nike, Coca Cola, Diageo, The Gates Foundation, Sony and WPP. He is a master of metamorphosis, challenging and transforming businesses th...

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