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Learning Over Knowing

The Crow & The Pitcher [Aesop’s Fables]

In a spell of dry weather, when the Birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty Crow found a pitcher with a little water in it. But the pitcher was high and had a narrow neck, and no matter how he tried, the Crow could not reach the water. The poor thing felt as if he must die of thirst.

Then an idea came to him. Picking up some small pebbles, he dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it was near enough so he could drink.

~In a pinch a good use of our wits may help us out.

As creatives, the ways we create, solve problems, and make decisions are based on our individual mindsets and experiences. Our thoughts and imaginations are the fuel used to manifest ideas, strategies, and products that help the world move ever forward. But what happens when we get stuck? What happens when relying on what we already know just isn’t cutting it?

Like the crow in the fable, there are times that we face roadblocks and dry spells in our creative process. The words won’t come together, the paint won’t sit just right on the canvas, the usual constant melodies weaving through streams of consciousness suddenly muted without a sound. The creative tank is on E, the thirst for a solution is real, and the fear that all the momentum and creativity that got us here is dead is enough to paralyze the most seasoned of artist.

How we see the world, how we create, how we exist is mainly governed by one of two mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Anthony D. Fredericks Ed.D. of Psychology Today notes that “a ‘fixed’ mindset inhibits, quashes, and crushes the creative process.” When we choose knowing over learning, we limit our access to the unlimited sources of inspiration around us.

Growth mindsets inspire a passion for learning. When the focus shifts from what we know to what we can potentially learn, we’re positioned to explore an abundance of possibilities. There’s ample opportunity for humility in learning – the same is true for ego in knowing, and our pride could be the very thing that keeps us from accessing the well of creativity. Psychologist Carol Dweck said it best: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better?

Grow Your Mind

You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how do I even apply this growth mindset thing?” Well, keep reading and choose any of these small pebbles of inspiration to fill your pitcher and quench your creative thirst, then go ahead and find some more:

  • Take a walk, unplugged: Tap into the energy around you – absorb the sounds of the passing traffic, catch tiny snippets of strangers’ conversations and put them in your pocket for later.

  • Read more: There are so many hidden gems between the pages of books. Summon up your best adventurer’s spirit and go on a treasure hunt.

  • Watch with intention: When you’re ready to plug back in, explore new topics and fall into a rabbit hole or two.

  • Find the others: The power of collaboration raises creativity exponentially. Supercharge your growth by connecting with those who inspire you.

By choosing to not be a know-it-all, the opportunity to know much more becomes accessible. So go, grow, and take a sip from a full cup of creativity.

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