One of the greatest limiting beliefs about creative work is that this work — ideation, creation, innovation, implementation, and even decisions, judgments — comes from the mind.
It’s even in the language we use to describe the work: we refer to knowledge work and thought-leadership, we prize research and information, we praise people for having a “sharp mind.”
The problem is that this belief leads thought-leaders, mind-workers, and other “intellectuals” to prioritize their minds, causing us to overthink and over-intellectualize many (perhaps, most?) things. We may excel at cognitive understanding and mistake that for true knowledge.
To put it simply: we can get stuck in our heads, trying to rationalize every decision and action, analyzing every strategy until we’ve spun ourselves into a tangled web and overanalyzed to the point of abstraction.
When we are lost in the maze of our mind, we disconnect from the body, which is the true source of creativity.
The Body’s Intelligence
Our bodies have an intelligence beyond what our conscious mind can appreciate and recognize.
It’s the body, not the mind, that is responsible for identifying our best ideas and creative insights. The conscious mind is only responsible for about 10% of our functioning.
The seeds and sparks of creativity, the genius ideas that propel us forward, the intuition that leads to innovation, all emerge through the body.
They arrive in the form of gut feelings, sensory cues, insights, and intuition. Goosebumps. A hollowness in the pit of your stomach. A stickiness in your throat. An expansiveness in your chest. Light feet. Sensations you can’t even articulate — that embodied “knowing.”
Creativity Flows From Movement
Creativity flows from the way we move — as the body flows, so flow your ideas. Stagnation in the body leads to creative stuckness.
And yet it’s so easy to lose connection to the body when we sit in front of a screen all day, or when we run from one thing to the next, preoccupied with our busy-ness and the running list of things to do and places to be, or trying to corral the endless information that gets thrown at us during the day, or that we seek out in distraction. Our typical work activities keep us trapped in the maze of the mind.
Creativity incubates and gestates; it grows from within. In the feminine paradigm we talk about “birthing” creative work. This isn’t coincidence. The energetic source of creativity is the womb space, where new life — in the form of ideas, innovations, and literal life — is nourished.
The challenge for creative leaders is to avoid the trap of believing that the mind has all the answers, and to stay in the body. Learning to listen to the body, opening to its messages, and trusting the intelligence of wisdom that perhaps cannot (yet) be proven — this is where the best work originates.
There is research to support this, but you don’t need someone else’s research. Next time you’re feeling stuck, go for a walk or do some other physical practice and watch what emerges.
The best way to find creative flow is to move your body.
Creativity is a full-body process.