“I am just not creative.”
How often have you heard that? Or said it yourself?
It’s a myth that creativity depends on a select group of quirky, artsy individuals. Each of us is a problem solver in our own way, which means that each of us is creative. That’s why one of the key insights we focused on when producing our World Creativity and Innovation Week creativity video
is this: everyone has a creative bone in their body.
People who don’t believe they’re creative are working from a very narrow definition of creativity. Donald W. MacKinnon—as quoted in Sparks of Genius
– one of our favorite books on creativity— defines it this way: “Creativity involves a process that is extended in time and characterized by originality, adaptiveness & realization.”
Creativity is found not just in in designers, artists, writers, or high tech professionals, but anywhere there are people thinking their way through problems. As Sparks of Genius explains, “To characterize people by the different things they make is to miss the universality of how they create.”
Have you ever broken away from a familiar method of doing a task at your job, in the quest for more efficiency or a better outcome? That’s creativity. Have you ever attempted to stretch the boundaries of what you thought was possible in a given situation? That, too, is creativity. Creative thinking is, in one sense, a refusal to live in the status quo, the constant reaching for an ideal, no matter how seemingly far out of reach.
Sometimes, our creative pursuits outside the office actually spur creativity in the workplace. For instance, the physician who invented the stethoscope was also a flute player. He dreamed up a tool for listening to a patient’s heart by thinking about how the anatomy of a flute amplifies sound.
The basic tasks at our jobs can also push us to be creative. Think about how teachers come up with distinctive ways of getting content across to students, how lawyers use intricacies of the law to defend their clients, and how marketers use creativity techniques to tell an organization’s story in a way that matters to customers and prospects.
Imagination and invention—not just knowledge and experience—are crucial for all of us. No matter where we work or the job we do, we all need to confront fears, inhibitions, and the limitations of the status quo in order to think our way toward new, more efficient ways of getting things accomplished—to go beyond what we perceive as possible.
We’ve developed a creative landing page
with tips on maximizing your personal creative potential, a creativity reading list, and other resources. Check it out, and learn how to locate and strengthen that creative bone in your body.