When I hear someone make the claim, “I’m just not creative,” I find myself struggling with a calling to help that person find a way out of that self-deprecating thought. My reasoning is simple. Humans, by design, are all creative thinkers. It’s in our DNA as a primary source of our survival instincts. Almost all conscious thoughts involve some form of creativity, in that we are processing large amounts of input as we move through our day, and often make very creative decisions, as we choose the best way to move forward, through the day. That said, when one feels compelled to say they are not very creative, it’s often referring to some sense of artistic ability, and driven by a feeling that they would be uncomfortable being forced to create something artistic. This is the main misconception of creativity.
Creativity is most often associated with artistic talent, resulting in a common observation like, “Mary is so creative” when we’re actually thinking, she’s a good artist. While this is an honest observation, we’ve mistakenly blurred the definition of creativity almost exclusively with artistic talent. It is true that good artists have exceptional creativity, and through years of practice and free expression of their creative thoughts, have developed their artistic talent. Some might even say this is a ‘calling’ or “a gift’ and dismiss the thought that they could even begin to create something artistic. I challenge this thought by reminding us that the first creative (artistic) thing we ever did was imagine something and then try to draw it. As children, we found our greatest joy in free expression of our imagination.
Childhood imagination and creativity resulted in unique turkey drawings from tracings of our own hands, amazing adventures in the basement or backyard, beautiful sculptures from snow and sticks, inventing the greatest thing-a-ma-gig, singing the same song endlessly, playing made-up games, and dancing like no one is watching! This same imagination and creativity have brought us the modern world of exploration, invention, technologies, scientific discovery, medical breakthroughs, and put human beings on the moon. Oh yes, and let’s not forget, some of the most unique and amazing works of art; from ancient sculpture, basket weaving, oil paintings and musical instruments, to great books, architecture, ballet, theater, photography, E=mc2, and that unforgettable melody playing in your head.
I believe the difference between exceptional creativity and everyday creativity is an imaginary barrier. In some cases, it is clearly a matter of substantial devotion to a craft or skill, but is often just realizing, “there is no box.” No lines to draw inside of, no wall too high to scale (or go around), no problem without an answer, and no reason to think you’re not creative. You’ve been imagining things your whole life and may be one of the fortunate who have experienced your ability to create. I challenge you to pass that forward to everyone you know and meet, with your own creative expression, and watch the magic happen…
We should all inspire imagination and creativity in children of all ages to push beyond their barriers. If you want more information about our nonprofit and how we help inspire, engage, and promote these initiatives, please read more about the REASON WE DO THIS!
Written by George Vroustouris