The following is the first in a series on the CREATE process.


Some may think creativity is something you either have, or you don’t. It’s the classic “nature vs. nurture” debate: Is creativity innate or can it be learned, strengthened, and developed?

Well, yes, it can be nurtured. And what’s more, here’s how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy and the CREATE process
There are six key elements of creativity, each builds upon the next. Conveniently, their acronym spells the word: CREATE—Curiosity, Risk-Taking, Engagement, Adaptability, Trust, and Energy. Many people study Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (or Human Motivation) at some point in their education. The basic theory, as a quick review, is that we need food, water, and air at our very foundation of existence. As we progress and evolve, we secure the needs of our safety, both give and receive love and connection, and experience self-esteem—moving up the pyramid model. The pinnacle of this pyramid is entitled Self-Actualization. And isn’t that really the goal? To realize our potential, feel fulfilled, and make a difference with our contributions. The CREATE process uses a similar pyramid structure. However, where Maslow’s pyramid builds from the ground up, CREATE works in reverse to take a deep dive into creativity. It begins with Curiosity.

The first step—curiosity
By its very definition, it is impossible to create or to even “be creative” without curiosity. Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Curiosity, just like creativity, is a practice to be developed. Constant creativity and problem-solving is exhausting, so there’s a certain pull to rest on our accolades when working in a creative field like ours. By the time “something new” arrives on our clients’ inspiration boards, it’s already been done dozens of times. Leveraging the power of two magical little words can inspire creativity in myriad ways: What if? (see sidebar). Approaching your daily life with a sense of curiosity, having the expectation to learn something or experience something new, can literally change your life. Some of my favorite adventures and most successful ventures, both personal and professional, have started with these two words: “What if?”

Ask “What if?” at work
What if, when your client brings you the same photo you’ve seen six times this week alone, instead of simply accepting the status quo, you see it fresh? Ask questions to get your client connecting with themselves, to know what draws them to this idea. Armed with their likes and dislikes, what if you highlighted this one element they love and apply it in a different way, putting your own spin on things and making something new? What if you planned a “random” act of kindness once a week for a month? What if you looked for personal ways to connect with your team to let them know how valued they are? What if you reached out to a new vendor in town, approaching the vendor and their business with curiosity, looking for the good? For what kind of change could you be the catalyst?

Ask “What if?” at home
For a more personal application, what if you applied the same curiosity to your own life, specifically to two of your most used tools: your calendar and to-do list. What if you blocked two hours in your calendar for personal reflection; put your phone in airplane mode—no social media alerts, no interruptions. It’s just you and your favorite beverage of choice in your favorite location. During this time, identify your roles, commitments, tasks, and obligations—everything from the many hats you wear as an entrepreneur and business owner, those of working in the business and on it. Revisit Maslow’s hierarchy; include caring for your physical body, social needs, and network of love and belonging. Socrates challenges us, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Leave no emotional, financial, time, or energy commitment undocumented.

Take a fresh look
From this place of curiosity, take a fresh look at your life, at the way you are investing this one life you have to live. Take a red pen to your list, and identify the things you can delegate or delete altogether. Could you empower someone else (and in fact, change their world,) by hiring them to walk the dog, mow the lawn, or buy and deliver groceries? At the same time that you’re giving them the opportunity to grow, you now have “new” time and energy available for your own use. What if you were able to use this beautiful whitespace in your life to reconnect with friends? Spend more time with family? Take a new course—or a real vacation? What’s waiting for you?

Curious about what’s next? See the next article in this series on the CREATE process in the May/June issue. In the meantime, introduce yourself at for a sneak peek into the rest of the process. WPM
Tonia Adleta, PWP™, Aribella Events,, Philadelphia

Exploring your “What if’s”
Asking, “What if?” is not an invitation to live in regret. If your mind’s first response to “What if?” is to remind you of a missed opportunity or failure, take a moment to sit with that memory. Feel the emotions that come, unbidden as it may be, and look at the situation with new curiosity. What is there to be learned from the experience, and how can you apply that new perspective in the future? Journal your thoughts and identify the takeaways. Scott Adams reminds us, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”