≡ Menu

Guest post by Cass Mullane, Creative Innovator, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

When you think of a playground you may envision a small place with a swing set, a teeter totter and maybe a merry-go-round. Or, perhaps you live in a community that has created a larger space that may be the size of a city block with lots of equipment and areas to play. While the joy experienced in a small playground can be delightful, imagine the possibilities in a larger, more diverse playground.

The same holds true in your mental playground. If you have a small pleasant place to play, that’s fine. You are comfortable with the equipment and are very familiar with what’s possible there. But what if you pushed the boundaries out a little… or a lot? Imagine what your mental playground could be like if you removed the boundaries altogether. That would be an exceptional space that could provide you with endless ideas and possibilities to explore.

Today I’m going to challenge you to expand your mental playground and to develop new ways of thinking.

Creatives have many ways to stimulate new thinking. One simple way is to take two different materials that they are not used to using together and figure out how to combine them into one piece.

You can translate that into a good exercise for anyone wanting to expand their thinking by taking two seemingly unrelated things and figuring out a way to connect them. For example, how might you connect the need to water your garden with a commercial building?

While you’re pondering that, pay close attention to how your mind is working. At first you might be thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” Then, as you accept that anything is possible, you’ll relax and feel your mind expand to start considering the possibilities and the various ways you could connect those ideas. Ultimately you may have a free for all in the ideas department, coming up with the laugh-out-loud hilarious ideas along with the ‘oooh, that might actually work’ ideas, regarding each with equal consideration. It is a playground after all!

Several years ago someone told me that I had to have a traditional office for my business coaching practice and a separate studio for my art because the clientele was totally different and I could not combine business and art. Had I kept my mental playground small, I might not have come up with the way to connect my two worlds because I would have accepted someone else’s limitations. Instead, I thought, “There has to be a way to do this,” and I went to work expanding my mental playground until I came up with a way to connect my business and my art.

Today I work in a studio that I call “The Playground” which is located in Cottonwood Center for the Arts, a building that houses 70+ artists working in many mediums. A simple walk around the hallways serves as great stimulus for expanding my mental playground.

While in my studio I focus on helping clients navigate their businesses AND I feed my creative side simply by looking up from my computer screen. I am surrounded by art and art supplies which stimulate me and tweak my brain, continually reminding me that possibilities abound, workarounds abound, solutions abound, innovations abound. All I need to do is expand my mental playground to find them.

What are you doing to expand your mental playground?

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ International bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

I love this painting called “Depth of the Iceberg” by my VIP client, artist Annamieka Hopps Davidson. I didn’t realize it when I bought it but it was actually born out of our coaching work together! Annamieka later shared with me that this painting is her business plan. How cool and perfect is that?! This piece was her “visual reminder to be solid and yet, flowing… respect all the work that you do beneath the surface in order to show up in the world.” Very powerful! BTW, she is totally working that plan (see her Spotlight below).

I placed the painting in my office right under my RBBP as a beautiful reminder for me to honor all that’s going on below the surface. I’ve simplified my biz and haven’t been pushing as hard (which is great for my health and well-being!) AND I’m still attracting and working with awesome clients, I’ve been rolling out online RBBP rights to my licensed facilitators, and I continue to serve our right-brain community with my products and self-studies.

This shift has given me space to focus on my foundation (the bigger piece of the iceberg that you can’t see). I’m choosing substance over flash.

With so much hype flooding your social media feeds sometimes we forget that we’re only seeing the very flashy tip of the iceberg.

Perhaps you’re comparing yourself to someone who’s been at their craft for decades and yet you expect that your business “should” be on par with theirs after just a few years. Or maybe you’re judging yourself for not moving forward on your product or book fast enough and you’re not accounting for all of the journaling, drafting, brainstorming, and action that have led you to where you are now.

Just because your project hasn’t broken through the surface yet, doesn’t mean you haven’t made progress.

Remember that and keep going! If you keep taking small steps, eventually your end-goal will emerge and you’ll share it with the world. Besides, you’ll have plenty of growth along the way if you’re open to the learning.

Until then, honor the process and savor the richness of doing the deep work.

