Photo by Arun Clarke on Unsplash

Cultivate motivation and performance through creative confidence

The words that come out of your mouth may squash someone’s dreams. They did mine for a long while.

Martin Uhnak
3 min readMay 24, 2021


Not too many people know this about me. I’m very passionate about certain things.

I’m passionate about creativity. About humanity, about empathy, about design, about respect, about energy, about art, about responsibility, ownership and leadership.

I weep sometimes. My wife had to get used to that. I weep when something speaks to me deeply. I weep when I watch a documentary about a phenomenal stage designer. And I wept when I heard professor Kelley talk about creative confidence.

He says that too many people lose this confidence while growing up. That most of us get shut off and shut out of trying, experimenting and creating new things.

“Oh, that’s terrible!”

Your friend, your boss, your mom tell you while or after you make something important to you. That one project you were so excited about while being so vulnerable exploring and making something new.

How many times has that happened to you?

Kanye West calls this losing the superman cape. And most still say he’s crazy, although he proves time after time to be one of the visionaries of our era. They all want to take away his cape.

You get hurt, you opt out of thinking of yourself as creative. You’re not the creative type. This sticks with you into the workplace. You’re divided into creative roles and practical roles. The practicals judge the creatives and the creatives resent the practicals.

David Kelley assures you can bridge this gap with his creative confidence exercises and actually reveal a path to self-efficacy — better performance, motivation, resilience and better health.

My call to action however is about the awareness of feedback we produce. I want you to be mindful of the way you impact the people around you. I want you to keep an eye on that blind spot we all have, the one that makes you think we know all that we need to know. I want you to cultivate a precise feedback culture.

Building and cultivating a precise feedback culture at home and at work is an asymmetric opportunity. It has almost no downside — watching yourself not to shoot down creative attempts; and unlimited upside — you may never know what comes out of a crazy idea.

Precise feedback is not about not expressing your subjective opinion, rather it’s about separating your opinion from the facts and objectives of the situation. When you’re about to voice evaluation, make sure you don’t communicate criticism. More on this topic in Thanks for the Feedback.

It seemed that I’ll never find the thing I’m passionate about. Although I was designing on the side of the many jobs I tried, I never allowed myself to dig deep into this career path.

For me, this judgemental environment postponed my path to self-efficacy by at least ten years. I always wanted to create but was discouraged again and again by the influences in my environment. Those voices crushed my creative confidence.

A great teacher then told me to follow this feeling of deep connection. The emotion that makes you cry, whatever that may be is the thing that you came here to do. For me it is the human connection in creativity, in design and art.

Don’t be the one to crush other people’s dreams with your careless speech.

Martin Uhnak is a product designer and creative director at Simplicity, the smart municipality platform.