Creativity is the currency of the future.
Posts in Creative Rebellion
Contemplation & Creativity

As I write this essay I’m sitting outside, on a balcony, overseeing the Santa Monica mountains. There’s the wafting citronella scent of a burning candle that keeps the flies at bay; a light breeze; the whirl of hummingbirds; the buzz of the bees coming up from the koi pond and the snorting of my French Bulldog, Momo, at my feet. Yes, it’s bucolic, idyllic, and I’m grateful for not having to put up with the blare of car horns and the thumping of helicopter blades overhead  (even though motorcyclists do love to rumble through the canyon at 7 am on Sundays) but most importantly I’m grateful for the lack of distraction. I can think. And the irony (or hypocrisy) that I’m writing this essay about disconnecting from screens on a MacBook Air isn’t lost on me but in this case, the interaction with the screen is active – I’m not passively intaking Instagram or Snapchat feeds. 

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How about now? Now is a good time.

There’s a running joke in my family. Whenever we talk about what we want to do someday, the response tends to be “How about now? Now is a good time.”

If you want to have an impact, now is always the time to:

  1. Make music

  2. Write a book

  3. Learn Italian

  4. Change the world

As a memento mori, reminding me that time is truly the most valuable commodity, several people who were part of my childhood through adulthood recently passed but musicians always have a special place in my heart. David Bowie, Prince and now Ric Ocasek, lead singer and writer for the seminal American new wave band The Cars who passed on September 15th at the age of 75, which admittedly is pretty long for a rock and roller.

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Creative courage

It takes courage to create. It takes bravery to approach the tabula rasa, whether it’s a blank page or canvas or Sketch file. I find that I move from the state of contemplative courage into the active state of bravery, when the duende has shown up with a surge of natural determination: Then there is the electric slap of paint splattering crimson across the virgin white canvas; the torrent of unabated words descends; the heightened state of sensibilities that yank the soul out of the muck of the everyday reminding you that you’ve been sleep-walking for some time. Like Picasso, I’ve always preferred the duende over the muse. 

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Creative RebellionJohn Couch
Your gut knows

Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote about “Thin-slicing” in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The concept of thin-slicing is essentially the ability to find the pattern, the bigger picture, with only a small window of information. Years of experience come into play here and a definitive decision comes through, loud and clear. This isn’t guessing. This is your brain seeing the whole picture in an instant and finding the path forward. This is your gut. 

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Creative RebellionJohn Couch
Get into the flow

I’ve always encouraged my design team to do something beyond their day job. Yes, work is of paramount importance, for learning, growing professionally and of course paying for rent, healthcare and groceries but I’ve found that if you are only immersed in the day job, and come to identify who you are by only your title and brand association to the company, you will be at risk for losing who you truly are. Also, the more an employee exercises creative work beyond the glow of the RGB screen, the better. Many of my team focus on meditation, music, ceramics, baking, yoga and martial arts before and after work. I write in the early mornings and paint at night before bed (when I’m working on a series). Your perspective broadens and your sense of self deepens when doing work that is not directly for monetary return but for being in the creative moment. This reduces anxiety and, looked at from a business value proposition, you get a much more focused and effective employee in the office. 

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Good ideas

Ideas are plentiful. Good ideas are fragile and elusive. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to develop really good ideas in the office as the environment is geared towards “busyness” and business. Ideas require space and relaxation to arise and develop. Reality and practicalness are the enemies of the good idea. How often have you heard ideas shot down in the conference room or, worse, ridiculed or ignored? No is always easier to say than yes. Good ideas require complete license to actively be ridiculous. The crazier the better. Combinations that should have nothing to do with each other find non judgmental intertwining usually when you are in the shower or taking a walk or about to fall asleep. 

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