7 Creative Values: Define Yours With An Action Manifesto

I created my defined list of creative values for myself and for this site and podcast. I was heavily inspired by the manifestos of Gretchen Rubin – author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies. Gretchen writes more about how she developed her own Twelve Commandments.

What does the phrase “Uncanny Creativity” mean? Since I believe in productivity and action, I chose to make each of my values a key active verb. Gretchen suggests short phrases that you can check and remember: “I’ve found that my commandments help me most when I review them at least daily, to keep them fresh in my mind, and to do this, it helps to keep the list short and snappy.”

When I was a kid and even still at times as an adult, I would freeze with an anxiety response called “Selective Mutism”. I’d just become silent and mute for long periods. And then suddenly – situationally – free. One incident that comes to mind: visiting my cousin’s neighborhood pool. At the entrance, the person at the front desk took each of our names for their records. When asked my name I said nothing. My mind was blank. I couldn’t remember my name. So I couldn’t say it out loud as much as I wanted to. That any of us have any ability to communicate with each other at all feels like a miraculous concept. I attempt not to take communication for granted. Uncanny Creativity for me means making attempts at shameless self-expression.

Of the manifestos I’ve wanted to write to simplify and solidify my core values, Creativity became the biggest challenge. I’ve shared many books, experiments, and studies on creativity on this blog and podcast, Uncanny Creativity. Writing helped me find these core themes:

Seven Creative Core Values: Defining Uncanny Creativity

Go. Take action.*

Be bold and decisive about trying actions that might work.

Listen for your voice.

Looking is more worthwhile than finding.

Collect thoughts and ideas.

Save freely your own thoughts and those of others.

Know Like a Kid.

Kids know they don’t know it all. They play courageously anyway. Find a child-like sense of modest participation.

Think Big, Medium, Small.

Chase the big picture, the little details, and the levels in-between.

Find Fun.

Enjoy the weird. Humor yourself in the present moment.

Use Your Powers For Good.

Take your turn to help. Everything will be okay. No one has it all figured out.

Productivity Manifesto: Go. Take Action.

  1. Make any choice. Find the action in now
  2. Challenge yourself. Be inspired, not compared.
  3. Begin a little. Take steps. Find out. Start very small.
  4. Make it a game. Reframe.
  5. Spill milk. Clean up, learn, move on.
  6. Good enough is enough. Be average.
  7. Put eggs in many baskets. Something will work.

Happiness Manifesto: Find Fun.

  1. If all else fails, let go a little. Or a lot. Don’t sweat small stuff (It’s all small stuff)
  2. Different people like different things.
  3. Effort over outcomes. Show up.
  4. Events involve pieces beyond us.
  5. Win-win or it’s okay to walk away! 
  6. Notice what right. Say good things out loud.
  7. Mistakes are neutral at worst, helpful at best. Decisions go forward, not backward.

Kindness Manifesto: Use Your Powers For Good

  1. Act generously in spirit. No one has it all figured out.
  2. “Nice” is different from good. We’re born good. (Babies act very rude tho!)
  3. Soft heart + Hard Limits. Kindness isn’t a weakness. Know its strength.
  4. Act thoughtfully. Consider others and yourself.
  5. Respect the human experience. Value all beings and yourself for what they are.
  6. Embrace benevolent honesty. Neither insincerity or cruel truth help as often than you might think.
  7. Decide with courage. Character inspires confidence in each other.
  8. Connect. We learn more from each other when we feel safe.
  9. Display your values. Especially when it’s inconvenient.
  10. Make mistakes. Feelings and situations can’t be perfect. Fail with admiration of your abilities
  11. Show appreciation. Show that you notice and care.
  12. Find playfulness in internal integrity. External reputation is less fun without it.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

52 Podcasts That Inspire My Creativity & Productivity

Podcasts I listen to:

  1. Feeling Good – Psychiatrist and Author David Burns discusses mood improvement tips and exercises.
  2. Happier with Gretchen Rubin – Gretchen (author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies) and her sister Elizabeth Craft (TV writer) discuss habits
  3. Happier in Hollywood – Liz Craft and Sarah Fain discuss the struggles as TV writers in the male-dominated entertainment industry.
  4. Awesome Etiquette – The great-grandchildren of etiquette author Emily Post discuss modern manners in the digital age based on the tenants of consideration, respect, and honest.
  5. Getting Things Done – Productivity tips from author and consultant David Allen.
  6. TED Radio Hour – TED Talks adapted for audio
  7. The James Altucher Show
  8. The Upgrade by Lifehacker
  9. Slate’s Dear Prudence – Life advice from columnist Mallory Ortberg
  10. Windows Weekly – I’m both a Mac and Windows user. Power tips for power users of Microsoft’s operating syste
  11. Pop Culture Happy Hour
  12. InDesign Secrets
  13. By The Book – Jolenta Greenberg and her  friend Kristen Meinzer live by the practices of a self-help book each episode to find out which ones might work
  14. Hidden Brain
  15. HBR IdeaCast – Business and management ideas from Harvard Business Review.
  16. PBS NewsHour – Rated as one of the more objective sources of news coverage.
  17. Hello From the Magic Tavern – A man falls through a dimensional portal behind a Burger King into a magic land filled with wizards, magical monsters, and adventurers. Starring Chicago Improvisers.
  18. That’s How I Remember It – Actors flawlessly recreate perfectly exactly movies they’ve seen and haven’t seen from memory on the spot.
  19. A Way with Words – A call-in show about the English language linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, word games, grammar, regional dialects and word history.
  20. The Marie Forleo Podcast
  21. Radical Candor – Workplace advice
  22. I Hate My Boss – Workplace advice
  23. The Dinner Party Download
  24. If I Were You
  25. Dear Sugars
  26. Get-Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More
  27. The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health
  28. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  29. The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous
  30. Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life
  31. Planet Money
  32. Freakonomics
  33. Recode Decode with Kara Swisher
  34. Recode Media with Peter Kafka
  35. Katie Couric
  36. Judge John Hodgman
  37. Anna Faris Is Unqualified
  38. The Backline – An Improv Podcast
  39. This Week in Google
  40. All About Android
  41. The Accidental Creative
  42. Side Hustle School
  43. The Mortified Podcast
  44. Schmanners
  45. Myths and Legends
  46. Hannah and Matt Know It All
  47. Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane
  48. improv4humans with Matt Besser
  49. The American Life
  50. Design Matters with Debbie Millman
  51. Marvel Cinematic Universe – Covering Marvel Comics films.
  52. FiveThirtyEight – Politics through the eyes of statistics and probability