Whether it’s in the form of re-wiring your inner belief system to fuel your big vision, moving through emotional blocks so you can let your best self shine through, mending or strengthening relationships so you feel supported and seen, claiming your voice so you can take a stand for what you believe in, making the tough choices to prioritize what’s most important to you, owning your value, stepping into your bigness, forgiving yourself, or anything else that’s requiring your soul’s attention.

While these deep and subtle shifts may not make the flashy headlines, they are essential to running an authentic business and leading an authentic life.

They form the basis of all the goodness that bursts through the surface.
What do you discover when you dive below the surface? What deep work will you acknowledge yourself for?

Relax Into Innovation

Netflix did not invent movies, they innovated how you watch movies. Steve Jobs did not invent the phone, he innovated the phone. Jennifer Lee did not invent business plans, she innovated how they are created.

There is such an important difference between innovating and inventing. Knowing the difference can make the idea of innovation much less intimidating. And when the intimidation factor is reduced, you can relax into innovation.

When you think about it, you are all capable of innovation because, fundamentally, you are all creative. Whether simply solving a problem using something in a new way (like blending paint with baby wipes) or completely changing up how something is done (like building a viable visual business plan), you are tapping your creativity to come up with innovation.

What else do you do that is innovative? I know many of you will immediately jump to the response, “Nothing.” I’d like to challenge you to look at what you do more carefully and look at what you do that others might think is different or creative or unusual. There may be innovation awaiting discovery.

A great example for me is my Cool Stuff Jar. I’ve had a Cool Stuff Jar for decades and it is a natural part of my daily routine. Early on, I didn’t think of it as odd or unusual, it was totally normal for me and I assumed that everyone had something similar. However, when I showed it to an online audience at a Right-Brain Video Summit a few years ago they responded in a way that surprised me. I had to take a step back and look at the idea of my jar a bit more analytically. It was then that I realized that what I’d done was I’d taken a little step to the side and that the Cool Stuff Jar was an innovation.

As a creative, innovation is more natural to you and you may not even recognize when you’re being innovative because it feels so natural. I had no clue that my Cool Stuff Jar was unusual, and now it has turned into a best selling book, a whole new coaching program and a restructuring of my practice so I can focus on helping others live a Cool Stuff Jar life.

What are you doing or have you done that’s innovative? Do you have a different way of using creative materials? Are you known for delivering workshops with a fresh look at content? Do you have an unusual use of an everyday product? What do you do that no one else does?

Once you’ve taken a look and identified a few things that you do differently, the first thing you need to do is celebrate your creative side. Give yourself a pat on the back and let your confidence go up a couple notches… you’ve earned it.

The second thing you need to do is think about how you can continue to enhance and strengthen your creative muscles. You can incorporate creative exercises into your daily routine, do an online challenge, join a group, whatever suits you. The idea is to make sure you’re continuously training your creative brain. The reason is not just because it’s fun, but because it puts you in that remarkable space where you are more open to relaxing into innovation.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ International bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

Where Is Off?

calendar

I was at a presentation not long ago and the speaker asked attendees to turn off their mobile devices. One of the attendees leaned over to his friend and said, “There are so many options anymore that I can’t find Off!”

Has that ever happened to you? You find yourself going to your device for one thing and 45 minutes later you lift up your head and realize that you are miles from where you started and you barely remember what it was that you first came in to look for.

There are so many options, distractions, pop ups and rabbit holes that assault you every time you log on. Your attention is diverted constantly and you find that it is really hard to stay on task.

People say your attention span is getting shorter.

I don’t think your attention span is getting shorter. I think you’re letting someone tell you that your attention span is getting shorter and that you’re accepting this as a fact.

What is really happening is that you’re developing the bad habit of not making yourself focus for any length of time. You’ve gotten lazy. You’ve let people tell you that you can’t, so you don’t.

This is particularly troubling because it means you’ve given away your power to think beyond the superficial and, more importantly, to think independently and creatively. What you should do is choose to spend some time intentionally developing your brain’s massive power.

Your brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised to stay healthy. When you do not go beneath the surface and exercise your critical thinking abilities, your brain atrophies. When you blindly accept what you’re fed as the truth, and do not apply independent thought, your brain atrophies. When you do not bother to flex your creative muscles, your brain atrophies.

The ability to discern what’s important to the task at hand and what’s complete fluff is the skill you need to be developing, not the ability to jump like a flea from stimulus to stimulus without delving deeper. The ability to take an idea and fully explore it from multiple perspectives is what you need to be developing. The ability to find creative solutions to problems is what you should be developing.

