Motivational Mondays: Be Curious

Creativity is thinking outside of the box, it’s turning the box upside down or it’s doing away with the box altogether. Without curiosity our creative thinking skills remain stuck in a box.

Looking up when everyone is else is looking down is what creative thinkers do

Looking up when everyone is else is looking down is what creative thinkers do

Some people think only artistic people are creative but I believe that if you can form a question then you have the ability to think creatively. Creativity is curiosity, wanting to find out more, asking why or why not. It’s taking nothing for granted, it’s disrupting the norm and questioning what is ‘right’. Creative thinkers want to know why, how, where, when; they dig deep. The world is a fathomless dimension of exploration and discovery and each of us has but a short time to make the most of what we’ve been given.

As a filmmaker creating characters I have to continually interrogate their very existence, their purpose, their motives, their behaviors, their thoughts, speech and interactions with others. But you can only go so far before you inevitably get stuck or get to the point where you think you’ve nailed your characters and story. At that point you need to ask for the opinions and comments of others. Are you on the right track or have you backed an articulated lorry onto an airport runway? You need other people to give you the third degree in the same way that you have done to your characters. If they are really creative they’ll get you doing mental backflips, cartwheels and the tango all at once in the hope of getting you out of any place of self-satisfaction and complacency that you may find yourself.

On the RISE scheme (Northern Film & Media are working in partnership with Women in Film and Television and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art to nurture and develop six emerging female filmmakers over the course of a year) this is exactly the opportunity we have been given. To have our creativity challenged by industry professionals, and contorted into positions we would never have dreamed possible when we first started writing. You start with, ‘here are the characters and this is what happens to them’. Then you get (thankfully) script editor Kate Leys & film director Josh Appignanesi making you think more deeply –  why do they want that, why should we care enough to watch them, do you need that person at all, can’t you see it through someone else’s eyes, what if you got rid of everything you have written up to the midpoint and started the film there, are they the right gender? Etc etc. This is mind acrobatics in free fall.

It’s enough to make your head spin and your brain melt but give it 24 hours and those creative impulses start firing new sparks and making new connections. They have been disrupted enough to see new improved directions for your script to go. So you push your ideas to another level, keeping at it every day, reworking and reworking and reworking. Until eventually you get to someone like film distributor Julia Short who reads your treatment and goes ‘yes I get the story, get the relationships, get the underlying themes, get the journey and the transformation and yes be that ambitious, yes think on that cinematic scale, yes go for that casting and that budget, don’t hold back, ramp it up, why not go the whole hog.’ And your creative juices fire up several notches and off you go again.

Shift things about to create something new.

Shift things about to create something new.
“Melt” Wax Installation by Ruby May London

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.“ Jodi Picault

It takes 10,000 hours to master anything and unless we are challenged, questioned, prodded and cajoled we may be tempted to stop at 100 hours. We might think that’s all we need to do. We need those mentors and coaches and influencers and interrogators and investigators to help us get the best out of ourselves and our work. It’s not easy but it’s worth it to not end up with the half hearted, slapdash or dull.

Architect Frank Lloyd-Wright was self-taught. He didn’t know that buildings at that time ‘had’ to be rectangular so he created the oval, arcs and circles of the Guggenheim Museum New York. Steve Jobs bunked out of University, did a short course in calligraphy and created Apple. He didn’t know that you ‘have’ to go to, and stick at, University to get a good job or build a business. The art of Not Knowing is like always having a beginner’s mind, a mind hungry and curious.

Let go and see where your creative thinking takes you

Let go and see where your creative thinking takes you

Creativity is problem-solving without rules, it’s the spirit of curiosity in the face of the mundane, logical and routine, it’s the picking apart of the safe or commercial or obvious or trite, it’s throwing things up in the air and seeing where they land. Be fearless in your day and question everything and everyone. That’s how humans got to fly, it’s how we transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. The only people who aren’t creative are the ones unwilling to try.

Are you in the business of doing things normally and getting predictable results but actually really, you want to rock your world? Then get yourself a Creative Thinking Coach and transform your life or work into something you’ll want to tell your grandkids about. Email me HERE to find out more and lets get started!

For daily uplifts and inspirational photo-quotes follow me on Twitter: @createlab Instagram: create_lab or Facebook: Lou Hamilton

We all have the ability to think creatively at our core

We all have the ability to think creatively at our core

Motivational Mondays: No one is an Island

Humans thrive on sociability, on connecting and communicating. I live on an Island and I’m self-employed so I could be in danger of living in not so splendid isolation, except that I love people and I strive to keep my connections alive.

