Do you consider yourself to be creative?
Your answer to this question might depend on how you view your abilities or how you define creativity. But if you think of yourself or somebody you know as a non-creative person, I hope your opinion will change by the end of this blog post.
MYTH #1 You're born to be either creative or not
I hear this a lot. "I am not creative." What people usually mean is that they can't draw or decorate. Maybe, they failed an art class in school or couldn't design a poster board for a project. There is usually a negative experience of some sort attached to their belief. I would like to destroy this lie you're telling yourself by saying the following:
every person is creative
Before you dismiss this, allow me to prove my point. First, let's define creativity. All dictionaries would tell you that CREATIVITY is using one's imagination to come up with something unique and original, something that only you can think of. It is an idea in your head that originated with you.
Recently I asked my husband whether he considered himself creative. His answer was a quick "no". Despite that, the man created several businesses and has to create unique solutions in daily situations. He is using his mind to orchestrate business deals, resolve problems, come with new approaches. Yes, he can't even draw a stick figure, but he is using his creativity in a different way.
According to the study done by George Land, we all start out as creative geniuses and over the years learn non-creative behavior (see link below).
So, the real question is not whether you have creativity or not, but rather
—are you using it. Are you allowing your mind to think in creative ways? Yes, creativity can be blocked and it will effect every area of your life. Which leads me to the next section.
MYTH #2 Creativity is only for artists
Yes, definitely people involved in art and design have to use creativity. But you might not realize, that you need it in everyday situations as well, not just to produce a masterpiece sculpture or write a bestselling fiction. Here are some other ways you might have used creativity:
you ran out of food and had to get creative in a kitchen by putting dinner together from what you found in the cupboards.
you needed to come up with a unique solution to the problem at work.
you found a new approach to convince your significant other to purchase that one expensive item you wanted for the house.
you came up with an interesting way to make your kids eat vegetables.
you figured out how to squeeze another meeting into your busy schedule.
As you can see, creativity has many applications. If you sorted out how to cook dinner, study for the test, put makeup on, and bounce a toddler on a hip at the same time—don't ever tell anyone you're not creative.
Allow creativity to flow in all areas of your life by letting yourself think of new ways to do something.
MYTH #3 I am not as creative as others
This is a big one for me. I always thought of myself as being a creative person just because I loved to draw, paint, and write—all the things we normally associate with creativity. But what often stopped me at expressing my creative self is comparison to others. It's so easy with internet and social media to see what others are doing. Watching all these people who were far more advanced than me in their skills, I started wondering whether I should even bother. I might never be as good as they are, why try?
And that's the biggest lie you can tell yourself. It will stop your creativity cold. Why participate in a discussion and present my ideas when there are so many other people who are way more creative? Why try to make my house or myself prettier when there are all these women who seem perfect? Why try this new skill when others are already professional in what they do? I would never catch up.
Are any of these negative tapes playing in your mind? Here is what I've got to say:
creativity is as unique as you are
The world needs your unique perspective and approach. Yes, your opinion matter in that project. What you produce with your hands or your mind, nobody else can. Your house might not be as perfect, but it has your touch. You might not follow the latest fashion trends, but you're being yourself. By learning this new skill, you are allowing your creativity to grow and flourish. And others who come after you, will look up to you and will have courage to try as well.
Realize that there are as many ways to be creative as there are people on our planet. You can't compare. You be you. Allow yourself to try. If the results are not what you want them to be, it's not a failure, it's an experience. Next myth deals exactly with that.
MYTH #4 Creativity is a talent
Lie. Let me bust it right away:
creativity is an acquired set of skills
Doesn't make sense? Let me explain. What we see as highly creative talented people are actually regular folks who put a lot of work into perfecting their skills. What we notice is the spectacular end product of their labor. What we don't realize is that it took years and years of practice. Yes, it looks easy now, but it took lots of trials and errors, lots bad results, lots of perseverance.
Ok, so we are all wired differently. I am not implying that a person who has absolutely no inclination for art, might become the next Michelangelo if he tries really hard. But if he or she allows creativity to flow, that person might become a great engineer, doctor, layer, an incredible mom. We will all look at that individual and think it was all a talent, but in reality it was hard work.
For example, say you want to write a book—something that has been close to my heart. You allow your creativity to flow freely and come up with a great story. It's unique, it's innovative, it is yours. That doesn't mean you can produce a good quality book that readers would enjoy. That part requires development of different skills and many hours of work. The result might not be perfect, but it will be learning experience.
Now, if you tell yourself that you can't write because you failed your first grade spelling or because of any other reason, it will all stop right there, and the world would never read your story. But if you let your creativity carry you further and actually sit down to write, then work on perfecting the craft, you will get to the finish line.
MYTH #5 Creatives have it made
Well, yes. That's true in a way. Creative people are successful because they give themselves permission to explore new possibilities. So, you can either sit back and sulk or tell yourself that you are also creative. You just need to learn how to use and develop your creativity.
Let me make another preposterous statement. I think that people who grow their creativity and use it in everyday situations, are more happy. How do I know that? First of all, creativity is an ability to express yourself. If you don't feel like you can be you, that your opinion matters, that your voice need to be heard, that your unique perspective is valued, that your approach to things can produce results, it kind of makes life hard. Maybe, you even agreed with others who suppressed your creativity in the past and resolved to blend in. Maybe, you parents, your co-workers, you SO never valued who you are. I say it's time to change that. It's time to break the walls and let your light shine through.
How do you start? By taking small steps. First one is to get rid of the lies. Tell yourself right now that you are creative and keep telling it to yourself every time you feel stuck in the situation or don't have enough courage to bring your input to the table. Then work on ways to develop the creativity that had been lying dormant for so long. It can grow. Here are a few ideas:
Pick up a new skill that you'd never tried before: take a fun & easy group art or pottery class on a weekend in your area, learn to dance, go to a cooking or gardening workshop, attend a conference for an industry you're not familiar with, go outside into the nature and take photos, ask yourself what is that you always wanted to try but never had time or dismissed as something that's not for you.
Do things in a new, different way: dress up or go casual—whichever is not the norm, reorganize your work space or house, take a different route to work, make a new meal, change your hair color, try an opposite approach to the problem.
Allow yourself to express ideas freely: try collaging a vision board (there is no wrong way to go about it, involve your kids and you'll see), start a journal and write your thoughts and feelings down, do an idea dump without filtering or stopping them.
Set yourself up for creativity: do something you love, relax and unwind first, get a good sleep, eat your favorite meal, play your favorite music, go for a walk or on a short trip, read a book, clean up your schedule to allow more focused time, remove distractions.