Not The Creative Type? Really?

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Have you ever told yourself “I’m not the creative type?”

If so, you are wrong. Everyone is creative in one way or another. Maybe not in the Einstein sense of E=MC2. But certainly in new ways of viewing one’s world as well as innovative approaches to products, processes, and the artistic enterprise. Just living one’s life can be a work of creativity in progress.

The goal of this blog is to point you in the direction of your own creativity. Here are four things that need to happen. You need to;

1.   Solve a problem

When a person is being creative, whether they know it or not, they are attempting to solve a problem. They are working on questions like “How can we find a solution for the water shortage in our community?”  This presents an invitation for the creative journey to begin. It cues the mind to start connecting disparate pieces of information and looking for patterns of thought.

All of us have inchoate burning questions about problems that we care about deeply. They point to a path never traveled. But the creativity does not begin until the problem is felt and articulated.

Question: What problem do you feel passionate about?

2.  Defer making a decision

The last thing a creative person needs is an imposed deadline. True creativity happens when the mind can operate without such constraints. We all know about writer’s block, stage fright, fear of failure, and mind freeze. All of these occur in part because we impose on ourselves the real or imagined expectations of others.

So in order to be creative we need to defer making decisions. This allows the mind to mull over the burning question even if we cannot envision the timing of the end result.

Question: How can you arrange it so that you expect no particular outcome?

3.  Play at it

Creative people seem to be in a state of play. They are like children in a sandbox totally immersed in building some equivalent of an enchanted city. Their imagination is so engaged with the challenge at hand that time passes by and they don’t notice it, they have lots of fun, and their work seems like a game.

How many times have we heard creative people say “You mean, they pay me for this?”

Question: What activity seems like play to you?

4.  Make it up as you go

A core component in creativity is your willingness to improvise as you go. You are like the seafaring explorers/cartographers who made up maps as they progressed on their journey.

And during this improvisation there is a learning curve. There is a big gap between our creative aspiration and the final output. Artists have to learn the color wheel. Writers have to learn the basics of editing. Works of genius don’t just pop out of the mind of the neophyte. All of us have felt that the first draft of our work is useless. At some point we all felt that we wanted to throw in the towel and quit.

We need to learn the patience with ourselves that comes with viewing creativity as a journey not a destination.

Question: What creative journey are you on right now?

Check to see if the above steps are evident in your creative effort.

What has facilitated your creative process?

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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