flying lessons

Posted on Jun 19, 2010

In every project there comes a moment when you have to be willing to let it go. It is a vulnerable time, like the first time a young bird tries its wings. But it is crucial step in the life of any project, to test its ability to make it in the world.

Last night was such a moment for me, and The Wheel of Creativity.

Last night in Nice, I let my baby bird fly in a room of more than 30 people, who were there to participate in the first WHEEL OF CREATIVITY QuickStart. After more than 10 years’ work developing my concepts—talking to people from all over the world in all walks of life about their experience of creativity, and revealing it in small controlled steps (from a year-long workshop program to a TV pilot)—I had finally reached the point to release it into the hands and hearts of this group. Ready or not, perfect or imperfect, it was time to make the leap.

The view from my window here is a landscape of red tile roofs atop centuries-old villas. Right now, three of these rooftops are nests for families of seagulls nurturing babies to the point where they can fly. On three rooftops, I can see three developmental stages in a baby seagull’s life:  the baby birds who vulnerably await their parent’s return with breakfast; the demanding young birds who can’t yet fish for themselves; and the joyful adolescents who test their wings on brief but ecstatic excursions.

Flying lessons are not easy for seagulls.  Parents perch on distant points and call; babies cry in response, “No, I’m not ready.” Parents try a little something different; still fear in response.  But, eventually, a leap must be made. And therein lies the joy: “Yes, I can!” Perhaps there is a misstep or a fall. Perhaps a crisis of confidence. But there is flight. There is, I have also observed, an optimum moment for the maiden voyage. And if it is not taken, as the bird gets bigger and heavier that voyage becomes more and more difficult.

As a map of the creative journey, The Wheel of Creativity stops in 12 stations from Hunger to Harvest.  Each station is a necessary part of the journey, as it moves us full circle from a sense of longing, through isolation and crisis to breakthrough, and finally to the satisfaction of creating what we longed for at the start. I have experienced these stations myself throughout my life, and I have heard person after person recognize themselves within them

Last night’s QuickStart was an experience, designed not only to explain my concepts and ideas, but also to put the power of the principles into people’s hands. Knowing a process intellectually and taking your place in it are as different as knowing the aerodynamics of flying and jumping off the rooftop. There is a time to sit at your computer analyzing possibilities and perfecting techniques, and there is a time to let it fly and make its best contribution in the world. And there is no way to know if it will fly until you let it go.

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