All Posts Tagged With: "creativity"

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #20

watercolor by: Julie Gabrielli

Week 20

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. ~ Albert Einstein

I am more convinced than ever of the power of creative expression – images, story, movement, song – to catalyze creative problem-solving. Brain science confirms this: we have two hemispheres, right and left. By holding only to the rational, linear, and analytical, we treat the right brain as a poor step-child. We need to get over thinking of right-brain pursuits like art, poetry, music, and storytelling as mere “entertainment.” How can you open to new possibilities by honoring the gift of intuition this week?

More: View the fascinating and exciting TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 19 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #19

Brown Residence by: Julie Gabrielli

Week 19

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Beauty is love made manifest. Approaching a problem with such open-heartedness brings in all the inspiration, creativity, and quantum leaps that are available to us. We are all born geniuses, so when we admire genius in someone like Bucky Fuller, we acknowledge that potential within ourselves. This week, how will you choose to tap the fullness and flow of your natural genius?

More: Bucky Fuller was wonderfully quotable. Read more quotes here.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 18 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

Are you using only half your mind?

7 tips to get in the flow

You know the expression that begins, “I’ve got half a mind to. . . ?” Well, guess what? Most of us really are using only half our mind when tackling the tough challenges of greening our business. That’s the equivalent of trying to go three rounds with Mohammad Ali with one hand tied behind your back!

Yes, the focus of the green movement is almost exclusively on a linear, left-brain, problem-solving approach. Give things up, use less, eat your kale. While this has its place, it isn’t very inspiring. It is far more rewarding to engage our whole mind – including the often overlooked right brain.

I am more convinced than ever of the power of creative expression to catalyze new thinking. Brain science confirms this: we have two hemispheres, right and left. By holding only to the rational, linear, and analytical left brain, we treat the right brain as a poor step-child. We need to get over thinking of right-brain pursuits like art, photography, film, poetry, music, and storytelling as mere “entertainment.”

As Albert Einstein observed:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Relying only on the seen and rational, to the exclusion of engaged intuitive leaps, is one reason why more entrepreneurs aren’t already seeing the green in their own business. It also makes working sessions seem long, tedious, and – dare I say – boring. Since change is often challenging, using half our mind makes things way harder than they need to be!

I was reminded of this recently, working with a successful energy-efficiency consultancy to benchmark their sustainability practices. An early leader in the green building movement, they aspire to be a world-class company. It’s important to them to lead by example, and they want to focus their energies to do even better as they grow.

Our benchmark tool helped them to go deeper and look at operations, community engagement, and employee policies, as well as the more obvious impacts from energy use, transportation, and waste and recycling.

In our debrief after two sessions with them, we realized we had defaulted to a very left-brain focused, detailed, and exhausting mode. Luckily, these were engineers, so they weren’t fazed by the technical language and the linear, logical approach. Certainly, we all made plenty of discoveries and had a satisfying number of “a-ha” moments.

Still, we came away wondering what was left undiscovered. Next time we will structure the sessions very differently, to engage both left and right brains. Why can this help? Remember, our old friend Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. We can get so dazzled by the facts and figures, by the data and the right-wrong mindset, that we can miss all the nuance.

Here are seven tips to making your next collaborative session more fun and productive. How can you open to new possibilities by honoring the gift of intuition this week?

1.  No right or wrong. Start your session by reminding yourself and everyone that you are creating something new. You are not keeping score.

2.  Be a beginner. Even if it’s something you do on a regular basis, think back to when you were brand new. How might a beginner approach the situation? What would a novice ask?

3. Tell a story. Our brains love analogies. A good story can be an economical – and inspiring – way to convey complex ideas and meaning.

4.  Lighten up. Who says meetings have to be dull and serious? Laughter and play are inherently creative.

5.  A picture is worth 1,000 words. Use images to help people brainstorm and make creative leaps. Pictures engage our right brain and help open us to greater possibility in the moment.

6.  Roll up your sleeves. Rather than structuring a meeting with an expert up front giving everyone the Truth, get everyone around the table engaged. Invite them to get to work, rather than sit passively waiting for the answers.

7.  Questions rather than answers. Encourage people to express their ideas only as questions and see what happens. Misunderstandings are treasure!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How did this information help you? Post your comments below.

21 days without complaint or criticism: is it possible?

Photo by: Julie

Note: when this ran in my recent newsletter, I received more comments from readers than any other article! Today, I was inspired to post it here and invite you to post your experiences — if you take up the 21-day challenge. Can’t wait to hear from you! (Not subscribed yet to the newsletter? Don’t miss an issue! Put your name and email in the spaces under the red box that says, “Gabrielli’s Green Business.”)

