There are a lot of you unhappy lawyers who long, secretly maybe, to do something creative or artistic. But you’re not doing it, because you know you don’t have any talent. (OK, I don’t think you lack talent, but you believe it to your depths.)

man removing duct tape from mouth
It's time to remove an old teacher's duct tape from your creativity, and claim it.

And I’ll bet that part of that bedrock belief stems from some thing or things that were said to you at school. Our schools remain institutions of conformity, not creativity. Conformity is death to creativity and art. That isn’t to say that schools aren’t filled with very well-meaning, inspiring teachers, because they are.

My son has the privilege of being taught by one of these great teachers, Mr. B, the school music teacher. He strives to make his classes positive and enjoyable for every child, regardless of talent. He knows too many people, including friends of his, who were told not to sing, or mocked for a mistake in a performance, at a young age. And it’s turned what likely could have been good musicians into non-believers in themselves.

Creativity Is Your Birthright

Bet you don’t believe me, that these discouraged kids could have been something. We have this cultural myth that if you have musical talent, it shows up in prodigy ways by age 3. Never mind that throughout human history, song, music and dance have been part of tribal and community life. There weren’t auditions for the campfire singalong, people. Sure, there have always been those with extra helpings of musical talent, who yes should be singing opera or playing 1st violin or fill-in-your-equivalent of musical greatness. But no one must possess prodigious talent to partake of the basic human birthright of creativity, and of making music.

And here’s how teachers can and do influence whether we believe in ourselves as creative beings. Mr. B told me about a 3rd-grader he taught a few years ago. This student was, Mr. B says, the worst singer in the 3rd grade. But Mr. B did not tell him he was the worst, or that he should stop singing. Instead, he encouraged him to keep on. The kid was really trying, and certainly seemed interested. So for the 2 years before 3rd grade, Mr. B tried a lot to help this kid sing better.

During one class, Mr. B asked this student sing with a partner. Suddenly, the kid seemed to hear how he was not matching his partner. “He went from being the worst singer in 3rd grade to the best, in about 10 seconds.”

Letting It Emerge

Holy wow. It’s a testimony to patience, belief and faith. And to the powerful things that happen when we allow ourselves to be less than perfect at something for a damned long time.

So what is it you secretly long for, that you got discouraged about by a teacher, a parent, or even schoolmates? Maybe you should finally admit you want to pursue it, and find that great teacher who can help you in your quest. And ignore the ones who want to tell you how impossible your goal is, or how little progress you’ll be able to make toward it at your advanced age (of 25, 30, 40, 50 or 60). You don’t have time for people like that. You’ve got some creativity to cultivate, right now!

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches clients on connecting with their creativity. Find out what that’s like through a discounted sample coaching session. Email Jennifer at today to schedule yours!