Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kaizen Muse-An Interview With Jill Badonsky

Today's entry is the second in my planned series of interviews with people who are interested in the phenomenon of creativity, and how to foster and nourish it. I discovered JILL BADONSKY online, and was intrigued by her blend of humor, whimsy, intuitive acumen, and belief in the workings of process. As a creative consultant and coach, she authors helpful books and websites, including her Kaizen Muse ("kaizen" is a Japanese word meaning "continuous improvement in small steps"), The Muse Is In and The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder (which is also the name of her most recent publication). I thought I could learn something if I checked her out. Interesting, how we all come to a similar place from our many different directions... Here are Jill's responses to my interview questions:

PERSIST: THE BLOG: How did you get involved in creativity coaching?

JILL: I started researching creativity in the early 80s because I just seemed electrically fascinated and drawn to the creative process. I was an occupational therapist in psychiatry using creativity to help people express their needs and conflicts, find their self-esteem and develop the skills that come from being engaged in a creative process. Eventually, I applied my creativity to the corporate world which ended up in a lot of promotions and the feeling that I had sold my soul for values I did not believe in. I left the corporate world and joined an improv comedy troupe. I also wrote magazine articles and started to teach writing classes and The Artist's Way.

Then one day, I needed life coaching because I was writing a one-woman-play and was not finding the discipline to complete it. I noticed that the life coach I was seeing was blocking me. She prescribed non-linear, high pressure, left brain strategies to my right brain process that just wanted to play and be relaxed. She became the authority figure I rebelled against - a common response in the creative process. I just felt more resistant.

At that point I wondered how many creative souls were getting blocked by hiring life coaches. Around the same time, someone from one of my creativity workshops asked me to coach her and with the audacity required to be a ready-fire-aim entrepreneur I said yes. While coaching her I felt this out-of-body experience that validated that, "Holy A-ha! I'm in my bliss." and I started following it until I designed and started teaching Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching. It's been expanding and taking on a life of its own since 2004.

PTB: How long have you been at it?

JB: I would like to think my experience as an expressive therapist was the beginning of growing my creativity coaching expertise and that's been since 1980. I've been actively coaching people since 1997, wrote a book on the creative process (The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard): 10 Guides to Creative Inspiration) which was published in 2003 and started training coaches in 2004.

PTB: Are you an artist yourself (I use the word generically: writer, musician, actor, dancer...); and was it your experience as such that led you into this endeavor?

JB: Yes. I write poetry, articles, books, plays and captions for the watercolor illustrations I do. My second book, The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder has over 400 of my illustrations in it. I'm also a multi-media performer and storyteller and am now working on animating my illustrations. My love for the creative process in all its forms and expressions leads me into this endeavor; but being an artist myself, I know first hand what it's like to be blocked and what it's like to flow effortlessly into the timeless bliss of this higher human sphere of being able to be a creator.

I believe we are all artists of being alive. We have a palette of thoughts to choose from daily that paints what our existence looks like and feels like.

PTB: You have an impressive number of special qualifications and degrees. To what extent are these important and necessary to your work?

JB: I think the summation of my training and experience as an occupational therapist specializing in psychology, Masters Degree graduate in Educational Media and Instructional Design, a program director, a marketing consultant, a certified instructor in Guided Imageries has all led to being able to design and teach Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching. But the most important part has been my passion and my unrelenting need to share all that I have learned and experienced.

PTB: Given those qualifications, to what extent does your work with artists involve "therapy"--for want of a better word--or personal counseling, as opposed to professional counseling?

JB: What I do is not counseling at all, it's coaching, consulting, and facilitating strengths. The people we accept for creativity coaching are coming from a predominantly healthy place; they are blocked by procrastination, typical fears, perfectionism, overwhelm, low self-confidence, self-sabotage and in some cases the mild depression that comes from feeling frustrated about not finding the time or manner with which to engage in their creativity.

In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching we focus more on strengths than weaknesses. We trigger people's resources and rarely go back to the past except to identify patterns, origins of negative self-talk, experiences that created detours AND to summon past success experiences so that fuel can be used in the present.

PTB: What rewards do you look for from your work? Which of these mean the most to you?

JB: I don't feel like I look for rewards. I feel like I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do and the rewards arrive on their own. Hearing people say that their life has changed because they are learning how to use tools that shift them from victim to creative champion is prosperity in and of itself. Just talking about the creative process with another person is a form of bliss to me because it is such a juicy and exalted part of our existence.

PTB: What can an artist expect to gain from working with you? Are you concerned to help them with greater exposure?

JB: Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching gives artists the tools they need to overcome all of the creative blocks they experience and to be aware of where they are already soaring but are unable to see it.

There are ten Kaizen-Muse Tools and since 2004 we have received so many letters and emails about how these tools have returned people to their own authenticity, have helped them foil procrastination and perfectionism, dissolved overwhelm and self-sabotage and helped them discover their power and inspired genius in an often unpredictable and chaotic process.

Greater exposure comes as a result of what we do but our main concern is that they enjoy the process and use the tools in a way that feels intuitively right. Too much emphasis on exposure seems to add the pressure that blocks people. Joy in the process, play, awareness of creative dynamics, following intuition and letting go of rigid expectations about results seem to end up with a non-linear acquisition of success in more ways than was initially expected.

PTB: Do you have any thoughts about the burgeoning competition in this line of work?

JB: What other people are doing is really none of my business. Comparison in the creative process is unnecessary and can be toxic. There is enough business for all of us out there and if we are staying true to our own inspiration, it will be a beautiful balance of what the world needs. Others are moving beside me not ahead of me or instead of me. The world is a better place when people are in touch with their creative joy.

Amen to that! I too believe that the world is a better place when creative people have the freedom and the inner resources to get on with their work. Where would we be without the human imagination? We would certainly lack the technology that facilitates our work! The light bulb is more than a metaphor...

My warm thanks to Jill for generously taking me up on this. I hope you have learned as much from her as I have.

Visit for more biographical information on Jill and her work as well as information on her books The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard): 10 Guides to Creative Inspiration for Artists, Poets, Lovers and Other Mortals Wanting to Live a Dazzling Existence and The Awe-Manac: A Dose of Daily Wonder.

1 comment:

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