Are you creative? Am I creative? Is she creative? Is he creative? Is anyone creative?
I’m not here to offer a definitive answer as to what being creative means, but what I will do is challenge the viewpoint that the word ‘creative’ only belongs to a select few that were born with a natural talent or gift. It is this line of thinking that has turned off the creative taps in so many people (myself included). What is even more concerning is that these viewpoints, perspectives, beliefs – whatever you call them – can feel like a ‘law’ that is not to be disputed or questioned without solid proof.
I spent years (many years) believing I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. I would say it started back at school in the form of mediocre art projects and not being picked for a part in the school play. I decided I wasn’t creative – and I kept on deciding right through to adulthood. I wasn’t creative – because I couldn’t ‘prove’ otherwise.
Unfortunately, when we carry around a self-imposed law like this it prevents us from even challenging the belief that we’re not creative – and that’s a tough law to break. But there really is no law as to who can claim to be creative and who cannot.
If I can’t produce physical proof that I am creative – in the form of a painting or a sculpture or a novel – does that mean my brain is lacking something that those who create such works of art have? It’s taken me quite a few years to answer this question – absolutely not!
Being creative is just a thought away – imagine that! How do I know this? Because I changed the way I thought about creativity and I changed the way I see creativity in others – I decided to “break the law”.
I love to write. However, my self-belief of not being creative meant I would only write as part of my profession – “all business” as they say. I would write consulting reports, financial reports, corporate presentations – and I would receive high praise for them. But I never associated my writing with being creative.
When I decided to take the leap and let go of my old beliefs, I started to write – for fun. And guess what – I loved it! I struggled with self-criticism as I wrote, but that’s OK. The joy I get from writing creatively far outweighs the nagging feelings of doubt that it’s perhaps not ‘good enough’. I acknowledge the doubts and the fears, and I continue to write – and I continue to publish what I write. That’s how come you’re reading this blog post.
I continue to look for sources of validation that we can all be creative – and I’ve found one particular group of people who are thinking creatively and being creative almost every day – while not all are conscious they’re doing it.
If you want to see creativity and creative thinking in action – beyond the art galleries and theatres – start hanging out with entrepreneurs. That’s where you’ll see the power of creativity and creative thinking – in action.
Now they may not claim to ‘be creative’, but if you listen closely when they talk about themselves and their business you will certainly hear them say words like “I’m doing things creatively” or “I’m finding creative ways to do things” or “I’m trying to create something different and unique”.
Take a look at any dictionary and most will use the word ‘imagination’ in its definition of the word ‘creative’ – the use of imagination – ideas!
Try saying “I don’t have an imagination”. It seems less believable than saying “I’m not creative” – but they’re practically saying the same thing. We just perceive them differently.
I appreciate this topic of creativity and ‘being creative’ is quite a divisive one – and some would suggest that it’s becoming slightly over-done, particularly in the business world. However, if we come to the individual – the human level – we all have the ability to think and be creative.
If you’re asking:
- What do I need to be creative?
- What do I need to have imagination?
- How do I ‘access’ or ‘tap into’ my creativity and imagination?
The answer is this – a working, thinking brain. It’s that simple – until it’s not.
When we decide we’re not creative, we believe it to be true – and sadly our imagination is left to gather dust. We follow the norm, we stop questioning, we fear change, and we continue living a very rational and sensible life.
If it’s been a while since you’ve used your imagination, I have a quick exercise for you:
- Imagine for a moment you’re walking along a beach, the tide is rolling in, and a warm breeze is blowing on your face.
- Now close your eyes – and see it – imagine it.
That’s got to feel good, right? Keep going – close your eyes again and see what happens next. It’s your imagination – go wild!
Some exercise their imagination more than others when they’re trying to come up with new ideas or new ways of doing things. But it can all start with a walk on the beach.
If we can start to change how we look at creativity and what it means to be creative, perhaps we can move past the ‘us-and-them’ mentality of creatives versus non-creatives.
If you want to change your job so you can make a difference in the world, imagine what that job would look like – that’s thinking creatively.
If you see a gap in the market for a product or service, you can offer, imagine the impact your product or service could have on the lives of others – that’s thinking creatively.
Being creative is just a thought away – or should I say, a creative thought away.
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” Albert Einstein
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein