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This week’s guest post is from Twitter friend John McClung, who describes himself as having been, “a student, college debater, debate coach, manager, food consultant, builder marketer/home & community designer, and real estate agent with a mission of helping people make good decisions. I love my wife, wine, food, Kentucky basketball and traveling. I am currently working on new twists on food, and interpreting wine tastings on canvas using all appropriate shades of red. ” What a variety of interests and activities!

And John’s varied interests are further confirmation why it’s great to have guests bloggers with varied experiences: his post uses a Harry Chapin song as inspiration. Trust me folks, you’d have never gotten a Harry Chapin-related post from me. Yet, John’s take on it is a great example of how we can all try to get back to the creativity children so readily express:

Harry Chapin wrote a song about a young boy starting school, being told that “Flowers are red, and green leaves are green.” His response of seeing “so many colors in the rainbow” and using every one, was not well received and eventually gave way to the teacher’s criticism and philosophy of seeing things “the way they always have been seen.”

Want to be more creative? Let your inner child out.

If you feel that you aren’t as creative as you could be, there is a good chance you are looking at things through the rules and the “no’s” you have received over the years. We tend to apply things we are taught and have experienced to criticize ourselves. It is the self-critique that tends to kill our creativity faster than anything. The young boy above was not looking to criticize: he was in wonder of the possibilities. He wanted to incorporate all that he saw and started out not understanding “the rules.”

When I say “let your inner child out,” I’m suggesting you look at things with wonder. There is the sometimes overused command to think outside the box. I’m suggesting that you understand that there is no box to start. “The box” is an imaginary limit programmed into our psyche by others. Go back to the place where the programming doesn’t exist.

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to create: art, literature, a garden, a business, public policy, or perhaps a new dish for dinner. Look at the possibilities and not the tradition. After all being creative is no more than looking at and doing things in different ways.

Can’t release the inner child? Be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to abandon the “traditions,” “rules”, and “deep seated attitudes” about what is and what is not appropriate. Change is hard, and creativity is change others have not thought about.

To be evolutionary, you simply look at what is and ask: How could I change it to be different in a way that works? Here’s an example of how evolutionary change can work.

We have friends who occasionally join us to drink some very nice wines and have dinner. One friend once told me he didn’t like grits. Ever since, grits have been on the menu!

First, they were cooked with chicken stock, cream and finished with smoked Gouda cheese and served as a side dish. The second time, they were used in place of rice, with prosciutto substituting for nori and rolled with pablano, roasted red pepper, and andouille sausage resembling sushi. Finally, I cooked the grits in peach nectar, and rolled with fruit, and served on sauce for dessert.

Each rendition was an evolutionary step leading to a new, no rules variation. Sort of like the little boy who simply saw all the colors of the rainbow and wanted to use every one. So go ahead and release your inner child! – John McClung


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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “Flowers Are Red – Guest Post by John McClung”

  1. Kely McClung says:

    Really Nice!

  2. AbhinavatST says:

    Great post. Creativity is an unwritten action item for everyone but it's nice to receive a reminder.

    And you're right – it doesn't end after childhood. The mindset that fosters coloring outside of the lines to make something better out of nothing applies both to elementary school activities and complex business opportunities.