We adults take life too seriously. And it shuts down our ability to access our genius. If you are even a little bit familiar with greek mythology, you have most likely heard of muses. They are the goddesses of inspiration of literature, science and the arts. Considered the source of knowledge, They are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.
In an interview for Radio Lab, Elizabeth Gilbert confessed that she believes in them. She thinks they roam the earth looking for the right environment to plant a seed of insight that will contribute in some way to the world’s evolution. The environment has to be right or they will look for someone else to bring these ideas to reality…
Steven Pressfield, writes about them in The Art of War, “artists have invoked the muse since time immemorial. There is great wisdom in this. There is magic to effacing our human arrogance and humbly entreating help from a source we cannot see, hear, touch or smell.”
I believe in them too.
I have experienced actual visits from what I can only explain as the muses. Once I had to take notes in the middle of the night to capture all the ideas that were coming into my brain. A big part of this course was a gift from the muses.
But the muses will not visit, like I said, if the environment is not right…. the first and most important step in creating a welcoming environment for the muses is to give yourself permission to play.
I had a client who was very frustrated because she wanted to write a book but each time she sat down to write, she shut down. She was unable to think of anything to write or have any good ideas. I asked her what thoughts she was having as she did this and she said something along the lines of “you are kidding yourself if you think you are cut out to be a writer,” “ you are silly to think you could actually do this,” “you are ridiculous,” etc. She was very unwilling to be vulnerable by just sitting there and writing a shitty first draft. She was like the cruelest bully in her head about the whole affair and most of the time she gave up on her writing a few minutes into it.
I had another client who had an obsession with Coke A’ Cola. She wanted to lose weight, so she wanted to stop drinking it. During a particularly hard week, she binged on Coke, fast food and candy. When I asked her what was going on in her life, she said that she had just used up all her days off (she gets 4 a month) to help her daughter’s nanny with paperwork to repatriate to Canada. On top of this, her free time was pretty non-existent. She was training to be a midwife and constantly on call. When she was home she was either studying or taking care of her very young daughter.
Both of the stories have one thing in common: a lack of willingness to allow for any vulnerability, joy or sheer childlike play into life.
Play is the birthplace for creativity, clarity, and innovation. It gives you the ability to see new angles, broaden your perspective and problem solve in ways you never imagined.
Approaching your work as a child would is the key to welcoming the muses and opening the door to creativity, clarity and innovation.
If you don’t know how to play, you have to access your inner child. Ask yourself how would a child approach this project?
Think about it this way:
Children are not attached to results. They don’t care what other people will think or say about their behavior. They do it for the sake of doing it because it inspires them. They know what they want in the moment and they go for it. They get extremely frustrated when they are blocked from what they want — they can get very stubborn or indignant when they aren’t allowed to do what they want.
Think about the examples above, when my first client was unwilling to allow herself to just sit and write and explore, her creativity shut off. She became completely blocked. That is a very unhappy inner child.
In the second example, this client’s inner child got indignant and said to her (nonverbally), if I have no opportunity or space for joy and play, I will do whatever I need to do to exert some amount of power – I’ll drink as much coke and eat as much fast food and candy as I want.
Children are the ambassadors of play and a friend to the muses because they are constantly using trial and error via play in order to learn how to function in their world – how to walk, how to eat, how to get dressed.
When you allow for joy and play and fun, you invoke the muses. Your inner child transforms into a source of creativity, innovation and opportunity. And this will translate into your work – your ideas, your message, your voice, your programs. You will have something profound to contribute to the world. You will connect with your mission.
This is how, as women on a mission, we set ourselves apart and make an impact. This is where we get the inspiration and creativity to say what has not yet been said. This is how we contribute to the dialogue in a very crowded marketplace. It’s how we challenge the status quo, defy expectations and surprise people.
You can approach everything you do as play. My favorite way to invite more play into life is to ask yourself this: How can I… and have fun?
How can I prepare an amazing lesson plan and have a blast?
How can I make dinner for my kids and have fun?
How can I drop my car off at the service and have a good time?
How can I risk falling flat on my face speaking in front of a group of 100 women at this conference and still feel joyful like a kid?
So, how will you play today?
And if you want to check out my course you can learn more and join, Be Brazen in Business and Life, here.