Also check out my podcast Uncanny Creativity. What are your favorite podcasts? Any I missed that need to be included?

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Quotes to help you have more fun

A few quotes that help me have more fun:

When overgeneralizing, be curious about what’s new and different:
“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” Alexandre Dumas fils

When it’s all or nothing, explore the what’s in between:
“We must stand firm between two kinds of madness: the belief that we can do anything; and the belief that we can do nothing.” Alain

When magnifying the bad and minimizing the good:
“Disappointment is really just a term for our refusal to look on the bright side.” Richelle E. Goodrich

Jumping to conclusions and imagining the other’s thoughts and possible terrible futures, be present:
“Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren’t there.” Epictetus

When emotional reasoning, look for truth:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Christopher Hitchens / Hitchens’s razor. (Latin proverb “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur”, “What is freely asserted is freely dismissed.”)

When “should” clouds your expectations, stop resisting:
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

When labels feel true:
“People are too complicated to have simple labels.” Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

When blame, comparison and guilt cloud your senses:
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Graphic Designers, here’s how make your client relationships better

“In a book about an octopus, Tomi Ungerer purposefully gave the octopus seven tentacles. He said so many kids would have the pleasure of calling it to his and our attention” Ursula Nordstrom

When clients call or email with an edit, I like to react with almost too extreme gratitude. Usually, they’re ready to justify or perhaps thinking I’ll be defensive. It’s more practical to encourage them to please freely give details so I can do my work.

Connect. We learn more from each other when we feel safe:

  1. Rather than suffer, accept vulnerability as a reminder to solve one’s own problems and develop self-reflective awareness
  2. Rather than lash out, accept the priority of casual clarification and direct assertiveness without blame, criticism, or accusation.
  3. Rather than play hero, accept the skill of showing concern without fixing. Encourage others to develop and practice their own life tools.

Listen to more about Ursula Nordstrom on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast: A Little Happier: Sometimes, Flawed Can Be More Perfect Than Perfection.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Do work you love and stop doing what you hate

Once upon a time, I once started a job as a graphic designer.

A brief introduction to design work. All my jobs have been in design. You just put some colors, text, and shapes down in a way that looks nice. Your day gets filled with Color Purple Moments.*

There’s often other business and administrative tasks. File paperwork, mark time, organize digital files. Most of which I enjoy to varying degrees as a break. This department was perhaps a dozen or more office workers at various levels.

Until one day – only a few months into the position – my manager calls me in. Maybe I’m in trouble. Instead, I’m promoted. It’s retroactive. The next check adjusts my pay as if I was paid that way for the last month.

(Sounds great on paper, except that I made very little. So small that I just now had to double check to make sure I was above the Federal Poverty Guidelines.)

Here’s the thing. I reacted with confusion.

The manager explains that I had been doing the new job already. First, I handled all of my own work. Then did work for the vacant position that I filled.

From my point of view, I thought everyone in the department did that. Split the overload, right.

Plus, I was bored!

I’m data driven. Obviously so are they as they had time records and accuracy (never my strong suit).

Cool news right! There was and still is a part of me that’s like “Why work so hard???”

The truth is, most of the time the concept of “hard work” doesn’t often cross my mind. Thinking about difficulty feels unhelpful, impractical, and stressful. [Cue “Stop for A Minute” by Keane]

I really try to veer toward answering questions like “Is it possible to do it?” “What would it take to do it?” Focus on the steps, tools, and behaviors involved.

I’m sure I read this in many productivity books when as a young adult. I tried it. I noticed I felt less stressed.

(The 2012 paper “When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit” by Fischbach and Choi tested this concept. This story takes place before then.)

The early pre-smartphone internet leaned more geeky. So the productivity boom was afoot.

Flash forward a few years, another job as a graphic designer.

Once again, I’m called in to discuss with my manager. Let’s make more duties official. This time it was not really design oriented work without any immediate incentives – salary, flexibility, and perhaps if there was a new title it would be more out of my intended field. So I was less enthusiastic.

From my point of view – once again – I thought everyone helped do this work! They asked us to split the overload.

I learned a valuable lesson and acted on it. If you can get away with just doing more, you can get away with doing less. That’s exactly what I did.

All of this new administrator work – I didn’t want to it and so I didn’t. And it all just went away.

Someone else in another office somewhere did it I guess. Or they decided no one needed to maybe. I don’t remember because I stopped being involved.

That part of me that asks “Why work so hard?” That’s super annoying when you have goals you care about. Useful when you have anti-goals that you want to stop caring about.

Nowadays, still bored.

 

  • “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.