A crafter putting beads together for a bracelet might first choose complementary colors and contrasting textures; then lay them out, rearrange, and finally string them together. An individual confronting a problem will follow a similar pattern — picking the pieces needed, arrange them and rearranging them until there is a workable solution.

Life is created. Yet we often take what is handed to us and accept it as is, forgoing the creative process of adding and eliminating, arranging and rearranging until we have something that is a viable option.

The creative process includes four or five steps — the first, preparation. If you are making a bracelet get the supplies. If you are a musician, practice scales. If you are a programmer, play with code. If you are facing a problem, research options. This is work. Finding out more, practicing what you already know, playing around with other options. Preparation, exposing ourselves to more information, typically involves others.

Life is created. Feed your brain.

The second step in the creative process is incubation. Let our minds wander. Stretch our thinking. This is a challenging stage in the middle of our hustle and bustle world full of beeps, buzzes, notifications, and instant news. Even when we manage to set all that noise aside, we tend to make our own noise by stewing rather than incubating. Stewing brings agitation, fuming, worry. An incubator is a place of advancement, cultivation, nurturing. Both require heat but with different results — one cooks the egg, the other transforms it.

Life is created. Cultivate transformation.

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After incubation comes illumination and insight. This is the moment the pieces of the puzzle come together. Connections are made between ideas. This insight often strikes in the middle of the mundane — while driving, sleeping, walking, showering — when our brains are in neutral. If we’re not experiencing illumination, it might be because we regularly extinguish the light — suffocate the possibilities, keep ourselves stuck in the dark. We do that by never letting our brains be in neutral, instead we rehearse our hurt, question other’s actions, belittle ourselves and we do it on a shuffle and repeat setting.

Life is created. Uncover space for understanding.

When the incubating is complete, implementation begins. The creative process starts with work (preparation) and ends with work. It’s time to take the action. Do the thing. Create the piece. Of the people in the world who actually devise a plan, 1% work the plan. Putting the new solution, idea, pattern in place is where most of us stop short. Give up. Ignore. Forget. The difference between the 1% and the 99 — action.

Life is created. Take action.

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