Work and Creative Desire


Creativity in Work

I’m preparing to co-teach the annual fall class, Creativity and Leadership, at Stanford Continuing Studies. We have a full house, again: 50 students.

Much of this particular course is based on the Stanford Graduate School of Business course, ‘Creativity in Business’. In its day, it was a highly popular course for business students, many of whom went on to create some of the core businesses that were the foundation of what has become Silicon Valley.

In this class we speak of Self and Work, capitalized with intention. Self is a term many are familiar with: who you truly are, your deep Self, Essence, true nature. Many aren’t as familiar to Work, to what it means when we capitalize the ‘W’.

“W” is the work of your life. Some may refer to this as purpose. I like to think of it as that which brings you most alive.

Spiraling Deeper

I’ve been wrestling with this very question, myself.

I spent many years working as a programmer/analyst for a financial institution. While I loved programming, it certainly wasn’t my Work.

After I graduated from school in mid-life, I could see that I did not want to spend more decades doing that work.

So I ventured out to find something else. I became a coach, a teacher of Creativity in Business, and subsequently a writer. I’ve been teaching this material for eight years, now, and I have to admit, even as a teacher, and maybe most especially because I teach this work, I’ve been spiraling down closer and closer to discovering what I love.

Re-discovering what we love (and yes it is re-discovering, since we did know it in our youth) is integral to learning to love oneself. After all, to truly honor what we love, what is at the heart of our soul’s deepest longing, is both honoring of Self, and honoring of the Sacred.

I’ve kept what I love deep down in places where I can’t see it, where it can’t pull at my heart. It is painful to do what you don’t love for over forty hours per week.

I put what I love away a long, long time ago when I was very young and decided that I shouldn’t love it, but instead should love what I saw adults in my life doing. After all, they were the wise ones, right?

Not. So. Fast.

The juicy joy of doing what you love makes you come alive. Deeply alive.

The sheer pleasure of doing what the soul loves emanates love from the soul into the world.

Think about it. When someone spends decades doing work they are ambivalent about, maybe even hate, what kind of effect does that have on them? on the people around them? the world around them? the world at large?

What is the wisdom, here?

Creative Desire

I’ve been writing (for the course I’m teaching this fall in Berkeley, The Whole Woman) about what it would be to ‘work’ from creative desire, pleasure, love and joy, rather than from striving, pushing, and sheer will. Flow doesn’t happen from the latter.

For many of us, just considering our desires and pleasure causes us to cramp, to contract, to tighten up. Yet, when we are in the place of pleasure and joy, there can be a delicious kind of freedom and devotion to beauty, to harmony and love, even to the truth.

My friend, Mandy Blake, shares the following quote on her site, and for me it truly speaks to what a shift from work to Work might mean for us all…

“I feel that the attitude “work is a means to an end, which you have to put up with to get to the fun in life” is pathological.  I think it results in no end of harm.  The philosopher David Hume had a motto which was “work is its own reward.”  If this thought is just meant to express the Protestant work ethic gone mad, then I think it is awful.  But if it means we should do the work which is of itself fulfilling and meaningful then I think it is right.  If people the world over stopped doing the work they didn’t believe in there would be no arms trade, more equality, and greater well-being for everyone.”  ~Robert Poynton

The Artist in Me

I am coming to the place where I can finally re-claim the artist within. As a child, I love to paint. As a teenager, I painted in oils, taking after my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I have paintings painted by each of these women in my matriline. Yet, at some point, I put down the brush.

One way of seeing this is to do what we love as a hobby, while doing what we’re ‘good’ at or what can make us a lot of money for a living. And, there might be a different way…

A question I’m exploring:

Can what brings us pleasure, sheer pleasure and joy, be what financially supports us and helps us to remember the sacred to a world that seems to have forgotten what these are?

I do know if so, it will be because rather than my intention being to save the world, my intention must be to do what I love, while I let go of the outcome. Perhaps it’s as simple as people doing what the soul loves, emanates the beauty, the peace, the joy that is at the heart of a truly alive world, a world that is sacred.

While my soul comes alive through art, creativity is NOT about art…it is about the art of being fully human. Creativity is what we are. It’s our nature. We are all creative creators.

And, you?

Take a moment to consider what it is you really love to do. Not what you’ve been conditioned to love, or taught to love, or believe you are supposed to love, but that which, when you do it, causes you to forget time, feel most alive, joyous and a deeply connected part of this wild and wooly world.

Can you let yourself do what you truly love?

Can you know you deserve to do what you love, and that the world might be better off for you doing what you love?

What is your Work?

Early Bird Discount

Tomorrow, September 18th, is the last day for the Early Bird discount for my new course, The Whole Woman. If you live in the Bay Area, or know someone who does, check it out here, and register here. I’d love to have you join me.

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