The Creativity Myth

20 September 2011

I feel like one of the biggest mistakes we as people make, is to lock people into the ‘creative’ or ‘uncreative’ box. It’s very easy to stereotype a guitarist as ‘creative’ and an accountant as ‘not creative’. We look at a photographer or someone who dresses with a bit more eccentricity and say, ‘they’re so creative’. Meanwhile, we look at someone who works with spreadsheets or teaches 4 year olds and without thinking we class them as not quite as creative as our friend who designs t shirts. As is often the case, appearances can be deceiving.

Being a brilliant guitarist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a creative genius, it may just mean you can move your fingers really fast.

The creativity myth is vicious and robs a lot of people from achieving their creative potential. The truth is, we have all been made in the likeness of a creative God. Having been cast in His image, we possess vast amounts of creative potential. It’s just that some of us have learnt to access it with greater ease.

Sometimes the most creative people are the ones who intuitively use imagination to find a better system to process customer orders, or a great way to potty train your toddler, or a way to bring together 6 flatmates and rent out the best house on your block, or a way to manage your boss’s travel calendar, or a way to get your connect group to all contribute when discussion time rolls around. Some of the most creative people I know run gyms, emergency rooms, and work in property management.

For some people, it comes really easy… for the rest of us, creativity is like a muscle, meaning it can, and must, be developed through frequent use. Here’s a few practical tips I’m constantly trying to apply.

Be aware.

Opportunities really are everywhere. Inspiration is there for the taking, it’s more a matter of noticing it. Being engaged with your surroundings is critical. The importance of having an inquisitive attitude cannot be overstated. How often have you overlooked the obvious solution because it was, well, obvious? If you’re like me, probably too often. I’m inspired by one of my friends who sees colors so vividly, that they become images and slogans – while I’m still trying to find a name for the color. Today, try to be curious about what you know is around you and watch the ideas follow.

Be flexible.

Creativity rarely comes gift-wrapped. Often times it’ll mean diverting from your schedule or regular programming. Try changing a few little things today. I’m not saying ask for a transfer to Buenos Aires, what I am saying is maybe try a different journey on your commute home? Talk to your barista and ask what their favourite book is right now. Maybe even read a book yourself. Instead of reading a magazine at the supermarket counter, talk to the person in line behind you. Watch a documentary, a weird sport, get up early, eat new food… you get the idea.

Be in the box.

This is the most powerful one. Embrace constraints. Deadlines, budgets, technical limitations and building restraints are often times not the negatives you think they are. In fact, they provide a framework for you to work within that can draw real creativity out of you. Anyone can make a beautiful home with millions of dollars… doing it on a tight budget is what’s really impressive. I know in my own life, that when I have to find a solution with limited means available, my brain works harder, my creativity is stretched, and I am actually better for it.

You are creative. Now go and prove it.

GPK

Bonus Creative Team Night Video: