This blog is about creativity, however if you don’t want to read the full extent of my thoughts on this subject please feel free to ‘skip to the end’ as suggested by Simon Pegg (Tim) to the Jessica Hynes (Daisy) in Spaced. Here you will find a short, one line conclusion awaiting you.
The Oxford English dictionary definition of creativity:
However, this is only one definition and like its cousin ‘Art’, the definition remains, to a degree, a subjective matter. Perhaps that is why I am more interested in our individual perception of creativity and the impact that has on self. Particularly as the one constant I have noticed is that creativity is never associated with negative connotations.
Through my business I have worked with and met too many people who claim not to be creative; expressing this not with enthusiasm, but rather with a sense of resignation. Invariably followed by, ‘Not like such and such, they’re the creative one’. Without fail I am quick to question this assumption, challenging their (no doubt) long held view on this topic. But words can only do so much, that is why I get so much pleasure when I see and hear the expressions of delight once these clients have created their collage and realise that they have both thought and acted creatively.
The origins of a lack of belief in one’s own creativity are not cut and dried, but there is a definite view that creativity belongs to a distinct set of gifted and special individuals who are somehow different. This is borne out by the endless referrals to the likes of Einstein, Picasso and Steve Jobs etc. as creative geniuses. Forgetting that they were just people who started out with a theory, a paint brush and an idea. Of course I am not saying that they weren’t creative, clearly they were (as we all have the latent potential to be). What I am saying is that they should not be held up as the measure by which all other types and levels of creativity are compared. That’s like saying no-one else can run because we can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt.
I am convinced that these unhealthy comparisons contribute to some individuals’ belief that they lack the ability to be creative. That, and the fact that it is all too often associated in many people’s minds with the ‘Arts’, means we have created a culture where you are either considered a creative type or not; where we have a Creative sector, implying that all other sectors by definition are not.
This division is similar to the notion of the left and right brain.
Maybe you’re “right-brained”: creative, artistic, an open-minded thinker who perceives things in subjective terms. Or perhaps you’re more of a “left-brained” person, where you’re analytical, good at tasks that require attention to detail, and more logically minded.
A theory recently debunked by neuroscientists http://goo.gl/Qqajgq
With creativity being such a buzz word now, I think we do a large proportion of society a disservice by implying that they are not creative. Creativity manifests itself in many different ways including how we dress, decorate our homes, teach our children or do our gardens…I think you get the picture. Recognising, accepting and celebrating this is often enough to change the way someone thinks about their own creative ability.
From an individual perspective perhaps the other contributing factor is whether a person feels they have the courage and opportunity to express their creativity. Regarding the latter, I wish I could say with confidence and authority, “Of course everyone has the opportunity, because creativity can be expressed in so many different ways” but to do so would mean disregarding people who are homeless or in unhealthy relationships, people with addictions or who live in poverty. Those people on the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. I do not wish to stereotype here, because despite these circumstances or indeed because of them some people can be very resourceful, very creative in order to cope.
I recently read an article by Carla Woolf that supports this view. Speaking of her own experiences she says,
“…but for a great deal of my own life’s time, creativity was plainly about having to be resourceful.”
Nonetheless, for many others the situations described above simply leave no room, energy or even desire for creativity.
Thinking back to courage, what do I mean? Well in its simplest terms it’s that ability not to care what others think or even what the outcome may be, because the focus is on doing the thing you love, the thing that gives you pleasure and makes you feel positive about yourself. So you think you can’t draw, who are you comparing yourself too? If you enjoy it, do it. Courage is not being afraid of doing it wrong or being worried about expressing yourself; it’s about embracing those interests that others may so rudely and wrongly describe as ‘anal’ simply because they are of no interest to them.
So if you are blessed to be in a position where you have the opportunity to be, exercise that privilege and be creative because:
CREATIVITY BY ANY OTHER NAME IS A GIFT THAT BELONGS TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US.
If you’d like to read more about current thinking and views on creativity I would highly recommend visiting www.creativitypost.com