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How Expanding What We Believe Is Possible Will Evolve Our Creativity [Need To Know]

Keith Yamashita explains why we often get 'stuck' when we're creating something- and how to get break free from it.

Allie Walker
Allie Walker on May 5, 2012. @NYC_Allie

Originally published in PSFK’s Need To Know Magazine Volume 1.

When was asked Keith Yamashita, founder of SYPartners and co-founder of Unstuck, to chat with us for our Need To Know Magazine, he explained to PSFK how to get ‘unstuck’ when you’re embroiled in a creative mire:

One thing I have studied, one thing I have consulted on, one thing I have experienced as a practitioner is the maddening stillness of being stuck. It creeps into the process, often taking you by surprise. A normal project is suddenly stranded in a shroud of ambiguity.

A worthy ambition is sidetracked by a saunter into tangential tasks. Fear stabs the beating heart of imagination.

This is creation. And it can be a lonely existence, especially if you’re truly trying to attempt something significant or radical.

So what separates those who are able to move past these moments from those who can’t?

We all know that progress on these types of creative endeavors requires perpetual forward motion. In a word: action. It turns out, however, that action is highly dependent on how you think. The brain is a wonderfully tricky organ, and its thoughts either expand our capacity for taking action—or constrict it. What we permit ourselves to think about greatly affects what we’re willing to act on. So when you find yourself in one of these moments, you have to open up your thinking.

So how is that done?

You must first realize that what we believe shapes what we permit ourselves to think about. Simple case in point: If you do not believe man can run a four-minute mile, you do not permit yourself to think about it as a possibility. Belief shapes possibility. And the converse is true: Once you believe it, possibility opens up. After Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, on May 6th, 1954—a feat no one to that date thought possible—sixteen runners in the next year ran a mile in under four minutes.

What is your equivalent limiting belief? What are you harboring as an impossibility, that in reality, is achievable? You need to reshape that belief.

So how is that done?

We are starting to learn in our firm, by direct observation of our own habits and those of our clients, that belief is shaped predominantly by what you permit yourself to see. Most normal people severely cut themselves off from truly seeing the world around them. They look, but they rarely see.

Depending on the lens you pick, you see very different things. Go through your world today, and see ‘human connection.’ You’ll see a world filled with many new possibilities. Look through the lens of ‘flow,’ and you’ll see an interconnectedness of actions you missed before. Or try seeing time. Or seeing symbols that matter to people. Or try seeing waste—and all the opportunities to eliminate that which is wasteful.

The point being, that when you are trying to create something anew, and you hit a moment of being stuck, get out and see anew. This kickstarts the cycle of seeing, believing, thinking, and acting. And that propels you forward.

sypartners.com / unstuck.com / @keithyamashita

Originally published in PSFK’s Need To Know Magazine. Click the banner below to purchase the print version.

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