Being Creative in a World that Tells You “No”

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All of us have a steak of cynicism.

Sometimes it proves to be helpful against political correctness run amok or politicians or advertisements that promise what they cannot deliver.

But cynicism can be an inspiration killer. It is also a poor substitute for critical thinking. Imagine how demoralizing it is to hear others say,

“This could never happen to you!”

“You want to try what? That’s impossible!”

Trouble comes when we internalize the cynicism of others. We then allow their opinion to define and limit us and blunt our ability to think critically and act courageously.

It helps to have role models of people who overcame overwhelming odds and refused to succumb to a “Can’t do  mindset”.

As I watched the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela last week I thought back to my days in South Africa over 40 years ago. Most of the nation never dreamed that he would be released from prison let alone become the president of a free South Africa.

What happened?

He and his fellow prisoners never stopped believing that the oppressive apartheid regime would eventually implode. Nor were they limited by a belief that they were helpless in making the change they envisioned.

What about your circumstances at work or in the home or at the national level?

Do you believe/fear that things will never change?

Do you yield ground to the cynics (including your own inner voice) that confront you at every turn?

When you allow cynicism to grind away at your confidence your dominant thought might be a popular saying in Mexico

Ni Modo (Whatever!!)

Recently after the national election we asked our Mexican waiter, “Did you vote? He placed a piece of paper in front of us and drew a large X on it. “That is how I voted,” he said, “I drew a X on the ballot and nullified my vote”. We asked why he responded cynically,

“The government is so corrupt. Politicians make great promises when they seek election but once in office they sell out to the highest bidder. So what is the use of voting it makes no difference.”

He added in Spanish “Ni modo”

There is no exact English translation of this phrase. However, in general, it communicates an attitude of cynical resignation to a situation that the speaker believes will never change and over which he has no control.

Here are some examples of cynicism.

“Good luck if you think he will change”

“Honest politician. That’s an oxymoron”

“This company will only change after the CEO retires/dies.”

Has cynicism rendered you helpless?

Are you now resigned to the belief that nothing will change for you?

We have to find ways to move beyond resignation. We have to accept that

 Change is Possible

There comes a point where we have to be a part of the change that we envision.

 We have to challenge “Ni Modo” which represents the story our mind tells us.

We can own up to the fact that we wrote the cynical “what ever” script. Now we can edit our beliefs with

“Maybe, just maybe I can find ways to change”

“What resources can I find to empower the new story line I want to live?”

It helps to consider the people who have “dreamed the impossible dream”. Not just Nelson Mandela but persons who

  • Left an abusive family situation in the USA and started a new life in Mexico
  • Were fed up with an oppressive corporate environment and moved to another job or started a new business.
  • Were once cynical but took action along with others in response to an unjust situation.
  • Once believed that an intimate relationship was not possible. They gave up their self-limiting beliefs (perfectionism?) and risked and found a deeply satisfying relationship.
  • And how about the story of David and Goliath?

What was it that they did that you need to emulate?

I invite you to read the blog posting “Courage” and start taking those steps beyond cynicism and helplessness.

Your time for change has come.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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