Creativity is not a gift some people are given and others aren’t. We all have it, and we all use it every day. When you see creativity and problem solving up on the list of most desired skills for the future, it shouldn’t fill you with a sense of dread. You are creative, you don’t have to be an artist, an innovator or a post-it note addict. So how to do I know you are creative?
There is more than one type of creative
All creative processes go through different stages and individually we do not tend to be equally effective at all stages. This is why the most successful creations are often a product of a co-creation, it is also why you might think you are not creative when you are.
We often associate being creative only with being good at coming up with new ideas, if we fall into this trap, we are ignoring at least 3 other important ways to be creative.
At the beginning of the creative process, we need reflective people able to observe, filter through large quantities of information and make sense of it. Then we need the crazy ideas guys, and once they’ve done their part, we need the prototypers who innovate within the box to create real, feasible solutions. Finally, we need people able to implement, to get things done, to get that painting exhibited, to get the product or service to market.
The chances are you identify with one or more of these creative profiles, so you are creative.
The label you carry around your creativity has little to do with reality
From an early age we tend to be labeled or label ourselves as “creative” or “not creative”, this can have a huge effect on how we approach creative problem solving, not because we are “good” or “bad” at it but simply because we think we are.
This self-fulfilling prophesy is automatic, but it doesn’t have to be. It is hard to take a label you may have always identified with and let it go, but it’s possible. The first step is having a good think about what your deal with creativity is.
If you were unlucky enough to be labeled “uncreative” as a kid, perhaps it’s time to face that label head on and identify where it is limiting you and take responsibility for what you can do to change it.
Creative as opposed to reactive mindset
I’m certain that you have done something creative over the past few days. Even if this something was figuring out a way to watch your favorite TV series while also putting your kids to bed or creating an acceptable dinner out of the bits and pieces in the fridge. In these small acts we take responsibility for the situation and use creativity to solve an issue. We are active participants in our lives rather than drifting along.
There are various schools of thought in leadership that define creativity as the opposite to reactivity. For example, Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams in their book “Scaling Leadership” talk about High Creative Leadership verses High Reactive Leadership. They are not discussing creative leaders in the traditional sense, they use the term to describe people who are purpose driven, desire focused, propelled by an inside-out energy. In short, they are people designing for the future.
So being creative does not just mean being the idea generator there are many other (equally important) roles in a creative process. Whether we consider ourselves creative or not has more to do with what we were told as kids and how we incorporated that into our self-identity than any reality. Finally, we are constantly making decisions on whether to take the creative or reactive option open to us so being creative can also be about increased awareness of our actions.
If you liked this article and would like to find out more about developing your creativity. You can download my free 10 Step “Train Yourself Creative” PDF here.