I have embarked on something I must admit – I did NOT want to do this. Of course, I am absolutely convinced it’s just what I need right now. But when I really thought about it, I had no idea how I could possibly last the 21 days. I imagined myself having to start over, not just every day, but several TIMES a day. And, well, to be honest with you – so far, I have started over three times.

What is this quest, you may be wondering?

Inspired by Edwene Gaines‘ brilliant book, “Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity,” one of the laws is clear goal-setting. We’ve all studied and practiced this, right? Well, she has a twist. It’s a preparatory practice. Ready for it? Go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. 21 days. If you slip, simply forgive yourself and start over. For another 21 days. As she says, you have to be really careful what you say on Day 20!!

As I contemplated doing this, I literally could not imagine how I could last 21 whole days. What would I say? I played back a recent interaction w/ my son, where I both complained AND criticized him for losing not one but both pairs of scissors from the kitchen drawer. (Mind you – I’m not complaining NOW, just telling a story!! Really. . . Doesn’t count, right?)

Who says worthwhile things are easy? Not only did I resolve to do it, I also told my son about my quest and enrolled him as my “minder.” His job is to tell me if I slip up, so I can start over the 21 days. He seems to appreciate the challenge. (He also reminded me that it’s only me doing this – he doesn’t have to!)

So, what does this have to do with green business?

People in the environmental community, myself included, can sometimes dwell too much on the negative. There is, we perceive, much going wrong with the planet’s health. Climate change (aka “Global Weirding”), destruction of the rainforest, massive oil spills, species extinctions. Whew! Just writing that list was exhausting!

While it can be motivating to keep in mind these and other consequences of a mindless, wasteful way of doing business, a more common response is simply to shut down. It all becomes overwhelming and seems hopeless.

Since we tend to get more of what we focus on, let’s try a new approach: one that emphasizes creativity and innovation. Seeing opportunities, rather than limitations. Shifting perspective from fixing what’s broken to asking, what do we really want here?

So far, a couple of weeks into my 21-day challenge, the benefits are already clear. Since complaining and criticism are off the table, I can meet each experience with appreciation and acceptance as the default. This feels very expansive and liberating, as if a whole part of my brain finally gets to have its say (having been drowned out before).

Imagine how the green / sustainability movement would be if we all decided not to complain or criticize. If we focused only on appreciation and clarity about what we want, rather than what we don’t want.

I think it was Mother Teresa who said, “I won’t go to an anti-war march. But, if you hold a peace march, please invite me.”

I am enjoying this so much that I may just extend it indefinitely. With such a light heart, why would I go back to the old ways of anxiety and worry? Try it! I’d love to hear your stories.

Thankful Thursday: What Are We Here For?

watercolor by: Julie
Today’s Thankful Thursday is a tribute to the Creative Force. We are all here to create a better world, first for ourselves, then for everyone else. Growth and change underpin every experience we have.

This force is the main driver of everything in our world. It is undeniable, irresistible, and ever-present. You may know it by one or more of these names: the Creative Force, Nature, Life, Love, Spirit, God, Goddess.

Each of us is a channel for the Creative Force. Our job in this life is to be creative. That’s it. Humans are designed for this: we are fundamentally a miraculously versatile, multi-talented, feeling, intelligent structure through which the Creative Force expresses itself.

It gets better. Since every single person has a unique body, mind, and abilities, the Creative Force expresses itself uniquely through each of us. As a child, were you taught to conform, to be like everyone else, or to meet an unrealistic standard of perfection? Were you made wrong in subtle – and not so subtle – ways for standing out? Even worse, were you told, “You’re just not very creative?”

This is a violation of what the Creative Force wants for us. We are here for one reason: to allow Creation to come through us beautifully and uniquely. This also means that it is pointless and destructive to make comparisons.

Far better to become more and more conscious of what is creating through you each day, what you most deeply desire to do, to be, or to have. Take time to practice allowing and expecting your desires to manifest. When I stop to notice how creative inspirations come to me, it’s really entertaining!

An oft-overlooked aspect of all of this unfolding, growth, and change is this: It’s not happening “out there.” This rich world of power, possibility, and promise is within us. That’s right. Your mind is the creative cause of all that you experience.

Think about it. We never make a move of any kind without first forming an image of it in our mind. Call it daydreaming, imagination, planning, getting an idea – it all originates in your mind. Ideas have the power to direct tremendous energy.

So that means that life proceeds THROUGH us. It doesn’t happen TO us. As an architect, I did this unconsciously all the time. I followed a process of imagining something in my mind, drawing it, and enlisting the help of others to build it. Creation = imagination + materials + effort.

