Kent Sanders | Unlock Your Creative Potential

Unlock Your Creative Potential

The Best Way to Spark Your Creativity

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One of the dangers of getting older is that you fall into routines that are predictable and boring. No matter what type of work you do—creative or otherwise—this is going to happen unless you take steps to prevent it.

If you’ve read my blog any amount of time, you know that I’m a full-time professor. No, I haven’t quit my job and have no plans to leave. But over the last couple of years I have transitioned to teaching hybrid courses, which means that we meet one day a week in person, and the rest of the course is online.

Last November, I started to explore substitute teaching as a way to spend these couple of open days per week. I went through the process of getting my substitute certificate and started subbing a few weeks ago. By and large, it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot about myself in a short amount of time. It’s also given me a much-needed creative spark.

Let me share what I’ve learned from subbing, and why you should seek out new experiences in your own life.

What I’ve Learned from Substitute Teaching

This new role as a sub has been all about the new. There are four aspects to this new venture that are helping me grow and learn.

New experiences. I’ve never taught in public schools before, and it’s quite a bit different than a small Christian college setting. Subbing has been full of things I haven’t experienced before, such as many more rules and procedures, learning to follow sub plans on the fly, dealing with younger students, and exposing myself to new subjects.

New people. I meet new people every time I sub—teachers, staff, students, sometimes administrators. Every time you meet a new person, it’s an opportunity to learn something new. For instance, I learned that two schools where I have subbed are major rivals (the North and South high schools in our district).

New situations. As as sub, I have to think on the fly much of the time. One of the most interesting experiences was when I showed up to a school on the wrong day. Instead of subbing for social studies as I expected, I ended up teaching a small group of special needs kids (with the help of paraprofessionals, who are my new heroes because of their patience and expertise). Just by virtue of being in that new situation, I was rewarded with a new experience I’d never had, and a new opportunity to learn something about myself.

New methods. I’ve been a college prof for eleven years, and I’ve been hungry to learn some new teaching methods and approaches. I’ve already learned a number of great tips from teachers of all ages, and I’ve excited to apply these to my teaching.

As you can see, all of these benefits have come as a result of simply being in a new situation.

The Value of a New Experience

I’ve heard it said, “Your life is perfectly engineered to produce the results you’re getting.” Basically, it means that if you want different results, you must have different input. The best way I know how to add a spark of creativity to your life is to seek out new experiences.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a part-time job. You could become a volunteer, join a mission trip, visit a museum, enroll in a course, build something, write a book, or create a work of art. The point is to intentionally put yourself in a situation that will shake up your routine and force you to learn something new.

You might say, “I like my life the way it is. I don’t need any new experiences.” It’s true that we need to accept ourselves and find joy in our current life situation. However, we must also strive to become the best version of ourselves. Gaining some new experiences is a great way to spark your creative life and become a better you.

For me, getting out into real-life situations through substitute teaching has been vital. I believe the same is true for you. It’s important to get away from our computers and devices on a regular basis, put ourselves in new and interesting situations, and meet some new people. Yes, it’s a risk, but it’s one worth taking.

I’d love to hear what kinds of new experiences you have been enjoyed lately. Share in the comments below!

Photo: Unsplash

About Kent Sanders

I help people unlock their God-given creative potential. I live with my wife and son in St. Peters, MO. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube.

  • Just Me

    Hi Kent – I appreciate this article that you’ve written so much. I’ve been thinking about doing something called Toastmasters for a few weeks and I’m about to go check out my first meeting tonight in the effort to put myself in a new situation and try something new. I’ve been in quite the rut and this was something that spoke to me. So I’m going to follow that little voice of intuition and give it a try even though it would be way more comfortable to stay home and watch Outlander. 🙂

    • Hi Just Me — thanks for your comment. I’m so glad this has been helpful in getting you to think about trying something new. I would love to hear how it goes! I have been considering doing more speaking, and you have encouraged me to check out Toastmasters myself. 🙂

  • Cary Braggs

    Hello Brother Kent, I found myself shaking my head in agreement with the things you were saying about substitute teaching, because I started substitute teaching earlier this year. I enjoy going from school to school as you said meeting new people and having new experiences as well. I took this job to make a difference in the lives of youth and it also allows me the flexibility to pursue other goals I have. With this job God has given me the freedom to be successful in so many areas. I am experiencing many of the benefits you spoke of in your articles and I am excited to see where they take me. Thank you for sharing because I can add this to the list of things we have in common.

    • Awesome, Cary – thanks for sharing this! Glad you are enjoying substitute teaching, as I am.