“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams

Creative Mornings believes everyone is creative.

Now, there’s a global community to support those making the most of their creativity.

That’s the introductory message I heard at a recent event in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Brooklyn-based Creative Mornings lecture series currently gathers in 164 creative communities around the world.

Each month, attendees gather at free events that center around a central theme. With coffee mugs in tow, participants enjoy sponsored brew, breakfast and a specially selected guest lecturer.

Stepping into 3 Daughters Brewery in St. Petersburg, Florida, for this month’s “Moments” theme, I was shocked to find over 150 in attendance. Spearheading its second event, the chapter is obviously striking a magnetic chord in this artsy, downtown district.

An opening joke cited the multitude of unemployed millennials in attendance. A second remark, referencing the 8:30 am start time as “too early for others to get out of bed,” garnered a few laughs as well.

Despite wondering if I’d need to slip out some back door if the speaker drifted too far from my polite tastes (the headline topic read: Don’t F*** it Up!), I found worthy content and some solid life lessons awaiting.

Creative Morning’s Guest Lecturer Jimmy Breen

Jimmy Breen of Wax&Hive served as guest speaker, arriving on the scene to share his developmental story as creative director of tee shirts, mugs and more.

Breen initially appeared as a “cool guy,” but soon brought listeners along on a rocky journey to personal growth, professional refinement and commercial success as a creative.

Wax&Hive’s Jimmy Breen talks at St. Petersburg, Florida Creative Mornings

What have been your defining moments in life? Breen asked the group before stepping into tales of his own.

His first moment took place in middle school. After noticing a portrait of an Indian woman in the cellar, and then learning that his mom was the artist, Jimmy became inspired. He’d become an artist, too!

We learned the moment Jimmy bought a book called How to Draw Like Marvel Comics. He learned how to copy other artists’ design work, but experienced a second moment of creative disappointment. Jimmy might be able draw, but a fellow middle school classmate bested him: he was drawing dragons out of his own imagination.

During a high school moment, Jimmy and his friends started a band. They claimed to be great, but Jimmy noted they weren’t.

“You know when you’re not good,” he confessed, “when the only ones supporting you are family and friends.”

Another defining moment arrived when the band performed poorly at a local venue and lost money, but the tee shirts Jimmy designed for the event all sold out. He returned to art, developing tee shirts for several music clients.

Stories of defining moments continued, but Jimmy made sure each one connected with Creative Mornings listeners. We heard of mistakes he’d made, aha! moments he acquired, cash he’d earned and burned, relationships he bruised, broke and/or repaired, and decisions that are helping him harmonize a business with his personal values and priorities.

For example, Jimmy now contracts with an on-demand tee shirt printer in California. He makes less per shirt but no longer bears the financial pitfalls of carrying excess inventory. He also has more free time, saving on the extra manufacturing hours required to do print work in-house.

Breen might have arrived to talk about designing cool tee shirts and mugs. But his real value showed up in sharing the hardships, humility and mundane lessons he’d learned to gain mastery over his craft and profit for his commercial ventures.

Jimmy concluded with a few great take aways. Keep doing what you really love, stay committed to your craft and make it a priority, and never give up on your dream — even if you have to get burnished while achieving it.

I’m looking forward to this July. I’ll be getting together with Fabrizio Pagani, Creative Morning’s local chapter director, when he arranges a special coffee for us in Rome, Italy!

Wherever you are in the world, wishing for your creativity to emerge, too. 

Maura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Maura Sweeney in Foundations of Happiness