plant_sqCreativity thrives on kindness and self care. According to career and success coach Tama Kieves, that’s one of the biggest things she personally had to learn after ditching her job as a lawyer. She was a Type A, ambitious, and driven linear thinker. When she first left law, she figured she would just pump out a book. She had lots of willpower.

But it took 12 years to write that book. Doing creative work is not about self discipline, harshness, and will power, she discovered. “It’s about generosity, kindness, and self love,” she says. The kinder she was to herself, the more she relaxed. And the more she relaxed, the more creative and alive she got. The most wild amazing ideas came that would never have emerged through a more disciplined, just-get-it-done approach.

Taking a just-make-it-happen approach, where you work mechanistically will produce something that is mechanical. It won’t touch people or make them grateful for who they are, she says.

Being harsh with yourself isn’t going to cultivate your creativity. Self criticism keeps you small and self absorbed, Tama has written. She advises against dragging in old stories of your limitations or focusing on “past failures.” That makes it hard to allow yourself to be original in the moment and wake up to who you are now. She grew up thinking self criticism would get her further along. But in the world of creativity and inspiration, she found the opposite was true. Self criticism just shut the flow. “It shut the door,” she told me.

If you’re really going after a calling and shifting your life, it can be scary and even terrifying, she says. The last thing you want to do is be unkind to yourself while you’re terrified. “You’re freaking out as it is,” Tama says. Plus, you’ve got others who will say things like, “What are you going to do? You can’t live like this for the rest of your life.” We have other people to be unkind to us. “The last thing you need is to be hard on yourself,” she says.

Different destinations

Although Tama Kieves took a radical approach, leaving her job as a lawyer to write her first book, her story isn’t meant to be prescriptive as the only way to go on a personal journey.

Some of her clients build businesses on the side or write books on the side, while holding down a day job. Some cut down their FT work or turn their jobs into contract work, so they have more time for something closer to their real interests.

One client was working on not working so hard at her current job so she could start exploring and playing. Part of being kinder to herself meant she would take care of herself more and reduce her work hours.

One day, her boss called her in. Uh oh. Although she thought she was going to be reprimanded, her boss wanted to give her a bonus. This was at least partially due to her feeling happier and lighter. “She got more recognition as a superstar after she cut back,” says Kieves.

When Tama leads workshops, she spends a lot of time creating a safe space so people can be open and available. It’s the first step in cultivating genius, she says.

But then what? Follow what feels joyful, Tama says. What you focus on grows. When she was writing her first book, This Time I Dance, she didn’t have an agent or a publisher or a contract. But she had an inner faith that the book was good and could help someone. She knew it was a book she wanted to read. So she kept writing. In Part 1 of this two-part series, you can see how what Tama focussed on grew in ways she could not have imagined. What started as one book has grown. She is creating an organization that helps tribes of people worldwide who really want to change their lives and shift careers.

When you really love something and it gives you great joy, you’ll be able to face down all the fears that you normally come across and all the obstacles that you naturally encounter, she says. If you really love or feel connected to something you’re working on, you will be able to do things for it that you might not have done for just yourself, just as a parent might go to great lengths to do something for a child, Tama says. If something gives you joy, you’ll have more energy and a better sense of what you’re here for, she says.

This is Part 2 of a two-part series.

Photo: Bratanova.