Embracing your creative potential: a guide inspired by Cat Hase’s story

Close up hand of young woman with pen writing on notebook at a river.

In this feature as part of International Women’s Day, Cat Hase explores what creativity can bring to your work and personal development

Would you call yourself creative? It’s a question that, unfortunately, far too many people answer with a “no.” But let’s pause and ask ourselves: What is creativity? Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. It’s about seeing what’s inside us and harnessing it as it’s intended – not just in art, but in life.

But creativity isn’t just about art. Artistic forms of creativity (art, poetry, music) are one side of the puzzle. The other side? Quite literally the puzzle itself: creative thinking.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Whilst Cat would happily claim to be creative, there was a time when she struggled to claim a small part of that creative identity.

Let Cat share a story with you.

“Looking for an artist who can ……..” read the tweet. A friend had tagged Cat in it, and her first response was “I’m not an artist, it’s not for me”.

That’s honestly what she thought about herself despite having an art A-level and a design degree. Despite having her A-level artwork proudly displayed on the walls of her home. Despite the fact that the first two years of Cat’s business were mainly funded by her drawing for money. She still did not see herself as an artist.

Then a little voice whispered “…what if?…”

So, she responded saying she did ‘sketches’ and was open to explore it more, whilst not truly feeling confident in her artistic ability to create what was needed for the unknown project.

Without that little voice, Cat would have missed an amazing opportunity. One that would ultimately lead her to claim her badge as an artist and re-invigorate her artistic side for years to come.

The project itself was creating a Gratitude Challenge that would ultimately end up being shared all over the world, so Cat’s art went global. What started off as 10 prompts soon became 20 and kept growing until one day Cat said “This could be a card deck!” And so it did.

Valuable feedback

People loved Cat’s ‘sketches’ and shared their honest response to her images because they wanted to, not for any other reason. These people had no vested interest in saying something to make her feel good; they did it because they meant it. Over time, Cat came to accept that she was in fact an artist all along.

That’s the power of a stranger’s words at times. It can flip how we see ourselves completely. Once Cat had accepted being an artist, it opened up her creativity in all sorts of ways. Her artist journey has spiralled from there… her hunger for more and more art seems insatiable! Here’s just a few of the things Cat has done since then that you too might want to explore:

  • Cosmic Smashbooking – this helped her to work through some challenging topics in her life using journaling and art and honestly helped heal a few of the real biggies!

  • Neurographica – this helped her explore new topics and she found the process of drawing, rounding edges and colouring a wonderfully mindful activity.

  • Experimented with her own art style – working mainly on postcard sized paper with watercolour and black pens. She found these mini works of art a great way to keep her hands occupied in front of the tv, on a plane or when waiting for something or other. Much better than scrolling!!

Not everything Cat has created as part of this has been beautiful. Sometimes it doesn’t even get finished, but it’s all part of the process.

Beyond art: the spectrum of creativity

So many people tell Cat they aren’t creative. But creativity isn’t just about art. Artistic forms of creativity (art, poetry, music) are one side of the puzzle. The other side? Quite literally the puzzle itself: creative thinking.

Creative thinking encompasses things like problem-solving, idea generation, pattern spotting, and even collaboration and exploring different points of view. These are things we most likely do more often than we even realise, and by tweaking how you see creativity, you can tap into your own creativity far more easily and more often.

Cultivating creative thinking

Nurturing creative thinking in a productivity-focused world starts by embracing curiosity and the willingness to experiment, even in the smallest of ways. By doing so, we can uncover unique solutions to common problems, and perhaps more importantly, find joy and fulfilment in the process.

Consider how children approach problems and learning – with wonder and without fear of mistakes. They use their curiosity to play with new ideas or objects and interact with open minds. They don’t go in knowing the answer, they let the answer find them when it’s ready.

As adults, we often lose this perspective, but it’s never too late to reclaim it. Encouraging curiosity, asking “what if” questions, and allowing ourselves the freedom to fail are key steps in nurturing our creative thinking abilities.

Creativity isn’t a solitary journey

More often than not, our creativity can be enhanced by working with others. Whether this is for a common purpose, the act of helping each other, or ‘working alone together’ where you work on your own projects in the company of others, they all expand our creativity. Sharing and hearing ideas from other people can spark inspiration in you that you never would have dreamed up on your own – sometimes this is where the magic comes from.

Handwriting text writing Lets Chat on a post-it note on a desk with screwed up post it notes strewn all over.

Whilst we touched on the power of a stranger’s words earlier, there’s another group whose words can mean just as much; your inner network. These are the people who know you, your business, and your dreams. They are the people who want you to succeed just as much as you want them to. The business besties, cheerleaders, support squad, and advisory board, if you will.

These are powerful people in our worlds who help us push forward and grow as individuals and within our roles or businesses. They remind us of things we’ve forgotten about ourselves and highlight things we didn’t even realise until their words brought it to life. These people can help bring your creativity out, help it to shine, and in return, you’ll do the same for them.

A call to action: unleashing your creativity

Are you ready to flex that creative muscle? Here are a few steps to start tapping into your own creativity:

  • Set aside time for creative pursuits, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. This could be anything from doodling in a sketchbook to brainstorming solutions for a work-related problem.

  • Embrace a ‘beginner’s mindset’ when approaching new tasks or challenges. Let go of preconceptions and be open to learning and exploring.

  • Engage in activities that encourage lateral thinking and problem-solving, such as puzzles, games, or even improvisational classes.

  • Surround yourself with inspiration. This could be through books, art, music, or conversations with creative individuals whose work and mindset inspire you.

  • Embrace the journey ahead.

Which of these could you try over the coming week? What specifically will you do? Pause at times to reflect on what difference it is making to how you see your own creativity.

Sharing your creative journey

Creativity is not a destination but a journey—one that is uniquely personal and endlessly enriching. Whether through art, problem-solving, or collaboration, embracing our creative potential can lead to not only personal growth but also meaningful contributions to others.

pause, reflect, act concept - word abstract in vintage letterpress wood type printing blocks with a cup of coffee

As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, let’s remember the value of creativity and strive to cultivate it in all aspects of our lives. By doing so, we not only enrich our own lives but also inspire those around us to explore their own creative paths.

So, the next time you doubt your creativity, remember the journey that began with a simple “what if?” and embrace the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

Cat Hase is a Creativity Coach at her company Imagine If Limited

Cat Hase

Learn More →