“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein
The other day I was going through some art papers, notes about classes, ideas on sticky notes and quotes. I came across a folded up little piece of paper that had this quote from Albert Einstein. It really spoke to me and I found it to be the perfect inspiration for my second post in the “Creativity Series.”
Some of the lessons that we need to learn about being creative are not learned through doing an activity or by reading a book. They are learned by changing our perspective. In this case the perspective we are changing is allowing others to hurt us or judge us with their opinions and harsh words.
Just like the fish in Albert Einstein’s quote, we are not going to be good at everything we attempt to do. A great pastry chef may not be able to grill the perfect steak. And then again maybe they can grill a perfect steak but are unable to speak in front of a crowd of people. What is being said in this quote is not to allow yourself to be judged by the things that you have trouble doing. The chef is still an amazing chef even if they can’t do public presentations. If the chef is content with their life, does it matter what others think?
Enough time and practice can help anyone to gain a basic understanding and minimal skill set in any area. For example, I took an accounting class in college. For me, it was a tough class. I did fine, I got a C. I am perfectly capable to do basic book keeping for my art as a business. But I will not be remembered for my interest accruing skills on a spread sheet and I am more than okay with that.
Take a moment and think of how you have been compared by others or yourself in doing something that you are not proficient at. How did it feel? Did it hinder your ability to try to do the task in the future? Did it alter how you felt about yourself?
I have shared this story in the past, but it fits so well with the Albert Einstein quote that I have to share it again. I had a student who was in her seventies when she took my creativity class. She shared a story about one of her creative blocks. She had always been very tall for her age. In her school choir classes she would stand in the back row and sing with her whole heart. When she was 12 or 13 a teacher told her that she shouldn’t sing. That she should just mouth the words instead. My student was devastated. She never sang out loud again. The words of one person had the power to quite literally silence a voice.
My student shared that she still wished to sing. We talked about the fact that the teacher who said that had become her internal critic when it came to making a joyful noise. We talked about ways to silence this critic. We talked about ways that she could sing and feel comfortable. Her church choir was recruiting “new songbirds.” She auditioned and was accepted. She was finally singing again. After sixty years of thinking that she couldn’t sing, she had auditioned and was accepted in a choir.
I leave you with these final thoughts. You are a genius! You are a creative, imaginative, amazing human being. Believe these words. Believe in yourself.