The cool thing is that this works in every instance, all day long, throughout our lives. It’s not just a technique of someone in a creative profession. We are ALL creative – that’s how humans were designed!

This principle is found in all the world’s wisdom traditions. In Proverbs, it says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Since you’ve read this far, I’m going to reward you with a few of my favorite quotes:

From the Sufi mystic Rumi: “In fact, God does not regard your outward form and wealth, but does regard your heart and good deeds.”

“My heart holds within it every form,
it contains a pasture for gazelles,
a monastery for Christian monks.
There is a temple for idol-worshippers,
A holy shrine for pilgrims;
There is the table of the Torah,
and the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love
and go whichever way His camel leads me.
This is the true faith;
This is the true religion.
It is a very long way to go.”
-Ibn al-Arabi

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is transferred through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly.” – Martha Graham

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart…. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”
Carl Jung, Letters Vol I

“It seems to me a powerful message, worth repeating and repeating, that people want peace, simplicity, beauty, nature, respect, the ability to contribute and create. These things are much cheaper and easier to achieve than war, luxury, ugliness, waste, hate, oppression, manipulation. Some day, when everyone understands that nearly all of us truly want the same kind of world, it will take surprisingly little time or effort to have it.”
Donella Meadows

Napoleon Hill: “If you can conceive and believe it, you will receive it.”

“How we live our days is how we live our lives.” Annie Dillard

I would love to hear from you if any of these thoughts strike a chord.

Thankful Thursday: Creative Colleagues

photo by: Doug Retzler

Today, I am feeling very grateful to be blessed with so many inspiring friends and colleagues. Artists have a unique, passionate way of seeing the world around them. They bring us unexpected and surprising creations that help us to wake up to the beauty and wonder that’s all around us. In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, this is my valentine to all of you.

My artist friend, Doug Retzler, is a force in the Baltimore arts scene. I always see him at street fairs and events, like the Baltimore Eco-Festival, doing amazing things that delight kids and adults alike. Whether it’s a community-constructed bamboo shelter or an Art Car for the American Visionary Arts Museum, Doug brings delight, vision, and a sense of fun to his work. In a recent email to me, he noted, “Luckily, I never let reality get in my way.”

Chris Armstrong is a client and a great photographer. She recently send me this image. Isn’t it stunning?
photo by: Chris Armstrong

I loved working with Chris and her husband and partner, Jess, because they were so fearless and tireless in their quest to realize their dream. Renovating an old barn into a photography studio is one of the most romantic architectural briefs I can imagine. We used to give out projects like this in architecture school. They walked the talk in all ways possible — from salvaged materials, to solar-heating (and cooling- really!), to working with local Amish craftsmen, their studio truly is of its place. Treat yourself by spending some time with their portfolio. The engaging images of Amish country and of their many animals (including the Alpacas) are my personal favorites.

In the spirit of these artists’ passion and vision, here’s a Valentine’s Day thought for you, from “You(squared)” by Price Pritchett:

“Quantum leaps won’t happen if you’re living life with a lukewarm heart. Passion is a very important part of the process. It fires the soul and fills the spirit. . . .Passion also keeps you going when you’re hit with problems and uncertainty. But passion itself must be fueled, and you feed that flame with visions of a dream that is dramatic. The emotional intensity inside must burn hot enough to protect you against the chilling effects of doubt, uncertainty, criticism, and failure. Only deep desire can generate such heat.”

Here’s to a white-hot Valentine’s Day and to the power of your dreams.

4 Success Secrets of Becoming Green-Blooded

photo by: julie

I’m so excited about this Special Report , I can hardly sit still. Twenty years ago, as a young architect, when my eyes were opened to the tremendously negative impact my profession was having on the environment, I was shocked! Buildings use (and waste) a great deal of energy, water, and materials. My highly-competitive industry contributes substantially to climate change, environmental degradation , and even poor human health from sick building syndrome.

Rather than pack it all in, I saw these dismal statistics as a challenge . Surely, with intelligence, creativity , and determination, we can do better. I began to educate myself, to learn all I could about how nature really works, to study sustainability frameworks, to teach others about green design, to assemble and lead diverse project teams.

I am thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned with you. Having negotiated my way through this maze over many years, I fully understand the challenges that come from your struggle. Being green-blooded involves your whole being: heart, head and hands. As with any creative endeavor, it is intuitive and rational, visionary and practical. There are plenty of challenges and nay-sayers along the way.

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And. . . .after you have gone through some of the questions and taken the suggested actions in the report, please post here with your answers, observations, and results. Get the conversation going — share your questions, concerns and successes.