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The Complex Simplicity of Humility: The Pathway of Creative Growth and Productivity

Sometimes an artist’s creative vision and productivity can become eclipsed by their own hustle and desire to exhibit markers of merit and relevance in the marketplace through outer metrics such as brand awareness and the size and engagement level of their various social media platforms—so much so that the simple task of doing (of working and growing their craft) can end up stalled or neglected. In an age where marketplace validation is often measured and awarded through the lens of perception, how can artists facilitate and sustain a reality of creative growth and productivity?

In remaining humble in the working of individual craft, artists can succeed in lowering the volume of ‘the hustle’ and the desire for validation—maintaining their access to the creative insight fueling their growth. This humility can be maintained or achieved through several mindsets and paths of action:

  • In the humbling of focus on individual wants and validation and the redirecting of focus towards the needs of the audience or marketplace.

  • Through listening with cognitive faith in the face of constructive criticism versus selective hearing in support of individual desires and expectations.

  • By avoiding the projection of avatars or professional facades rooted in self-aggrandizement and/or insecurity--the upkeep of which distract from the simple, yet integral steps of artistic disciplines and daily practice.

  • The practice of authentic creativity—untethered to public approval.

A similar mindset and avenue towards humility can be seen in scripture through the story of Namaan—a Syrian military commander who suffered from leprosy. After learning of the Israelite prophet Elisha and his ability to perform miracles and acts of healing, Namaan set off with his entourage to seek Elisha’s help.

When he finally arrived at the entrance of Elisha’s home, he was greeted by Elisha’s servant who delivered the prophet’s instruction for Namaan to wash himself in the Jordan seven times—afterwards, he would be healed.

Upon hearing Elisha’s advisement, Namaan complained, leaving in a rage, as he expected to be greeted by Elisha and personally treated and prayed for—wondering out loud why he had traveled so far to wash in the Jordan, when in his mind, any river in his own country or nearby could have served the purpose.

In response, Namaan’s servants replied: “If he had asked you to do something more difficult you would have done it. Now why can’t you just wash yourself, as he said, and be cured?” Namaan subsequently followed through as advised, and was instantly cured. In parallel, the opportunity for Namaan to be healed was almost lost through his pride and need for validation, which eclipsed the simple steps of doing which were required in the moment. By moving forward in humility and lowering the volume of his desires and preconceptions, he was able to take advantage of the insight that was offered and gain healing.

That same level of insight for artists and creatives through the practice of humility can lead toward a pathway of increased confidence and hope, in addition to continued growth and productivity—As the Creator, who endows all various forms of creativity through spirit, once stated, in addressing the humble:

“I am the high and holy God who lives forever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope.”

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