Changing the World through Creative Leadership

Changing the World through Creative Leadership

Creative Leaders are people who have worked through their creative blocks, taken ownership of their unique creative expression, and begun walking in power to change the world. They are people who cultivate communities of thriving creatives. Creative Leaders actively and intentionally invest in the lives of people around them. 

Finding Your Creative Voice through Fun & Games

Finding Your Creative Voice through Fun & Games


Your unique creative expression is super powerful - it can change the world around you for good! Your creative expression, or creative voice, is worth fighting for and expressing! More than that, we need you to express your unique creativity! The world is waiting for you to step into your creative superpowers. So, how do you figure out what those are? 

Fighting For Your Creative Voice

Fighting For Your Creative Voice

I believe that your unique creative expression is so powerful that it actually has the power to change the world around you for good. That means that your creativity is worth fighting for, no matter how many enemies arise against it.

Now is the Perfect Time to Stop: Reframing Workaholism

Now is the Perfect Time to Stop: Reframing Workaholism

Excellence is the antidote for Workaholism as well as Perfectionism. Excellence allows you to have a process: a beginning, middle, and end of each project. Excellence infuses grace into your life, giving you space for adventures, fun, rest, joy, and your best work. Perfectionism demands that everything to perfect every step of the way, while Excellence values the process.

Now is the Perfect Time to Start: Rebooting Procrastination

Now is the Perfect Time to Start: Rebooting Procrastination

At it’s heart, Perfectionism is a form of fear which insists on holding everything we produce up to an unattainable standard. Perfectionism delights in finding any small detail and blowing it out of proportion until it looks impossible to overcome, constantly grading the outcome of every project before it’s even started. To escape facing Perfectionism’s standards we often avoid starting altogether by procrastinating.

Silence the Naysayers: Impostor Inspector

Silence the Naysayers: Impostor Inspector

The Ringleader is a master entertainer who lives to fill your mind with reruns of his show, "Mistakes of Your Life." He thrives on throwing every mistake, missed opportunity, or failure into your face to keep your attention focused on the past. 

Silence the Naysayers: Ringleader Regret

Silence the Naysayers: Ringleader Regret

The Ringleader is a master entertainer who lives to fill your mind with reruns of his show, "Mistakes of Your Life." He thrives on throwing every mistake, missed opportunity, or failure into your face to keep your attention focused on the past. 

Silence the Naysayers: Colonel Criticism

Silence the Naysayers: Colonel Criticism

Colonel Criticism waves his long, condescending finger in your face, trying to prevent you from creating great work by criticizing your work without giving you clear ways to grow. Critique, also shows you where you can grow, but it intentionally creates a pathway to future success by empowering you with tools and resources.

How To Escape the Comparison Trap

How To Escape the Comparison Trap

The world is waiting for your unique creative expression. If you don't release it, we will all miss out on something amazing! But you're not going to be able to express it if you are trying to make it look like someone else. Be YOU!

Creativity Is For Everyone!

Creativity Is For Everyone!

All creative expression is not music, painting, drawing, fashion, carpentry, dance, sculpture, or cooking. It is all of those things, but it is so much more! Creativity can be applied to all of the sports, music, and math expressions listed above to find breakthroughs and try new methods. Like you can learn and grow your athletic abilities, you can also learn and grow your creative expression. 

A Bittersweet Announcement

“A lady always knows when to leave.”

  • Fried Green Tomatoes

I’m not normally a person who finds herself at a loss for words. I’ve written countless chapters, blogs, letters, emails, to-do lists, cards. . .even post-its. Words, words, words. Lots of them. I have all the words for every occasion.

Until it’s time to say goodbye.

You see, this is my last post as a Bright Ideas Girl. After seven years of writing, teaching, and spreading creativity, it’s time for me to step down from my post. I’ve spent many seasons with this beautiful project, but the seasons have changed in my life (as they often do). I don’t have the same time and energy to devote to Bright Ideas as I once did, and I won’t do you the disservice of giving you a half-hearted effort.

