Creators don’t just create the thing


One of my favorite things to listen to are interviews with “creators” – authors, artists, entrepreneurs. People who have imagined, dreamed and worked hard to bring something into the world that didn’t exist before.

I’m inspired by their stories of vision and persistence. By their dedication and their flexibility. By their process and their pivots. By their creativity and work ethic.

But more than anything, what I love hearing when I listen to these stories is the transformation that occurred. Not in the book, or in the painting or in the business. But in the creator.

The creator is transformed by the creation

I was recently listening to Elizabeth Gilbert describe the process of writing her new book, Big Magic, and she said something that made me hit the pause button and write down the words, “while I was creating the book, it was creating me.”

She was learning, growing, changing, as she wrote her book. And that made me stop and think.

How often do we create something –  something small, something large – and don’t stop to think of the ways that it has also changed us in some way?

When we create, we change

As I type those words, I think maybe that’s an overstatement. Maybe we don’t actually change every time we create a meal or a document or a small project.

But maybe some of our creations really do transform us. Help us become better, wiser versions of ourselves.

If you’ve ever parented children.

If you’ve ever built a business.

If you’ve ever written something of length.

If you’ve ever created art.

If you’ve ever struggled and toiled and twisted and regrouped and restruggled and finally came up with something.

Something that helped. Something that inspired. Something that addressed a need. Something that solved a problem.

Then you know. You know that the very thing that you were creating, was actually creating you.

What it feels like

Liz Gilbert’s words came back to me this week, as a I wrapped up an incredible day that I had been dreaming about for 6 months. It was the culmination of days, weeks, months of effort. Building a CEO group was not a simple, quick or inexpensive undertaking, and as I took in the sight of a room full of exceptional business leaders who all came together to learn, grow and help each other, I couldn’t help but think, “yes, I created this.. but oh man, did it also create me.”

As I reflected on the 6 month roller coster ride, with huge ups and huge downs, I realized that the experience had changed me.

I’m now more confident when I need to be, but also more humble and grateful. I’m more comfortable with big loud voices, but also more protective of small quiet voices. I’m more open to being vulnerable and willing to share, but also more boundaried about when and with whom I’ll share. I’m wiser, more impactful, more loving, stronger and softer, as a result of the work of creating this group.

And it just so happens that those are the very qualities I want to help others develop. What a gift – that the very thing I was creating, was also creating me.

Your turn

Think back to something you created. A business. A family. A project. A quest.

Take a minute (or more) to really appreciate how it changed you. How the thing you created actually created you. And maybe share the story with someone. Grab a friend, go for a walk, or a coffee, and tell the story.

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