The Dangers of Lowest Common Denominator Thinking

I think that much of the mire our world has fallen into is the result of lowest common denominator thinking.

For example, as an urban designer, I was disheartened by the watered down design plans we created in the name of community process.

All too often we allowed people’s fears, doubts, misapprehensions, and lack of knowledge to dictate the final outcome for the design of what could have otherwise been a gloriously beautiful urban space.

It was like each fear and each doubt pulled out a piece of what made it beautiful, section by section, until there was hardly anything left.

Yes, it’s true that it’s much easier to find a parking space in front of a strip mall than it is to find one on a small-scale street with lots of shops and overfull parallel parking. But which experience feeds your soul? Which one makes you want to stop the car and check out what everyone is looking at or try that cute little ice cream shop with the big line in front of it?

The Conversation

Similarly, when we plan our own lives, we allow our dreams to be watered down before we even give them the chance to be named. We don’t think, “Ooh, that’s interesting, I wonder how I could do that?” Or, “I wonder how can I take that idea to its highest level of expression?”

Instead we think, “There’s no way that will work. It’ll never happen. I won’t be able to make a living doing that.” That’s the default refrain we hear.

Take The Limiters Out of the Equation

It’s like we’re looking for the lowest common denominator solution first. We bring in the limiting criteria or dismiss alternatives way too early in the process, rather than giving ourselves the chance to Dream Big and imagine what’s possible.

And we do this in so many areas of our lives. We allow fear to dictate the way we birth babies, raise children, run our organizations, deal with politics, grow our food, take care of our planet, choose our careers, and so much more. Are we really only here to cover our butts, pay our bills, live in urban jungles, and just “get by”?

I don’t think so.

Each one of us, EVERY one of us, has a higher calling to fulfill. We have a purpose, a passion, a raison d’être. We simply have to allow ourselves the time and space to find our way to what it is that we were put here to do, and to design — in its full, glorious potential — what that is going to look like.



If you aren’t clear on your life purpose — what you were put here to do — I hope you’ll consider joining me for my upcoming Claim Your Calling life purpose and essential self workshop intensive coming up on March 4th. Early registration (save 25%) 797ends February 11th (this Friday). Details.



Big Dream Actioneering

I’ll be posting about my Big Dream action steps this Friday, and I hope you’ll join me to celebrate your progress as well.



What’s Jenna Up To?

~> NEW DATE: March 4, 2011. Virtual Workshop: Claim Your Calling: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Details. Early registration ends February 11th — Save 25% when you register by this Friday.

Isolation Is a Dream Killer

One of the participants at my recent Voice Your Vision retreat shared this powerful quote from Barbara Sher, “Isolation is a dream killer.”

Similarly, my teacher Sonia Choquette says, “You cannot do it alone.”

How true!

As a sensitive woman, mother, home-based business owner, spiritual coach, intuitive, hand analyst, and ready-to-take-the-world-by-storm creative writer, I can tell you that the hardest days are when I feel like I have no one to turn to and there’s no one else out there who gets who or where I am. Luckily, I’ve learned a few things about this along the way.

When it comes to making your dreams real, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Your nascent vision is like a tiny seedling. Plant it in fertile soil, water it, nurture it, and protect it. Don’t put it somewhere it could be trampled on. Share it only with your best supporters.

2. Get the right support from the right people. You must have “believing eyes” to witness your project into wholeness. Do not allow the naysayers and doubters to topple your tiny creation before it learns to stand on its own two feet.Get in touch with your supporters when you need them, and do the same for them. Make sure you have a balanced, equal exchange with people who are emotionally whole enough to truly be there for you.

3. Dream big or stay at home. Don’t hold back from your vision — go all the way with it. Push yourself to your creative edge. Ask, “How can I take this to its next greatest level of expression?” If you need help pushing yourself to that precipice,  you’re in the right place. You’ll be seeing more from me modeling this very, very soon (stay tuned!).

4. Don’t take your critics too seriously. Like most of us, you probably make the mistake of listening to criticism (from yourself or from other people) far too early in your creative process. Your inner critics are speaking from fear and doubt, and your outer critics are doing the same. Very often, your outer critics are simply projecting their own fear and excuses onto you. So take it with a grain of salt. And turn to your supporters to get you back on track when you make the mistake of listening to the wrong voice.

5. Trust yourself, first. So often you dismiss your greatest, deepest truths because you think they are too simple, too complicated, too unrealistic, etc. But if you simply allow yourself the permission to explore what your inner voice is telling you, miraculous things can happen. You may want and need to have your inner truths heard and witnessed before you’re willing to give ourselves that permission.

That’s where your supporters or coach come into play. Either way, sometimes allowing yourself to voice your vision to the right listeners is just the powerful kick-start you need to make your dream become a reality.

Did this spark anything for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

What’s Jenna Up To?

~> November 22nd, 2010. Leading a private in-person half-day retreat in Berkeley, California.

~> November 29th, 2010. Mark Your Calendar! My annual birthday sale is coming up — one day only. Details to be announced soon.

~> November 29th, 2010. Also on my birthday: Doing a photo shoot for my new website photos with the fabulous Lindsay Miller.