I want to make it clear that this does not mean that Emily and I have had a falling out, or that we are parting on bad terms. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Bright Ideas is on the verge of some incredible things, and Emily and I realized that she is the one best positioned to run into this bright future. It wasn’t an easy choice to make; in fact, we both wrestled with the idea for some time. In the end, we both knew that my exit would open the way for the new things that are coming. I am stepping back, but I’m also waving her forward into a brilliant new chapter in the Bright Ideas story. It’s a bittersweet, yet joyous parting.

Now, this won’t be the last you ever see of me around here. I love you all too much to never come back for a visit. I’ll be around for future collaborations, and I’ll always be that loud voice cheering everyone on.

As I go, I want to say an enormous “thank you” to all of the amazing people that have followed us, contributed, and helped Bright Ideas along over the years. This has been the most incredible journey, and I’m overwhelmed when I think of what this has become. I’m proud, honored, and grateful to say that I had a hand in Bright Ideas. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and I hope you’ll stay on for the next part of the ride. The best is yet to come!

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Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Stay excellent.

Love,
Sarah

P.S. Big things are on the horizon, so stay tuned for more news from Emily about what’s coming next!

Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers

We were honored to have this article published in the March Issue of Stomping Grounds Magazine, a publication of 1701 Coworking in Virginia Beach. You can get a digital copy of the magazine (creative directed by our own Emily Lewin) by clicking here.

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero?

The good, world-changing kind of superhero? Dashing costumes, incredible powers, and crazy adventures have made superheroes the ultimate ideal for generations.

In typical superhero stories, the hero is either born with supernatural gifts or has an extraordinary experience which endows them with special powers. Though there were also self-made heroes, like Iron Man or Batman, most mere mortals do not have the incredible genius and wealth of Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark to build epic super suits that give an advantage in fighting evil. So we watch the hero stories, imagining ourselves as the characters we long to imitate.

What if I told you that you were born with superpowers after all? They may have been undercover until now, but the secret is out! Your unique creativity has the potential to be a powerful force for good in the world. Creativity isn’t reserved for a select class of people.

Creativity is a trait of being human; if you were born a human then you are creative.

If you are reading this article then this applies to you. Not only are you creative but your creative expression is unlike any other creative expression in the universe.

No one sees the world the way that you do. You have a unique perspective on the problems that burden your heart, the solutions that you dream of, and the resources that you carry. These are your Creative Superpowers! Your creative expression can be as simple as solving problems in a new way or pursuing your passion with wholehearted excellence. Your unique Creative Superpowers in action can bring so much good into the world.

Every Creative Superhero is on a journey, one that involves many stages of life and creative exploration. You may be reconciling your Backstory, in the throes of Discovery, delighting in Fun and Games, stepping up to Ownership, Rising to the Occasion, or Walking in Power to Change the World through Creative Leadership. These stages are not a one-time event, but rather a cyclical path that every Creative Superhero walks on their journey. Regardless of what stage you find yourself in right now, your journey is epic and deserving of celebration.

Given our examples of creativity above - problem-solving and wholehearted excellence - the requirements for being a creative person are simple. It is up to you to decide what your creative expression will look like. What have you always longed to do but felt like you didn’t have permission to try? That feeling of longing is a clue to your unique creative expression.

Your Creative Superpowers might look like brewing the perfect cup of coffee, finding a more accurate way of accounting, or designing a new solar-powered lamp for the third world. Your creative expression might look like a traditional art form, or it might not. Regardless of what your Creative Superpowers look like, they are desperately needed right now.

The world is waiting for your unique creative expression! It’s time to throw back your cape, pull on your boots, and get to work as a Creative Superhero!

If you need help discovering your creative superpowers or navigating your journey as a creative superhero, we would love to help! Bright Ideas is a collection of playful, practical resources to light up your creativity. We help people engage with their creative journeys through group courses, workshops, conferences, and a new podcast, "Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers." Bright Ideas Collective is run by Emily Lewin and Sarah Bryan. You can find hundreds of blog posts about living a creative lifestyle, and more about Bright Ideas at http://brightideascollective.com

We got a whole new look!

