“Yes and…” The Open Doorway to Creativity

open doorHow can two little words form an open doorway? Think about it this way, how many times have you been brought up short by the words “Yes, but”? Children hear this phrase every day, and while they seem like harmless words, the meaning behind them is very clear: don’t be creative, don’t dream, and don’t question.

Being creative takes courage and requires a dream. Throwing a but into the mix, even if well intentioned, will stop creativity in its tracks.

When we share our dreams, it’s bad enough to hear other people say but. It’s even worse when it comes from within, from our comfort zone that doesn’t want to expand and grow. Do you talk yourself out of things with buts? It’s a lovely word for excuses, and a very powerful weapon to wield when you want to talk yourself out of something you really should do.

All it takes is a little change.

“Yes and…” is an expansive alternative. But slams doors shut, and presents the possibility of more options and encourages creative thought.

In order for creativity and innovation to blossom, you must train yourself (and children) to see the wide variety of paths before you, not just the obstacles. Instead of letting but defeat you, use and to help you acknowledge the obstacle and think your way around it.

“Yes, and…” is empowering. “But” is the fastest way to an answer, but isn’t always the best answer.

When I was younger I told everyone who would listen I wanted to be an F-14 pilot. There are plenty of buts my family could have used: “but you wear glasses”, “but you are not American (and Canada doesn’t have any F-14’s)”, “but you get sick to your stomach on carnival rides.”

Instead, my mom said yes – acknowledging my dream – while asking…”and how will you do it?” This got me thinking about laser eye surgery, moving away, and dealing with a lot of motion sickness….then I came to the conclusion that while it would be fun, it may not be my dream after all. The important point of all this was “but” was not allowed to dash my dream. “And” allowed me to fully explore the option and decide I really didn’t want to fly F-14’s. However, if I do every have the opportunity to go for a ride, I will be first in line!

One of the worst phrases you can say is “but, you are just a kid.” If you need convincing, check out Adora’s TED TALK!

Using “yes, and…” is a great way to encourage communication and critical thinking in your children. “But” is a great indicator of limiting thinking. When you catch yourself saying but, replace it with and – see how far you can go!

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Posted in Children's Development, Communication, Creativity/Inspiration.

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