When introducing the word creativity, a lot of people react by saying ‘I am not creative’. This is based on a series of myths around creativity that have been developed over time. Luckily a lot of research has been done to show that everybody is intuitively creative and can easily learn to deliberately apply it. An important step is to speak the language of creativity. Yes, creativity has some specific vocabulary, discover which and start experimenting. Creativity will help you thrive in a changing world.
Myths around creativity
There are a lot of myths around creativity that are deeply engraved in people’s general beliefs. A very strong one is that creativity is a trait, a capability that only belongs to some special people, called creative geniuses. Names that typically come to mind are Mozart, Einstein, Steve Jobs and it is believed that these geniuses have dramatic moments of insight where great things and thoughts are born. It is indeed tempting to believe that great innovation is delivered to us only via genius. It explains why so many of us believe and say that we are not creative as if it is a question of to be or not be creative. Research is unanimous: everybody is intuitively creative, everybody has the capability of producing creative outcomes, the challenge is to know how to start and be deliberate about it.
Everybody is creative
Everybody has the capability to come up with new ideas, to find new solutions to problems. What often happens is that we don’t or barely dig into the problem we want to solve, that we generate a couple of ideas and start to work with one of those. The chances that we start with the right problem, answer the right need and generate a super creative solution very quickly, are slim. When we observe the work of great creators, we see that they have spent an enormous amount of time clarifying the problem, analyzing the needs, generating ideas, shaping and reshaping those ideas and testing them out again and again. It is the result of deliberately spending a lot of time and effort.
Composers or writers delete more notes or words than they finally keep, innovators spend weeks/months observing customers, analyzing their needs, generating different ideas and finally testing many, many different products and features before launching their final product. The basic rule is to continue to ask questions, to look for different options and to consider new possibilities, not one but a lot, over and over again. To start this process of deliberate exploration, imagination and developing, the language of creativity is your best ally.
Start speaking the language of creativity
Is it easy ? Yes, it is only a couple of words. Is it easy ? No, because we are not used to speaking that language.
When somebody comes up with a new idea, do you say: ‘Oh yes, and we could also…’ or rather ‘Yes, but we have not enough time now.’ ‘Yes and there are certainly even more possibilities, such as … or do you say: ‘Let me just play the devil’s advocate for a minute’? Most of us answer with the latter. We look at it with critical glasses, we quickly evaluate whether that particular idea is feasible, acceptable, desirable on the basis of our own frame of reference. We think in limitations, rather than in options.
Next time somebody comes to you with a suggestion, an idea, a proposition, try to answer by saying ‘What do you mean?’, ‘Yes, what else can we do?’, ‘Let’s look at all the possible ways in which we can do this’. Those are not just replies to a suggestion, they determine the way we think, the way we interact. Instead of closing the discussion at once, they open up a realm of possibilities, of opportunities, of imagination, of looking beyond the obvious. They open up the route to creativity, to consider many options over and over again.
What the language helps to do, is silencing your inner critical voice that sees limitations and problems and opening up our creative voice. It is the first step to deliberately use your creative capabilities and build your creative power.
Use your creative power – adapting to change is not a choice
Why is it important to deliberately start using this creative capacity ? Why is it important to develop this power ? Of course you don’t need to become a famous writer, composer or innovators, but you need to be able to adapt to the quickly changing environment in which we live and work and which has been intensified by the Corona crisis. Speaking the language of creativity is a first step to start practicing your ability to think in options, look for possibilities and develop new solutions, over and over again. This is what it means to be able to adapt to change.