Connection to even one other creates our imprint

Connection
to even one other creates
our imprint

One evening we were rowing around the Island and a new neighbour spotted us drifting past the end of her garden. She hailed us over, brought us up onto her decking and welcomed us to her little corner of the world. People need each other and it takes little to reach out and connect.

Planes and social media keep us connected across the globe. When filming in the Gambia for a children’s charity we met an amazing woman Ali Criado-Perez who works for Medecins Sans Frontieres. We kept in touch and when she posted Blogs from Africa during the Ebola crisis our connection to the plight of people on another continent was deepened, our understanding of their tragedy kept all the more alive. Everyday I connect with new people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or monthly at Fabulous Women Networking events. and relish the inspiring anecdotes, stories and quotes shared.

Threads join person to person across continents

Threads
join person to person
across continents

Friendship and connection are as vital as the air we breathe, so much so that Social Skills Therapy is offered to those suffering from the isolation of mental health issues. When we filmed soldiers for our feature documentary A Brutal Peace, we discovered a critical part of their post-war survival is to meet regularly through the charity Combat Stress to help each other roll with the punches of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Without the camaraderie of shared stories over a pint by the bonfire, these men would fade into the recesses of unbearable memories and suffering.

In It’s a Wonderful Life Clarence says “no man is a failure, who has friends”

We also need to be able to be alone without feeling lonely, and the ability to do this comes from knowing that somewhere, out there, there are people who we care about, who care about us. And so when I sit on my Island in London I feel the invisible threads reaching outwards to all those thousands of people I have ever met in person or online and I celebrate whatever methods of communication that allow me to do that.

Feeling disconnected? Why not connect with me for a short course of life coaching sessions and together we can find a way forward. Or follow me on twitter @createlab or Instagram create_lab

If you’d like to spend a short break on our Island you can find details on how to book on www.distancetravelled.com

Alone but not lonely with invisible touch

Alone
but not lonely with
invisible touch

Motivational Mondays: Retreat to Reboot

Hustle and bustle, stress on hyper-drive, modern life is like speeding down the fast lane with no brakes. Early starts, no lunch breaks, working late, always online, in touch, on call. We no longer seem to have a switch off button or a do not disturb sign.

Slowing down

Slowing down

Whirring brains need downtime or they burn out, as so many people will testify, when they lie on someone’s couch recounting the collapse of their life. They find themselves in a cul de sac, a dead end that no amount of self-flagellation to battle on, can save them from. Our bodies have a tendency to tell us when it’s time to stop, although we sometimes we wish they’d brought up the subject earlier.

IMG_6361_2

So, applying the brakes before we pitch off the edge of the cliff clearly seems to be a sensible idea. So what are the options? I experienced a yogic retreat by accident once. I was filming in India and one of our missions was to film in a Yogic Ashram. After 24 hours of travel via trains and a jeep across the most dangerous State in India, we arrived at a set of huge iron gates. They swung open and we entered an oasis of gardens, tropical plants and dreamy looking swami wafting about in bare feet and white robes.

We were greeted warmly but told we wouldn’t be allowed to film after all. We were stumped. We’d filled in the prerequisite forms in Delhi, been granted the correct permissions, and now we were being told it was not possible. No explanation, just no. It was too late to catch a train to Calcutta so we were invited to stay the night which comprised of a wooden bunk, a toilet filled with mosquitoes the size of wasps, a dish of Dahl and no cutlery, a two hour chanting & meditation session and lights out at 8pm. Our companions were yogis, swamis and people who had paid to come here on a retreat to rid themselves of the impurities of modern life and the overstuffed baggage in their minds. It was not a choice I would have readily made.

The next morning we were told we could have an audience with the Chief Swami, to put forward our case to film. It was set for 3pm that afternoon so we had a few hours to kill before we could present ourselves. We wandered round the gardens, sat in the shade of trees, read books and very slowly we started to unwind. There was a sense of a weight lifting, our brains emptying, of peace and tranquility descending. After the razzmatazz of filming and travelling in India this sensation of letting go was gratifying.

