creative spirit

How to Make Space to Create, And Why It Matters

Pile of lego blocks. Photo courtesy Nenov Brothers Images/

Pile of lego blocks. Photo courtesy Nenov Brothers Images/

My children spend more time building with Lego than just about anything else. Almost always, what they make is surprising, unexpected, startlingly new.

I want to share some observations from when a totally different thing enters the picture: the Lego building challenges.

For days after they read about a new “challenge” (build a dream home, build some kind of robot, etc.) they’ll work and re-work a project and pester us to photograph them and worry about whether or not they’ll win. Here’s the surprising part:

When they are building for the contest — for that $100 gift card and their picture in the magazine — their creations are startlingly less creativeAll of a sudden, they are timid and anxious about their creations. Honestly, their for-contest work is always inferior to their regular work.

Why does this matter? Because I think it shows us something important about motivation and its effect on creativity.