This is a strange review, possibly, because I am only half-way through this book.
That said, it is easily one of the most profound books I have read in awhile.
The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin
My son is a musician. He gave this to me for my birthday. My excitement began when I saw that phrase in the title. Rarely do I hear outside the coaching context – “a way of being.”
In coaching this phrase describes how one shows up in the world, where we come from in our interactions with others and the world. It is the context for all the things we do. In this way it is distinct from doing. It is the container in which “doing” lives. It shifts our sights from the how and the what to the who and its BEINGness. It is a powerful and expansive place to start.
Rick Rubin starts here – who are you as you show up to the creative act.
Beautifully, he asserts that we are all creators.
To create is to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before. It could be a conversation, the solution to a problem, a note to a friend, the rearrangement of furniture in a room, a new route home to avoid a traffic jam…we’re already creators in the most profound way, creating our experience of reality and composing the world we perceive….The outside universe we perceive doesn’t exist as such. Through a series of electrical and chemical reactions, we generate a reality internally….Whether we do this consciously or unconsciously, by the mere fact of being alive, we are active participants in the ongoing process of creation. (Pp. 1-2.)
This is what I would call a “coachy” book. By which I mean, it employs so many coaching principles. I think that is because coaching is creating. It is creating powerful conversations that lead to actions that lead to things that did not exist before. And coaching is about embodying a way of being in which these conversations can exist.
Because at the end of the day coaching is creation and change. This book is for coaches. For artists. For everybody.
I would love to outline and review each of the short chapters in this book – all with a pithy and illuminating points to make about creative ways of being. Maybe later. For now, here is the one that comes immediately to mind. It is the one I first read when my boy gave me the book and I opened it randomly. The chapter is called “The Beginner’s Mind.” It talks about a computer (AI) that learned how to play the board game “Go.”
This game has been played for centuries and as such the people who excel at it, have learned certain traditionally believed best practices. It is important to ask about our own best practices. Because in the end the AI beat the grand master of Go. Why? Because at a pivotal moment in the game, when there were only 2 moves traditionally thought to be possible in the game, the computer made a different move. It turns out there were actually endless possible moves. And the humans, the experts, were limited by “the way it’s done.” This is so powerful to me because I am aware that we are always, at every moment (ok, maybe 90% of the time) controlled by our unconscious mind, which believes in doing things the way they have always been done.
I don’t know how we do it, but the game here is to learn to see where we are constricted by certain “rules” that we have made up about what is possible and to begin to see that “what is possible” is actually and truly limitless. The power of coaching arises from how hard it is for us to see that for ourselves. Even us coaches. The power of coaching is in having someone outside of you asking questions to get at your unconscious rules.
The moral: Read the book.
And also: Get a coach. Or at least take one up on the offer to experience coaching just one time. It will change your life.
And maybe: Become a coach!
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