Retreat restores

Retreat restores

By the time it was 3 o’clock, along with a trail of villagers bearing gifts, I approached the Chief Swami in a calm and accepting state of mind, on required bended knee and with kissing of his feet. He listened to our reasons for wanting to film there, shook his head and said “God would like you to come back and visit us and then he will allow filming.” Maybe my newly assumed yogic demeanor and aura of calm acceptance wasn’t completely convincing because when he looked at my face he quickly did an about turn “but there are exceptions to every decision and in this case God has changed his mind and has now decided to grant you permission.” We had ten minutes to film a yogi performing his postures by the Ganges as the sun started to set. As we raced to catch the last train and headed back to the chaos of Calcutta, despite the hiccups, I realized that I did feel reinvigorated, as if my brain had had the chance to reboot itself, ready to start again.

Assuming yogic calm

Assuming yogic calm

That’s a fairly extreme way to dip out of the hurry and rush of life but there are easier routes to restoration and respite. I am writing this from an idyllic little holiday cottage in Buckerfields Barn in Wiltshire, set in the picturesque gardens of Sonia Wright’s Plant Nursery. Just an hour and half from London and two nights away and I can already feel a sense of rest and renewal, ready to get back to work on Monday morning.

Change is good as good as a rest so why not find ways to give yourself a break.

  1. Take ten minutes, sit upright in a chair and close your eyes, breathing deeply and slowly. It’s amazing what even ten minutes out of your day will do to calm your mind and restore your spirits
  2. Find a local park and take a book to read in your lunch hour
  3. If you live in the town, head out to the country and if you live in the country head into town, even for a day trip or a night or two.
  4. Let out a room via airbnb or your whole place as occasional holiday/weekend lets, to help fund your own restful excursions. You can do this via One Fine Stay, Holiday Lettings or small boutique agencies like Distance Travelled.
  5. Head off to India to a yogic retreat if you are brave enough!

Feeling an oncoming burn out? Why not have a trial 30 minute consultation with Lou Hamilton to see if a course of life coaching sessions might be just what you need to find ways to improve your life.

Follow my uplifting daily tweets on @createlab or on Instagram create_lab

To find out more about why we had to film the yogi watch the trailer to our film Call of the Maestros or the full documentary here:

Stan the Man- Scoring Success

I spent Sunday morning in bed with Stanley Matthews and his autobiography The Way It Was. If ever there was a pioneer for positive mental attitude it was he. What a man. Stan the Man. Beloved Wizard of Dribble who saw his failings as stepping stones to success, a man who started with nothing but a rubber ball and a will to win and became famed for his performance for Blackpool in their FA Cup Final win in 1953.

victory in success

My partner is shooting a feature documentary about Stanley Matthews and I was intrigued by how much he had captured the hearts of generations. There have been other brilliant football players but arguably none so well loved. What was it about him that made him so successful and so popular? He was certainly single minded, his goal to win as part of his DNA as his studs were to his boots. But he was also generous spirited, understood the importance of teamwork, celebrated the successes of his fellow players and appreciated and learned from those on the opposition who aced him.

He was a respectful, courteous, modest, hard working and optimistic man who protected his family from the limelight. He loved football with a passion and saw it as a microcosm of life itself, reflecting on and sharing how to get the most out of it and the lessons to be learned from it. Eventually he was to tour the world spreading the ‘gospel of football’ as he called it.

His love affair with the game started as a lad but from early on his dad drummed into him to ‘expect  nowt’ and never be disappointed. His dad wasn’t given to outward displays of affection but his few words were wise and put the young Stanley in good stead. He taught him to keep humility in the face of aplomb and applause but to be confident in his ability through hard work and the right mental attitude.

Bend with the blows and bounce back

Bend with the blows and bounce back

He studied the game, he read every football book going, he pioneered good nutrition before science and sports were ever linked and he developed and practised his techniques every day until it was dark. He made it hard for himself, muddied the ground, put weights in his boots, and he raised his own stakes, tricking his brain and his body to think and act quicker, instinctively, intuitively. The tougher he made it for himself the better he got. With no guarantees, as in life, that it would get him where he wanted to be.

When he fudged his second International game as a relative newbie against Germany in 1935 he could have sunk under a barrage of self-criticism that made the surrounding press coverage look kind. “He did nowt against Italy and he did nowt tonight. He’s not good enough, simple as that.” But his dad took him aside and told him, that game’s done, no sense dwelling on it other than to learn from his mistakes and focus on the games to come.

Stanley took his dad’s words to heart and in his next match at Stoke he stormed it. He spotted his dad in the crowd and raised his fist to his head. A silent message of understanding that it was his strong mental attitude that won the day. It was that spirit of hard work and positivity that kept him on his toes throughout his career. It stayed with him to his retirement at 50 and beyond into his global mission and campaigning work to use football to help get kids off the streets and into lives that contained hope. He taught them to know what hope is made of.