You may have noticed some changes around here and we hope that you love them!

About six months ago, we decided to take a comprehensive look at who we (Emily & Sarah) are now, and to think about the people who have unlocked their creativity with Bright Ideas. We've been honored to work with amazing men and women of all ages, and we hope to continue to be able to do that, but we found that our message seems to resonate the most with women. We took time to find ideas and inspiration that reminded us of these powerful women and crafted our new brand from those ideas - some of which you can see below. 

Celebrating the victories of the last few years - publishing our book, speaking at incredible events, and evolving our material into new projects - is also part of this rebrand. We are excited to express more of the way that the Bright Ideas and each of us have evolved over the last six years. Can you believe we're in our sixth year already?! So crazy!

This is just the first step in a series of new, exciting surprises coming in the next few weeks! You can follow along by joining our email list, following us on social media (Facebook or Instagram), or keeping an eye out here on our website. 

We would love to hear what YOU think about our rebrand! Please let us know in the comments or shoot us an email! 

Here's a few of our inspiration photos!

You can see more on our Pinterest here!

Kicking off 2018 with a Magazine Feature!

Happy New Year everyone! We are super excited about everything that 2018 holds for Bright Ideas, Sarah and Emily's personal creative endeavors, and your creative expressions! It's going to be an amazing year! 

Bright Ideas has been under the radar for the past few months as we've reset our focus and pulled back from blogging to work on a new project - details coming soon! Stay tuned to our Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date!

As a fabulous way to kick off the new year, we were featured in a new magazine, STOMPING GROUNDS, a publication of 1701 Coworking, designed by our very own Emily Lewin! One of Emily's previous blog posts was edited into an article titled, "4 Ways to Avoid Avoidance." Check it out at 1701vb.com/sg

 

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Wonder 201 - Creative Hero U Gen. Eds.

Wonder is the feeling in your chest when you see something new, magnificent, or awe inspiring. Your breath might catch in your throat as your eyes grow wide to take it all in. Wonder is the feeling you experience when you follow your curiosity and allow yourself to be immersed in the unknown. When was the last time you felt wonder?

Wonder enlarges our capacity to see, feel, and experience the world around us. Creativity is found in the space created by wonder as it increases our desire for and appreciation of beauty. Outlining our daily experiences with gold and revealing treasures in every corner, wonder is magic.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats

I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I had seen pictures of Lady Liberty in books and I knew that my great grandparents had sailed past her through the harbor on their way to New York City, but nothing had prepared me for the sight of seeing the Statue in real life. Seeing something with my own eyes that I had only heard of or dreamed about before provoked my sense of wonder and awe. I was able to feel for a moment what it might have been like to see that beautiful beacon of arrival after a long ocean voyage. The inspiration, perspective, and beauty in that moment was profound and left a lasting impression that continued to resonate in me when I saw the Statue later.

In order to experience wonder, we have either to see things that we have never seen before or see familiar things in a new way. Whether that is visiting a new culture, or taking a new route to work in the morning, wonder is provoked by mystery and curiosity. As adults we feel the need to appear as though we know everything and we often resist situations where we would face the unknown because it can make us feel vulnerable. The danger of insulating ourselves with knowledge is that we can miss the beauty of wonder. Imagine a child going to the zoo for the first time - what wonder would be inspired by seeing a zebra's stripes or the long neck of a giraffe? Children experience wonder often because so much of the world is new to them.

Wonder is vital to the creative process because it keeps us close to a child-like perspective. Children fully embrace wonder and curiosity because they haven't learned to insulate themselves from the vulnerability of the unknown. The creativity of children is unmatched because they do not have any filters around their curiosity. There is a place of child-like wonder in each of us that can unlock creative expression beyond what we've yet seen, and can give us the fuel for a sustainable creative life.

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”
― Albert Einstein

What would we find if we allowed our curiosity to lead us more often? What would we try? What adventures would we experience? What would we learn if we tried that creative expression that we are curious about but don't want to experiment with for fear of failure? What would we lose by taking more time to play?


