Three things we need for growth

3 secrets to creative growth

For growth three things are needed. These are mastery, autonomy and purpose.

We are born learning, from the moment we pop out of the womb. That learning thrives when we are given the space to get good at it, do it in a way that lights us up and we understand why we are learning it.

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost. - Dalai Lama

Let her grow


Mastery requires curiosity

A person will continue to be curious about something if they want to master it.

If we incorporate play into the learning it piques curiosity because it feels fun. When learning is fun our brain receives a hit of dopamine. Dopamine tempts us to explore a little deeper and so the cycle to mastery begins.


Mastery must feel reachable

If we feel that the skill is so far out of our capability, we struggle to master it because we don’t get started.

To help children believe the task is doable, we do it with them. Homework, for example, will eventually be a DIY exercise, but for something new, I find it so valuable to do it with them. It is one of the reasons I like the idea of doing homework in class – the learning comes from doing.


Let them determine how they learn

The things I remember about school are fun, friendships, the times we broke the rules and how the good teachers made us feel. I do not really remember much about the content.

We like to choose who we learn from, how we learn and when we learn. When this autonomy is taken away from us, learning is impaired.


Let them do it with their friends

Unfortunately, timetables, staffing and infrastructure are all constraints in our current day school environments. The least we can do is let them learn with their friends. This is not cheating, this is collaboration.

I saw first hand recently how suddenly being split up from friends, whom only moments before were laughing and giggling together, completely deflated their demeanour. Where others felt it was disrupting, I felt it was delightful.

No longer were they inspired to complete the creative task I had just given them.

“I get my inspiration from my friends,” as tears started to well up in the bottom of her eyes.

I so get that.

With a little encouragement, she came to me at the end of class to let me know she had started something despite being on her own. I was so proud of her.

If you love what you do


We need to know why we are learning it

I don’t know how many times I have heard, “I have no idea why I am learning this.”

Admittedly I get this when I am teaching creativity. I am continually challenged to make it relevant. Everyone is different, so what resonates for one doesn’t for another.

If we cannot make it clear why children should spend good brain energy on learning what we have to share, then we are wasting everyone’s time.

What we are sharing needs to help solve a problem and we need to be clear about what that problem is.

A starting point is with the word “…because…”

For example

I teach how our character strengths contribute to our creativity

We are learning about our strengths because they shape what and how we create. 

One of my top strengths is appreciation of beauty and excellence.

If I do not work with people who are really good at what they do (excellence) or work with beautiful materials/tools then the experience of creating something new is not as pleasurable for me.

The same goes for the outcome of my creativity. The goal is one of beauty and excellence. Whether that is in the images that the girls create in our Challenge, or that my work allows me to be at home and in my garden (nature is full of beauty and excellence). All the decisions I make are informed by my strengths.

When we lean into what we are naturally good at we become consistent and reliable. We become known for those qualities.

When it comes time to ask people to try a new idea (creativity) they trust what we are saying and are prepared to come along for the ride. Reaching our own purpose feels easier.

Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems. – Sun Tzu

In Summary

When we are asking our children to learn, three things hopefully exist:


we need to give them the belief they can master it. The best way to get them to believe it is doable is by doing it with them.


We need to give them the freedom and space to do it their way. Yes we can lead them to the water’s edge but they need to learn how to drink. If they don’t, then trust that there is a very good reason they are not.


They need to understand how it helps them, not only survive, but thrive. One of the most powerful ways to do this is with the word “…because…” and make sure that reason taps into their strengths so they can use it.

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A process that gifts competence and resilience to seize life’s opportunities.

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