None of us knows what is in store for us but hope is having a dream, making it our goal and training and preparing to make it happen. Who knows what the week will bring, but we can prepare for success with hard work and positive mental attitude. We can lay the ground work so when opportunity comes knocking we are pumped and ready, at the top of our game to grasp it with every sinew, pore, bone, nerve and muscle.

5 Top Tips to scoring success

  1. Know your goal. Picture it as clearly as if it’s real in front of you.
  1. Work out what actions you need to take
  1. Do something every day that will take you nearer to achieving your goal
  1. Embrace the things that trip you up. Understand how you can learn from them and use the challenges to make you better at what you do
  1. Practise patience but be prepared to act fast when the opportunity arises. Trust your gut instinct and go for it!

Queen of Dreams

When we’re trudging to work on a Monday morning in drizzle, traffic or overcrowded tube it’s hard not to see the freedom of the weekend slipping away into the fug of oncoming doom and overladen desktop.

Dream Big

Dream Big

Dreams are for the mildly insane we think, or at the very least best kept to the hours of midnight to 6am before reality kicks in with the jangling of the alarm clock. Who has time to fritter away idle precious seconds dreaming of wild adventures, best selling novels, Oscar winning performances, incomes sailing way above outgoings, picking up a Nobel peace prize, winning the Derby with your own steed, building a space rocket to take passengers into space.

Dare to walk on the wild side

Dare to walk on the wild side

We tell ourselves, as we neck back that treble strength expresso and launch into the Monday mayhem of demands, deadlines and office squabbles, such thinking is for the likes of Richard Branson and JK Rowling. The rest of us mere mortals have mortgages to pay, kids to feed and bosses to obey. Our wages barely get us through the month as it is so why would we take any further risk and go it alone into the mine field existence of entrepreneurial endeavour or running off to join a circus?

What new beginnings can you create?

What new beginnings can you create?

However, if you listen to JK Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech you’ll hear the words of a woman who had nothing but the dress on her back and a bunch of dreams that she had the courage to weave into the wild and wonderful adventures of Harry Potter. The rest wasn’t quite history. She tells us her path was paved with failure upon failure and she got used to picking up the pieces of shattered hopes until with perseverance and determination she cracked the code and her dreams took flight.

Her message to embrace failure spoken to young academics unused to failure is on one level amusing- these people will undoubtedly continue to sail the winds of sweet success, marry beautiful people, own big houses and cars and collect a substantial golden package on retirement. But what if they harbour secret dreams that don’t fit with their specified career trajectory, what if they really want to be a stand-up comic or invent the natural organic alternative to Botox or save children in Syria? Well then JK Rowling’s words will awaken the giant within because they will be faced with a choice, relative security of the known or the roller coaster ride of pursuing the dream.

We all dream, we all have choices but will we choose to do what ever it takes to manifest those dreams or will we stuff our dreams away until our knees crumble under the weight of a lifetime tied to a desk we wish we hadn’t chosen?

Avoid regrets in old age by making your dreams happen while you can

Avoid regrets in old age by making your dreams happen while you can

As a coach I help people find their big dream or manifest the dreams they already have. It’s about building confidence, fighting off fears, risk taking, and thinking outside the box.
I am helping my son, still at University, to build his new business SelvageLondon. His dream is to make people feel good through affordable bespoke perfectly fitting jeans. My daughter still in the middle of A Levels has just bought her own domain name RubyMayLondon and I am helping her develop a vlogging business in which she intends to encourage people to use safe homemade organic natural cosmetics (i.e. non-toxic).

I am happy that my kids have big dreams, are willing to take risks, collect their failures along the way and manage their own destinies. Running your own business is not for everybody of course but dreams come in all shapes and sizes and when you find one that niggles away at you, keeps you awake at night, gives you goose bumps and shivers of excitement when you allow yourself to think about it, please consider the option of diving in and making it happen. Life is too short not to.

If you need help making your dreams come true why not do a six or nine session (10th session free) coaching course with me and I’ll help you develop the right mindset to achieve the life you really want.

Believe you can make your dreams come true

Believe you can make your dreams come true

5 Top Tips to Making Dreams Come True

1. Write your dreams down

2. Give yourself a time-frame

3. Break the Dream into small manageable steps

4. Get a dream buddy or coach to keep you accountable

5. Find areas in your life where your dream is already showing up. This might be in a different way to what you imagine. Look hard- I have a belief that often what we search for elsewhere is actually happening in some way right beneath our noses. In this way act AS IF your big dream is already happening.