I can't begin to tell you how much this movie inspired me when I saw it.
And I didn't even want to watch it.
I was not what one would call, a number one brick fan.
Sure, I had a stash of bricks, who doesn't (apparently a LEGO® fact I found from the internet is that there are about 62 LEGO bricks for each person in the world).
But honestly, I dreaded when the children I saw in my psychotherapy practice chose LEGO as their play therapy toy of choice.
That meant I got to pretend to enjoy “playing” with the bricks and that I would build along either making a house or a car. That was literally the extent of my creativity with the bricks.
So, even though my husband told me The LEGO movie was really good and had great reviews, I was still dreading it, but sometimes you just have to go along with your spouse’s movie choices.
And I was blown away.
Because the piece of LEGO (pun intended) I had been missing was THE STORY:
The story of creativity and creating new freedoms and new connections in your life.
The story of letting go of perfectionism and embracing imagination and play.
I was INSPIRED.
And that, coupled with a timely podcast find by Note to Self about how free play with LEGO bricks has been shown to increase your creativity (you can check out that podcast here), and I just knew I wanted to make an online course about this magic power of the bricks I had only just discovered.
And yet, I'd never actually experienced it myself.
I knew it would make such an amazing e-course, but I realized that I can’t teach about something I’ve only experienced in my mind.
Hello, LEGO is an experiential toy, sorry “highly sophisticated interlocking brick system,” to quote the father from The LEGO Movie.
So, then the idea came that I could do an experiment.
Yes, I would do a yearlong experiment and make a free play build out of bricks every day for a year.
366 days to be exact since 2016 was a leap year, lucky me!
And I would post a picture of each day's creation to Instagram.
And I did it.
And it worked.
Creativity abounded in all the elements of creativity: fluency, originality, elaboration, abstractness and resistance to closure (taken from Jen Lara’s Be Creative Blog Series).
And I made my e-course to help others be able to experience all the benefits I found from playing with the bricks for a year.
Unblocking Your Creative Magic is an 8-week e-course using the medium of bricks to discover and cultivate your creative voice, passion, playfulness, intuition, self-trust, vulnerability, courage, and imagination.
And my life has continued to become more and more creative and courageous.
I thank Brené Brown (I’ve been one of her Certified Daring Way™ Facilitators since 2014) for re-awakening my creativity so I would even be open to this outrageous idea when it came along.
It was in her online course, The Gifts of Imperfection, in 2013 (now an OWN Life Class), that I was reminded that “I am a creative being,” a mantra we were to make into a poster.
That one exercise reminded me of my true nature, as a creator, as we all are.
That’s why my course is called UnBLOCKing Your Creative Magic, it’s already inside of each of us, just sometimes things get in the way.
So, as I was re-watching The LEGO Movie recently, while sorting my bricks for an upcoming presentation on creativity and LEGO for other Certified Daring Way™ Facilitators, I was struck by a few things from the movie about the creative process now that I'm almost a year away from my experiment:
1. Having an open mind, or being a beginner, is a creative strength.
The character Emmet was not a master builder.
And I love that because it’s just so relatable.
I would say, even though I had familiarity with bricks, I was most definitely a beginner and they were mostly an unknown medium for me as far as creative potential went.
I too, like Emmet, just followed the instructions, or built my un-creative house or car if forced to free play.
I had no clue how certain pieces worked or were originally intended to connect.
I could totally relate when the characters in the movie needed something round for a missing wheel and Emmet ended up using his head, since it was round, to fill in.
I was using pieces in all kinds of strange ways because I didn't know any other way or what “master builders” would have used to create a similar concept.
And that actually worked.
I think it made it better to not know "the right way."
It allowed me to view it as a medium, to expand it.
I did not know that LEGO® Serious Play®, a methodology “designed to enhance innovation and business performance”existed until one of my participants in the UnBLOCKing Your Creative Magic E-Course told me they saw a workshop about it.
I got to attend a workshop on it recently and the facilitator Blaine, of UnBlocked LLC, told me he had never seen anyone just put a piece unattached on another piece, and that he loved it.
That cracked me up because as I told him, that's just what I did sometimes because I didn't know how to attach things but wanted to have a final piece, and since I was just going to be taking the creation apart once I took a photo of it to document my experiment on social media, it didn’t really matter if it fully connected.
So in reality, not knowing is useful, and can lead you to be more creative than you might think.
Or as we see in the movie, it is the "ideas so dumb and useless that no one would ever think they could be useful,” that just might end up saving the world.
2. Even when you think you don’t know what you are doing, creativity is built in, trust yourself.
The master builder Vitruvius says in the movie that to become a master builder you must, “Number one, trust your instincts."
There is never a second step given as far as I noticed.
And anyone can do that!
I still remember writing in my weekly blog I kept about my experiment as it was unfolding that I was an aspiring master builder.
I jokingly wrote that and never expected to actually become one.
But today I am a second-place master builder (true story, I won second place in the master build final competition at Brick Fiesta 2017 in Dallas).
And it’s because I did trust my instincts.
My instincts were to do what I had done every day for a year with the bricks, to use them as a way to process my daily experience, and so I won by building a replica of my experience at Brick Fiesta.
I didn’t realize at first that was what was happening when I was free building during the year. I was just picking pieces that spoke to me in that moment and connecting them, but often times ideas would then come to me while I was just playing and building, as they do.
And I would come to discover that many times the creations I built would tell me a lot about my mood and feelings and reflect my state and inspirations and experiences.
Basically, it was a daily 3D art journal.
Even when I didn’t think I would end up making anything, creativity always came through in one way or another, because creativity is an inside job.
Lee Ann Hilbrich (she/her) is an author of three books, a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator of Brené Brown's work, a Qi Gong and Yoga Teacher, and a SoulCollage® Facilitator. She is also certified in Equine-Facilitated Learning. Learning.
Lee Ann Hilbrich, MA, LPC, CDWF, RYT 200
Daring Discoveries abides by the Brené Brown Education and Research Group's Belonging Statement (Click Here to View) and is committed to inclusivity, equity, diversity, and belonging.