The quickest way to do all this is to find the Off button … and use it!

When you do it’s like lifting your head up out of a fog. You open your eyes and reorient yourself to where you are sitting or standing, to the sounds and smells around you. To what’s going on around you and where you fit in.

Making a habit of regularly finding the Off button allows you not just to maintain your sanity, but to immerse yourself in the sheer joy of being able to think clearly each day.

So don’t settle for the status quo and don’t let someone else determine what you and your brain are capable of. Prove them wrong by turning off your device, then fully engaging in whatever the task at hand is. You’ll find that you will engage your brain in critical thinking, you will have independent thought and you will spark your imagination and your creativity.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele. Cass’ book, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, will be out at the end of the month! Keep tabs on the book launch by liking her page on Facebook!

A New Normal

calendar

It’s a very exciting time for me right now as my book is to be published in a few short weeks! Yippee! I’ve been laser focused on this project for a while and now I’ve got to shift back into my regular business operations… or do I?

When you’re fully immersed in a big project, you naturally exclude other things from your field of vision in order to get the project done. This is great as it can really help you get your priorities straight. Then it’s easy to clear your plate of the things that really are not important or can be done by someone else.

That being said, sometimes it’s a challenge as you try to get back in to the normal swing of things. You might forget what was next on the to do list, you might find your priorities have significantly changed, you might even forget what your life was like before the project. The thing to remember is, all you’re doing is adjusting to a new normal.

When the manuscript went off to the book designer and while I await the proofs to make final tweaks, I have to get back into the rhythm of my business. The thing is, it’s all different now. I’ve made changes in my coaching practice, I’ve added new workshops, I’ve added retreats, I’ve changed my priorities and I find myself looking at a whole new way of making a living. I certainly did not expect this when I decided to make the push to finish the manuscript and get this puppy published.

When you think about it, you adapt to changes routinely as a human being. You are in a constant state of flux with everything from the way you think about things to simply responding to the weather. What happens is you adapt naturally and don’t really notice that you’re changing. However, when a change is triggered by something big, like a job change, a new baby or moving to a new location, you tend to notice that your behavior is different. It feels like you’re looking at the world through different lenses.

This is the opportunity to pay really close attention to what will become your new normal. After all, you are in charge of you. You are in charge of how you think and how you feel. You get to choose how you respond and what you decide is important now, what can slide off the plate. What a great opportunity to start fresh!

Naturally, when you adapt to a new normal it affects those around you like your clients, colleagues, friends and family. You should be aware that while you may be well down the road to adapting to a new normal, they need to go through the same process of adapting to a new you.

The next time you feel yourself going through a change, remember that you are in charge… what will you choose to create as your new normal?

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

What Will I Do Differently?

calendar

It’s that time of year, time for setting your goals for 2018.

I have a little different take on goal setting. I think it’s very important to have a carefully chosen target that challenges you. However, I know that simply setting a goal won’t get you anywhere new. What you need is not just something inspiring to go after, but a clear process to get you there and to help you sustain your enthusiasm as the weeks and months roll by. Also, in order to improve your odds of success, you need to ask yourself a key question: “What will I do differently?”

Setting a goal implies that you are going to make a change, or a multitude of changes. When you do that, you have to figure out what you will do differently to move toward your new target. Are you changing the way you do business? Are you changing the way you live? Are you changing the way you interact with others?

All of these questions are big questions and each requires you to face the harsh reality of needing to make changes. Most people tend to dig in and resist change. Why? Because change means entering the realm of the unknown. And that can be scary.

Let’s say your goal is to offer a workshop in the summer. You know that you have great information to deliver that would benefit lots of people. You also know that it takes a lot of work and energy to put together a new workshop. Then you start thinking about some important considerations: How to best design the workshop? How to get the graphics done? How to market it? How to price it? And you enter the realm of the unknown.

Rather than let yourself stall because it becomes “hard” and you do not have all the answers, stop and ask yourself, “What will I do differently?” Will you hire someone with the expertise in curriculum design, graphics or marketing? Will you engage an assistant to handle all the logistics? Or will you simply decide to knock it out yourself?

