An article in the December 2012 Harvard Business Review promoted the need for “Reclaiming Your Creative Confidence.” In the article the authors, founders of the design firm IDEO, assert that “creativity is something you practice, not just a talent you are born with.” I totally agree that there are practices to help you be more creative and to help you overcome obstacles and fears that are keeping you from being your creative best. However, I still maintain there are too many myths and misunderstandings about the phenomenon known as “creativity,” and these myths can keep you from seeing yourself as creative in the first place and thus may be obstructing your creative confidence.
Therefore, you must first make your way through those myths before you can achieve the benefits of being creative. That means you need to realize that you are indeed creative. Then you need to identify just how you are creative. Finally, you can use tools and techniques and knock down the obstacles that may be keeping that creativity from flourishing.
In the many workshops I have facilitated over the years on creativity, participants typically approach the topic with confusion. Some participants will say: “I’m not creative.” Or, “I’m not very creative,” or, “I’m not sure if I am creative.” Countless books and articles on the topic of creativity refer to specific “creative” or “innovative” personalities. Writers talk about creativity as if it belongs only to a select group of individuals with certain characteristics, or those who utilize a certain dominant side of the brain. “Creative people,” according to these experts, do this or need that, as if there’s one special way to be creative.
These comments are very disturbing given the many personal and professional benefits that come from being creative (see prior blogs on benefits to individuals and leaders). I believe we are all creative and that there is no one ideal way to be creative. That’s because, after much research, I have come to define creativity as “the ability to produce different and valuable results.” It’s these different creative results and contributions that we need to explore in order to realize our true creative potential and creative confidence. (For more on the many different ways you can be creative or to learn how to identify your creative strengths.)
Once you have identified your creative strengths and talents, then there are several more steps to take.
- Figure out what’s keeping you from being your creative best. What fears or obstacles might be getting in your way? (Here, the authors of the HBR article have some useful hints. Check out “Fighting the Fears!”)
- Make sure you have the right amount of knowledge about the topic you are trying to be creative about! Creativity is not a flash in the pan. You need to know your subject in order to be creative about it. Of course, you don’t want to let that knowledge keep you from thinking outside the boundaries!
- Identify the kind of environment you need to bring out your creativity and the process that works for you to get creative results. One size does not fit all when it comes to stimulating your creative talents. Some tools and techniques work for some of us, but not necessarily for all of us in the same way!
- Find your passion. Being creative requires courage because you are being different and outside the norm. You need to be persistent and sometimes tough to achieve creative results. Passion will give you that energy and drive to make your ideas happen!
What will you do tomorrow to enhance your creativity?