Reclaimed Wood Mason Jar Sconce. For outside in the backyard!

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Reclaimed Wood Mason Jar Sconce. For outside in the backyard!

Most everyone is born creative. As children, we experience imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But as time passes, due to socialization and formal education, many people will stifle those impulses. We discover how to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world appears to divide into “creatives” and “noncreatives,” and so many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves on the latter category. And yet we know that creativity is crucial to success in a discipline or industry. According to a current IBM survey of chief executives worldwide, it’s probably the most sought-after trait in leaders today. No one can deny that creativity has allowed an upswing and continued success of numerous companies, from start-ups like Facebook and Google to stalwarts like Procter & Gamble and General Electric. Students often arrived at Stanford University’s “d.school” (that was founded by among us—David Kelley—and it is formally called the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) to develop their creativity. Clients use IDEO, our design and innovation consultancy, for a similar reason. But in the process, we’ve learned that our obligation isn’t to teach them creativity. It’s to help them rediscover their creative confidence—the natural ability to produce new ideas and also the courage to test them out. We do this giving them strategies to get past four fears that hold the majority of us back: anxiety about the messy unknown, concern with being judged, anxiety about the first step, and concern with losing control. Easier said than can be done, you could argue. But we know it’s feasible for individuals to overcome even their most deep-seated fears. Consider the work of Albert Bandura, a world-renowned psychologist and Stanford professor. In one compilation of early experiments, he helped people conquer lifelong snake phobias by guiding them through a group of increasingly demanding interactions. They would start by watching a snake by having a two-way mirror. Once more comfortable with that, they’d progress to observing it through an open door, then to watching another individual touch the snake, then to touching it themselves through a heavy leather glove, and, finally, quickly, to touching it making use of their own bare hands. Bandura calls this technique of experiencing one small success after another “guided mastery.” The people that underwent it weren’t just cured of the crippling fear they'd assumed was untreatable. They also had less anxiety plus more success in other parts of the lives, taking on new and potentially frightening activities like horseback riding and speaking in public. They tried harder, persevered longer, coupled with more resilience facing failure. They had gained a whole new confidence inside their ability to attain what you got down to do.

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