Action: Allow your mind to ask the question, "I wonder what would happen if..." and then be willing to try some of the ideas that come to mind. Look at things backwards, upside down, inside out...the possibilities are endless! Try a new creative expression this week, the one that you've been curious about...yes that one that you are scared to try... it doesn't have to be serious or your next career move, give it a try as play and see what happens.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.

Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University, Gen. Eds.

Class two in the Creative Hero University Gen. Eds. is now in session! The subject is Wonder - what it is, how to cultivate it, and what it can do for a creative life. Wonder is. . .

The emotion excited by what is strange and surprising; a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration

To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
— Random House Dictionary

Wonder involves surprise, delight, joy, and amazement. It is state of openness to the unexpected and delightful. Like Gratitude, Wonder requires that you remain engaged in the world around you.  Rather than passing through life with blinders on your senses, you learn to spend you days engaged, focused, and intent on finding reasons for delight in every situation. Wonder calls you to pay attention to your surroundings, no matter how familiar or mundane they may be.

 Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University

Wonder 101 - Creative Hero University

As Gratitude was a defiance against pain and negativity, Wonder is defiance against boredom and jadedness. Day-to-day life is filled with mundane, routine activities, the required tasks whose regularity grinds like sandpaper on our creative hearts. The constant friction can leave us hardened, forming calluses that slow inspiration’s flow. Wonder acts like a protective coating between our creativity and the doldrums of life, allowing us to remain open to inspiration amid the friction of everyday life. Where most see only boredom, those who cultivate Wonder find joyful surprises in the average things of life.

What does Wonder look like in action? Find a child, and observe how they live. Children have an innate capability for Wonder because the world is new to them; each day is an opportunity to discover new things, learn new skills, and dream up new ideas. The world is fresh! From daisies to dance parties, life holds an endless array of surprises and joys. Children participate in these joys with abandon, unconcerned with the opinions of others or the pressures what they “should” be doing. Public opinion takes a backseat to merriment, and productivity must bow to discovery.

Though this perspective can seem impossible for tired, world-worn adults, the concept is essential for cultivating Wonder. A childlike perspective enables Wonder to become a natural function of creative living. When we throw off jaded self-consciousness, we allow our God-given creativity space to explore, discover, and enjoy the world around us. We don’t have to wish for better views, because we’ve reset our vision to see with Wonder. Boredom gives way to excitement as  possibilities, once so invisible to us, are revealed at every turn. Life is fresh again!


Action:

Practice the Child’s Perspective

Choose three situations that you encounter every day (the more familiar, the better). Challenge yourself to view these known experiences with a child’s perspective, approaching them as if their brand new. What do you discover?  What thoughts, ideas, or responses does it trigger? Does the situation seem new or different from this perspective? How so?


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

Gratitude 101, Part B - Creative Hero University, Gen. Eds.

Welcome to the Creative Hero University Gen. Eds.! First lesson on the syllabus: Intention Gratitude. We put gratitude first because it is such a huge component of creativity and the creative lifestyle. The key to strong, healthy creativity is being engaged with the world around us, and Gratitude is the best way to do that. It’s the ultimate engagement tool. Gratitude fuels creativity by keeping us open to wonder, delight, and enjoyment in the world around us.

It opens us up to find inspiration in even the most mundane circumstances, elevating the daily actions of our lives into a more creative place. It enables to see possibilities in impossible situations, and to find joy in circumstances that are far less than what our dreams. Gratitude is joyful, empowering, and full of creative potential for those who embrace it.

 Gratitude is ACTIVE - Creative Hero University

Gratitude is ACTIVE - Creative Hero University

Gratitude is many wonderful things, but there is one thing it is not: passive. Gratitude is an active state, and only functions in those who cultivate it. As with art, gratitude works when you do. Hoping for gratitude will not bring it about in your life. Gratitude requires action, determination, and intentionality. It isn’t so much a mindset as it is a way of living life. Author Ann Voskamp describes gratitude as a “way of seeing.” In our book, we talk about wearing Gratitude Glasses, adjusting your vision to reframe the everyday aspects of life in the light of hope, possibility, and joy. It’s a daily, intentional choice to find the best in every situation, person, and circumstance.

