I had the very great pleasure of seeing Robert Fulghum live in Portland at the Rotary International Convention in 1990. I did not know who he was at that point and went to see his talk out of curiosity.
The simplicity and depth of what this author said has stuck with me to this day and I immediately bought some of his books. One of the things he said was something to the effect that if you ask a three year old, “Are you a dancer?” they will say, “Yes!” and demonstrate their ability for you, probably many times over. Ask the same person this question when they are in high school and chances are they will answer, “No, I’m not a dancer!”
What happened to the child? The confidence the three year old has somehow been eroded. What do we do as parents, as peers, as employers that destroys the fire that burns within individuals? We tend to focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. Creative expression is dampened and sometimes extinguished by our perhaps good intention of protecting the other person from being hurt or criticized.
I am certain that Beethoven, Edison, Schweitzer, and Einstein were not your run-of-the-mill children. My guess is someone encouraged them, and they never lacked confidence as a result. Look what they were able to give the world!
What creativity are we silencing in our daily lives? In ourselves, are we listening to the naysayers when we want to try new ideas? As parents, are we telling our children they are incapable of doing something before they even try? As employers, are we enforcing rules that make everyone think and do things the same way?
Take a chance and allow the creative juices to percolate, in yourself, and in others. You will be amazed by the results! You might be a dancer!
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