~> January 21st & 22nd, 2011. Voice Your Vision Mastermind Retreat. In-Person Workshop in Berkeley, California. Clarify your unique vision to implement your Life Purpose in a specific, step-by-step plan. FOUR SPOTS remaining. This small group retreat is perfect for you if you know your purpose but you’re wondering, “What’s next?” For details, send a blank email to: Early registration ends November 26th.

~> January 27th & 28th, 2011. Powerful Strategies to Slay Your Inner Critic Demons So You Can Leap Into the Creative Spotlight.” Appearing as a guest expert at Baeth Davis’s “Claim Your Spotlight” program in Los Angeles, California.

~> Spring 2011. Virtual Workshop: Claim Your Calling: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Dates to be announced shortly. Details:

6 Principles from a Creative Genius on Making Your Vision a Reality

I’ve recently been obsessed with George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga and other blockbuster films, which has led to all sorts of interesting reading and web exploration. Many people seem to believe Lucas has gone over to the “Dark Side” himself, only “in it for the money” with his projects (we’ll have to talk about that another time), but I’ve always found him to be an inspiring visionary.

Here’s why I’m interested: I believe that we can learn from successful, creative geniuses about how to bring our dreams to fruition.

I recently re-watched a documentary about the making of the original Star Wars trilogy. The insider’s look at the creation of a grand vision is utterly compelling.

What I love about watching George Lucas in action — particularly the George of the 1976 Star Wars production era — is seeing his absolute dedication and unshakable commitment to the creation of his art, his way.

Again and again, he steered clear of involvement with the Hollywood studios as much as he could (particularly later in the film series), and found ways to maintain his independence, like retaining merchandising rights (even when it wasn’t clear there would be a popular market for the merchandise).

He worked and reworked his script to be as precise as possible and checked and rechecked his story themes to make sure he was conveying the powerful mythological messages and meanings he wanted to convey.

He repeatedly overcame what looked like insurmountable odds to bring his vision to reality. With the first film, schedules were massively delayed, props were malfunctioning, costumes and sets weren’t living up to his vision, budgets were falling by the way side, and the studio was threatening to pull the plug, but still he kept on.

Clearly, Lucas experienced his own hero’s journey to create his films, along the lines of the story he tells of Luke Skywalker facing his own shadow and obstacles, reaching deep within himself to grow and expand into who he is meant to be and what he is meant to do in the world.

So what is it that enables one creative visionary to succeed, where another might fail? What can we learn from George Lucas about how to make our own visions real?

Here are 6 principles I’ve gleaned from my studies of him so far:

1. If you can see it, it must be possible. People around Lucas would tell him that something couldn’t be done, and he’d say, “Don’t worry about how we’re going to do it.”

I’ve always believed that if I can see something, there has to be a way to create it, even if I can’t see how yet. That’s how I’ve taught myself so much of what I’ve learned, and created so much of what I’ve created.

Interestingly, many technological advances are first devised in science fiction circles — and then the scientists figure out how to make it so.

If you have a creative vision, treat it with sacred respect, trust it, and get to work.

2. Stay true to your vision. Repeatedly, the people who worked with him would say that Lucas’ vision and passion for the idea were what made it all possible. They were obviously in awe of his ability to hold the vision, even when they couldn’t see it themselves.

Are you clear on the big idea of your vision and ready to see it through to the end, even if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to get there?

Find what you LOVE about it, remind yourself WHY you’re doing it, and go for it. Passion and perseverance will carry you through.

3. Delegate. A true visionary enlists other talented, dedicated, and creative supporters to help him or her make a vision real. George Lucas repeatedly hired other directors, screen writers, and editors, for instance, despite having those skills himself, because he knew he couldn’t be in the trenches and hold the big vision.

4. Be a strong leader. Although the pressure was intense, Lucas never seemed to waver or give up. Powerful leadership requires an unshakable faith in purpose and direction. Be clear on yours and retain your independence. It’s YOUR vision after all.

5. Be flexible. At the same time, be flexible, and allow your team to support you.

One of Lucas’ directors, Irvin Kershner, disagreed with him on a key line (where Han Solo says, “I know” in response to Leia’s “I love you” in the second film). Lucas thought it was a mistake, but went with it for an early screening. The audience loved it and talked about endlessly — so George left it as it was. He was flexible.

6. Trust your feelings. The concept of “The Force” in the Star Wars saga is the thread that weaves together both a teaching from the films and from Lucas’ creative legacy. Lucas knows the importance of developing and mastering our own emotional intelligence. Clearly he has followed his own, time and again, despite obviously massive outside pressure to conform to various norms and expectations.

From my perspective, this is all about trusting your own inner wisdom, even if it doesn’t make sense on the surface.

After all, every Jedi master knows that our eyes can deceive us.

I’d love to hear about how or if this article has impacted you. Thanks for sharing your comments here on the blog, below.

What’s Jenna Up To?

~> Thursday, July 29, 2010, Jenna starts her Embrace Your Inner Wisdom teleclass series. Learn to work with one of your greatest gifts as a sensitive soul — your intuition. Regular registration opens soon. Watch this space for details.

~> August 2010. Jenna’s Give Voice to Your Inner Vision Mastermind Retreat. Clarify your unique vision to implement your Life Purpose in a specific, step-by-step plan. We’re in the process of finalizing the dates for this in-person retreat to be held here in Berkeley, California. Interested? Please contact Jenna’s team to be put on the mailing list for the program.