Whatever method you choose, you will still need to follow the process of breaking the project down in to smaller tasks and breaking those tasks down into manageable action steps.

When you break the project down into bite sized pieces, give those pieces an appropriate place on your calendar (yes, I mean a deadline). Then, assign those pieces to the appropriate people. Once you do that, you will have a map that shows you how you can get to your goal.

But your work is not complete when your beautiful map is complete. The next thing to do is to take the first step… then the second, then the third, and so on. As a business coach, I know many of you are great planners. I also know that many of you have no problem starting down the path, but you get hung up before you’ve gotten very far down the path.

When that urge to quit or to jump ship hits you, stop and ask yourself, “What will I do differently?” Of course you have to assess your progress along the way and make adjustments, but, ultimately, you need to stay focused on your target and keep moving toward it. Will you exercise some self-discipline and keep moving? Will you get some help to get you through to the next step? Will you just put on some blinders and plow ahead with your eyes intently focused on the goal?

The bottom line here, whether this is a brand new goal or a goal you may have had before, but you’ve never followed through on, you’re going to need to make a change. So, to improve your odds of success, ask yourself, “What will I do differently?”

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

Honoring your year through reflection and ritual – a sacred and softer way to celebrate inner success

As we near the end of 2017, it’s a great time to reflect on all that’s happened. Being the creative person I am, I crave artistic rituals that help me authentically honor my experiences. I thought I’d invite you into my process this year to help give you some ideas, especially if you’re looking for a ritual that focuses on your internal process and successes rather than the extrinsic rewards we’re conditioned to strive for.

Since 2008 I’ve made a fun Year-in-Review Exploding Box – a fantastic (and flamboyant!) visual structure for celebrating your year, especially if you’ve had an “explosive” year full of exciting milestones. I’ve loved it as a way to capture many of my “external” accomplishments over the years. I’ll share a link below.

2017, however, has been a much more introspective both by design and by circumstance. I experienced several losses, including the devastating loss of my dad to cancer. I also let go of a program I ran for years to proactively invite more spaciousness and simplicity into my work. I got booted out of my beloved studio when the building got bought, which meant I lost my creative sanctuary where I was painting through my grief.

While these and other losses this year have been challenging and some quite painful, they’ve also brought some relief, and much growth and transformation. I knew my ritual needed to honor not only my losses but also the gifts that are blooming as I let go and consciously shed old ways. I also wanted it to be organic to symbolize life’s impermanence.

Loss and Letting Go Leaves

I found a branch on the ground that was the perfect form and size for what I’d been envisioning. It’s like it was waiting there just for me! Then I picked a few fresh leaves from a tree for my “letting go” leaves.

I punched the fresh leaves with a special shaped paper punch to create smaller leaves. Then on each leaf I wrote something I’d lost or let go of this year.

Next, I used a needle and thread to tie each leaf to the branch.

I spent some time journaling about the losses, what I’ve learned from them, and how they’ve helped to change me.

I’ve been letting the leaves dry and at the very end of the year I plan to let them go in a ceremony out in my yard so they can return to the earth.

Blooming and Becoming Blossoms

Next, I punched out pink and yellow blossoms from construction paper using a flower shaped punch. On each blossom I wrote what has grown out of shedding old ways or a gift from loss – intangibles like: ease, self-compassion, simplicity, exquisite self-care, deeper relationships plus tangibles like: awesome VIP clients, online licensing, leveraging existing resources, and learning to play the ukulele ;).

Then I strung blossoms together with yarn and tied them to the branches near the losses they related to.

It’s been so helpful for me to see how letting things go creates room for new things to bloom and to journal about what I’m learning and what I’m opening up to.

Once I let the loss leaves go, I’ll keep the branch with the blossoms to remind me of who I am becoming.

Prompts for your own end of year reflection

What ritual will you create to reflect on your year? What losses are important to acknowledge? What outer success will you celebrate? What inner successes are blooming? And most importantly, who are you becoming?

Think of metaphor or symbol that would honor your experiences and accomplishments. Perhaps something like what I’ve described here will inspire you to lovingly witness your inner journey. Or if you want something to celebrate a bold and big year, check out my Exploding Box Year-in-Review video class.

Here’s to a wonderful new year!

Featured in:
The Right-Brain Business Plan®

The Right-Brain Business Plan®