How to Be More Creative, Innovative and Confident in Five Words

by Alli Polin on November 21, 2017

be more creative

Over the years, I’ve coached senior executives, led workshops for leaders at all levels and most recently ran a leadership program for 5th graders at a local primary school. While the complexity of their lives and responsibilities varied widely, some of the core issues that emerged were common

Everyone was a little afraid that they were doing “it” wrong and would be caught. Each one held back on how far they’d unleash their creativity. All also desperately wanted a pat on the back when they did it right and stayed within the known parameters for success.

In one of my early workshop sessions at the primary school, child after child came up to me and asked for a new piece of paper for their notes. They messed up, wrote too big, or drew a diagram that took up too much space. In general, their paper didn’t look the example I held up in front of the classroom. 

I told them it looked fine to me and encouraged them to use all the space, write around the edges; make it meaningful to them, not me. They seemed unsure, and some of them sneaked clean sheets when they thought I wasn’t looking. 

At the beginning of the next week’s lesson, I started with five words that changed everything. 

“You can’t do it wrong.”

I repeated myself and walked around the room.

I looked each child in the eye. 

“You can’t do it wrong.”

That lesson, I saw some of the most creative output from the group than I’d seen in weeks. 

I’ll bet you feel the weight of doing it wrong. People depend on you, look up to you and need you to be right. 

The thing is, when you feel that constant pressure to be right, you start to play small. You can’t take big chances when being right is the goal and the only measure of success

When you’re creative and innovative, and at your best, there is no wrong. It’s all new, all unexplored and all an adventure. In this place, this mindset, every flop is information, not failure. 

When I was an actress, I had auditions where I tried to be the character that I thought the director was looking for, yet didn’t get cast time and time again. When I finally made bold choices that felt uncomfortable and crazy, there were times I still didn’t get cast, but then I finally did time and time again.

Maybe my early auditions were wrong, and I got a pass, but they were also right because they led me to let go. Without those wrong turns, I would never have unleashed all that was within me. 

Your turn. Ready to be more creative, innovative and confident? Start here. 

Tonight, when you’re alone in the bathroom after you’ve brushed your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror and speak these five words aloud: 

“You can’t do it wrong.”

If you want five more, try:

“I know what to do.”

“I can figure it out.”

“I am creative and resourceful.”

“I won’t hold back now.”

Don’t feel silly. You’re the only person in the room. After all, there is no instructor in the front of the room looking you in the eye and telling you what you need to hear. 

We all want to be successful, and we all want to get it right. What’s wrong with being wrong? Every wrong turn takes you closer to finding your way to where you’re meant to go.

Break the Frame Action:

If you know someone who needs to hear these five words, tell them. Do it today or tomorrow at the latest. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Maybe they’re on your team, your child or best friend. We can all benefit from someone looking us in the eye to remind us of the lesson too quickly forgotten. 

Do you want to be known a person who is always right or a person who dives in with confidence and creativity? The choice is yours… you can’t do it wrong. 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri Klass November 21, 2017 at 9:17 am

I love these five words- ” you can’t do it wrong.” When I am feeling as if I am unsure about a new challenge I will definitely use these words. They are so empowering and actually take the burden off of failure.

I also look in the mirror when faced with uncertainty and say:” You have been in worse situations. You got this.”

Thanks Alli and will share your insightful words today!


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ November 21, 2017 at 10:04 am

WOW .. Great post Alli. So full of uplift, momentum, challenge, honesty. I mean, you had me at the title!

How about …
“I am full of talent.”
“I have only just begun.”
“Nothing can stop me now.”
“Nothing can break my stride.” (Like the song, Break My Stride.”

Ooh … I can’t stop! This would be a great team building exercise to do with a demoralized team.

Will share this article far and wide.

And as we head into Thanksgiving here in America, thank you for your inspirational posts.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™


LaRae Quy November 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

I love this: “When you’re creative and innovative, and at your best, there is no wrong. It’s all new, all unexplored and all an adventure. In this place, this mindset, every flop is information, not failure.” If only more people would look at flops like this, it would take the pressure off of constant performance. We do not give ourselves permission to fail and that inhibits our growth…P.S. sounds as though you’d make an awesome teacher!


John Bennett November 22, 2017 at 11:54 am

Love this quote: “In this place, this mindset, every flop is information, not failure.“ And I’d add: “If you don’t have failures, you’re cheating yourself and the situations you’re addressing!!!”

Your advice to the young students is on target. Aligned with “Full Steam Ahead” by Blanchard and Stoner and their incredible notion of visions, all learners need to have a meaningful useful mission or purpose. There is nothing meaningful or useful TO THE LEARNER associated with copying procedure(s) ‘because it’s offered’ or worse: teacher imposed!!!


Brian Smith November 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

G00d stuff – Love the self-talk “I can’t do it wrong”. Take on a new adventure – Swing to the outer fences – Give it one more try. Like Kate said – this would make a great team building exercise.


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