The Co-Creator’s Charm

I drafted this on the flight over to Atlanta, and I’m intending to read it at the end of my talk tomorrow. The talk is called “The Creative’s Curse,” about how our creative ideas always get shot down by unwanted stakeholder feedback (and how to break that cycle). I’ll be walking people though stories and examples of a new frame being possible: ways to co-create and collaborate and seek involvement on purpose, not by accident.

The opposite of a curse is what? It could be a blessing, but I asked Kendra for some help referencing the Harry Potter universe, to see if we can land on a more accessible term. She suggested “charm” — the type of spell that is a positive enchantment.

(adrienne maree brown, in her book Emergent Strategy, uses the idea of ‘spells’ to refer to any recipe or tool to help with facilitating a new direction.)

(Also, shout-out to my friend Zach for the phrasing in the second-to-last line in this particular composition. A post-shower musing he texted me last week wormed its way into my head at the right time for this.)

So this here is a kinda of spell, charm, blessing, mantra, quote, to help anchor creatives in their efforts to choose a new way of operating.

I’m most-of-the-way certain I’m going to share it in tomorrow’s talk, but I haven’t built it into the deck — this is so I can read it aloud directly from my notebook for that added sense of realness, and also because it may end up not quite feeling right, depending on the room vibes. It will be the very final bit, at the very end, if it happens. We’ll see where we go.

* * *

The Co-Creator’s Charm.
(For shifting towards a new mindset)

I am not an isolated, individual creator.
I am part of a community of co-creators.

I am not bound by today’s expiring paradigms,
I can operate from tomorrow’s emergent ways…

Whatever those might be.
One day we might have a name for them, and share a common understanding, but today, we are respectfully, curiously,
humbly and hopefully exploring.

I choose to seek a vision that is beyond me, and beyond today,
and I will try to put aside my own ambition
so I can listen more attentively
to what wants to emerge.

I will be a participant in helping make a healthy future possible
even here, where I work, on this project, today.

It will be hard sometimes, and it may take a while, challenging me in every way.

So: I will also take care of my own needs.
I will not beat myself up for times when I lose focus or patience.
I will not create enemies by othering or hating those
who make it hard for me.
I will be on the lookout to avoid short-term thinking and unhelpful shortcuts.
I will ask for help when I’m feeling drawn back in the old ways of operating.

When I find myself in positions of power, I will share it.
When I find myself noticing progress and beauty, I will amplify it.
When I see our vision of a shared abundance emerging, I will not claim it for my own, but continue to invite collaborators, to participate in this ongoing project of co-creating the future world we want to live in.

Now, let’s get back to work.

* * *

Update: I didn’t end up reading this during my talk. For two reasons:

1) The timer went on my hour, and I needed to wrap up. It wouldn’t have been fair to the listeners or the next presenter to tack this on, and it isn’t the type of piece to rush through in a hurry.

2) The talk had already stepped into the perfect, real-life emotional territory to end on. I was able to share a story about an experience I had getting to the end of my rope with a client, where the empathy that was offered me by both my boss and my wife shone radiantly. It ended with a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “In wildness is the preservation of the world” — and I encouraged the audience that their own humanity and emotion, in all its wildness, will indeed be what saves us.

It was that story that had people talking to me afterwards: they thanked me for my honesty in telling stories about failure, that humanized the pain we all go through, in a way that invited us to choose love and realness anyway, as the true long-term strategy. No “charm” needed.