Like a treasure hunter combing the dirt for buried gold, you can use gratitude to mine the lovely in the midst of the average, the glorious amid the mundane. Ask yourself questions like:

 

Where is the joyful aspect of this situation?

 

What is beautiful here?

 

What can I take delight in right now?

 

When you find gratitude sources, celebrate them! Keep a journal, and list out all the reasons you have to be grateful each day. Write thank you notes to the people (and things) that enrich your daily life. Keep a photo log of the beautiful things you encounter as you go through your day. As you train yourself with gratitude, you teach your vision to naturally seek out gratitude sources at every turn. Before long, even the ugliest situations will hold an element of inspiring beauty, because you’ve taught yourself to see it.

Intentional Gratitude is far more than thank you notes and finding pretty things, however; it is a powerful creative act. It is the ultimate defiance against the dark and painful experiences of this world, and greatest tool to combat the doldrums of the day-to-day life. Gratitude returns the color to a world stripped to grey by stress, busyness, and constant demands. It slows the rush of time, making room for glory and beauty to again have a place in daily life. Practicing intentional gratitude empowers you to see the joyful possibilities around, and to bring them into reality through your creative expression. The beauty that you see through gratitude can become beauty that you speak through your creative expression, and that expression can become a piece of beauty that changes someone else’s daily experience. That is powerful indeed.


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Gratitude 101 - Creative Hero University Gen. Eds.

For the past six months we have been unpacking the journey of a Creative Superhero. Each stage leads into the next with it's own set of challenges and opportunities. No matter which stage of the journey you are currently in, our next topic is a set of core principals that every Creative Superhero needs in order to reach the ultimate goal of Walking In Power to Change the World. We call these principals the Gen Eds of Creative Hero University.

The first class that is required for all Creative Superheros is Gratitude. Intentional gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool. Gratitude does not require any additional resources; it is accessible at any time, by any person, in any situation. Gratitude can shift our perspective from stress and negativity to peace and hope, allowing us to find beauty even in the most mundane and even painful circumstances. An intentional practice of gratitude creates a place of strength in us that can carry us through hard times in our creative journey.

We have written many times about gratitude because it is an essential part of the creative process and is a requirement for advancing into Creative Leadership. Just as Creative Leaders have reached a level of mastery in their creative expression through intentional practice, gratitude can be developed into one of our Creative Superpowers. Focusing our attention, gratitude reveals not what we lack, but all of the possibilities present in this moment. Even inspiration, that age old tease of the artist, is ever available when we are willing to exercise gratitude as it forces us to engage with the beauty around us in this present moment.

We find gratitude to be so important that we wrote an entire chapter on it in our Bright Ideas Book, here's a taste of what we had to say:

Living with constant awareness of the tangible goodness of God in our lives releases us from anchors that have held us back, propelling us forward. Gratitude allows us to rejoice in beauty everywhere, from the tiny petals on the flowers beside the road to the grandeur of cathedrals. Thanks flings back the curtains and opens the windows of our souls to fresh air and life in previously closed spaces. It gives room for light and sound and color to invade our consciousness. Gratitude adds spice, intrigue, flavor, adventure, and mystery to the mundane. It invites us to step out of the rush of life and frees us to live fully in this right-now moment.

Action: start regular exercise - take 1 minute every day this week to quickly jot down at least 3 intentional gratitude thoughts. You might be surprised how much beauty is around you right this moment. If you need help, we love Ann Voskamp's free Joy Dares - simple prompts to help you find gratitude every day.


Emily is a creative entrepreneur, loving life in Virginia Beach, VA, by way of DEN, CLT, & NYC. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing music and blogs, designing pretty web things, drinking coffee, experimentally cooking, and exploring her city. You can listen to Emily's music, follow her adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or hire her here.