[To stay updated on the release of my book, sign up here.] When I was about seven, I grabbed my favorite Little Mermaid trading cards and my cousin Rachel and hit the front yard to peddle those bad boys for about five cents each. We took our orange and yellow plastic kids' table to the curb, set up shop and started yelling, "Stuff for SAYyulllllllllllll!" Repeatedly. At the top of our little kid lungs. It was most certainly my first "barbaric yawp."
I loved, I mean loved, selling those trading cards. And by selling I mean screaming at the top of my shrill seven-year-old register that there they were and at a great price! When I think back to this childhood game, I realize that what I loved wasn't the sale. (Because I think I only ever sold one. Thanks Mom!) It was the sharing. It was the screaming out loud about something I loved. Something I believed in. Those little blue cards (some with sparkles) gave me such joy and for just a measly nickel, you could love them, too. In fact, I distinctly remember conjuring up "deals" in my head -- Three For The Price Of One!, Your First Card Free!, Buy One, Get a Matchbox Car FREE! -- because I so badly wanted to get what I loved into other people's hands.
This is exactly how I feel about creativity. I want to spread an idea I love and absolutely believe in and it's this:
Every single human being has the capacity to be creative and to lead a life that is authentic. And through that creativity and authenticity, we each have the power to change the world for the better.
We are deeply suited to be agents of change. We are well-equipped to make others' lives fuller and richer. We have everything we need to create things that make a real difference. If we can get out of our own way to build the lives we always wanted instead of the fabricated ones we're always measuring ourselves against by admitting our creative capacity and shoring up our reserve of willpower, then this is the most powerful way to, as MJ said, "heal the world [and] make it a better place."
I have never had a problem identifying myself as a creative. From the moment I graduated from cooing and gurgling, my whole life has been built around that identity. But I have talked to so many people who don't identify this way, even as I see evidence to the contrary. I see creativity in the way a mother raises her autistic son, or how a financial planner educates his clients, or in the way a bodega owner sets up his shop, or how an Uber driver treats her car-guests. This creative ability is in all of us. When we couple that with living an authentic life, we give permission to everyone around us to do the same. People notice how we speak with a bit more power and want to listen closer. They ask us what we're on. And we get the chance to empower them, simply because we have empowered ourselves. Not to mention, owning that we're creatives also means we start to problem solve in a more elegant way. We use creativity as a tool to make our communities and companies stronger. We help public leaders come to solutions. We provoke the public to think differently. We innovate and push society forward. If we recognize how much power we have if only we'd choose to use it, it's easy to see that holding onto our implicit creativity is, in fact, kinda selfish.
I'm into this idea. I want you to be, too:
You have something more to give.
The world is waiting for that one thing that can only come from you.
You know exactly how to give it.
Say it enough times to yourself. Consider that it might be true. And then get to work building that life. We need what you have to give.