Creative Change, or, Getting Where You Want to Go

I ride a motorcycle. Before I bought the first one, I took a class on how to ride safely. (I like to take classes if I’m going to do something that’s inherently dangerous). Our class was a motley crew of geezers, younger punks, wealthy touring bike-types and regular people who like to ride.

In these standardized safety classes, you don’t bring a bike, you ride a small

Helmets are expensive, but wear one anyway. Neurosurgery is more expensive.

provided bike. I had the odd feeling that these bikes were confiscated or had been ridden into an accident. Bent fenders, scrapes and odd color combinations attested to hard use. I was on a tiny, banged up model. I felt like a circus bear on a bike.

Class rules demand that everyone wear a helmet, gloves, heavy jeans, a jacket, and boots above the ankle. Did I mention it was August in D.C.? Even at 7 a.m., we thought we were taking lessons in a dog’s mouth. The instructor said, “Now we are going to learn how to go around corners and make sharp turns. How do you think we do that?” Half the class turned the handlebars and fell over. A non-moving bike likes to lie down. That often comes as a surprise to the rider.

The instructor rolled his eyes, and said, “Never turn the *&$%&^@ handlebars to go around a corner! You LOOK where you want to go. The bike will follow. Always. Look. Where. You. Want. To. Go.”

He was right, of course. When we look ahead to where we want to go, our body automatically makes small adjustments to get us there. On a bike, you lean into the curve, and your hand and arm closest to the turn automatically pushes the handlebars down on that side, guiding the bike through the curve.

Creativity works the same way. We make tiny decisions that take us where we look. We press down, our thoughts go where we look. That’s why it’s important to look ahead where you want to go creatively. Because looking at failure is as easy as looking at success. But a very different trip.

Where are you going?

-Quinn McDonald rides a motorcycle. She’s also a creativity coach. Those two facts are more closely related than is obvious.