Everyone is Creative

What is creativity? For many, the word itself summons images of artists in front of canvases, musicians composing notes and other lone geniuses mysteriously creating. It is also often associated with concepts like talent and being gifted. How many times have you heard people self-identify as not having a single creative bone in their body?

Creativity is broader than that- it is a faculty that we all possess and it is what distinguishes us from the animal world. It allows us to forge new paths, regardless of what road we are one. Scientists are profoundly creative, so are entrepreneurs, so are marketers, so are doctors (I can go on). As humans we are wired for creativity.

The Brain

The human brain is uniquely wired. In animals the areas of the brain responsible for processing input and output are very close to each other and have an almost linear relationship- Food=Eating. In humans however, the pathways are much more complicated. We are able to disassociate from the immediate response and tap into new connections that override the automatic instinct triggered by stimulus. The power to rise above that instinct and imagine something that is not there- that is our superpower. It allows our mind to travel in time and space- to try out new ideas and make new connections.  

The Blank Canvas Myth

In order to understand the nature of creativity, it is helpful in this case to understand what it isn’t. Creativity is NOT sitting in front of a blank canvas and dreaming up new ideas outside of context, as if ‘inspired’ by some otherworldly power. This myth has divided people into two camps- those who see themselves as creative and those who don’t. Creativity is not about ‘being good at art’. It is about taking ideas from one place and applying them to another. What medium you choose to do this in is irrelevant.

Creativity is Natural

As children, play comes easy. Creativity and imagination are at the core of how children interact with the world. This is how cardboard boxes become spaceships. Kids create without inhibition and outside of titles and categories. Unfortunately, our educational systems are designed to stifle the creative process. From an early age our thought patterns are isolated in different subjects and we are not taught to connect inputs. As adults our continuous obsession with specializations is creating a workforce that knows a lot about very little. We are set up to fail creatively and yet creativity is ones of the most sought after skills in the workplace.

So how do we tap into our natural creativity? Well the easy answer is that you must create the space for it. This goes back to the input/ output idea. The richer and broader your inputs the more fuel your brain has to work with- the more connections it can make and the more creative it can be.

3 Tips for Tapping into Creativity

  1. Seek out new experiences.

Take a class on something completely different. Forget what looks good on your LinkedIN profile and just take a class in something- just because. Feed those inputs. Learning new things can be hard- you have to be willing to be wrong and willing to be right.

  1. Get Uncomfortable

When we take risks and go outside our comfort zones, our brain goes into overdrive. It tries to figure out how to get back to that happy place and in doing so it gets creative. So get off the path of least resistance and you will see your mind begin to transform and your life along with it.

  1. Eat a little less

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting is actually great for your brain power. Having regular periods of reduced calorie intake improves cognitive function and you ability to focus. This gives a whole new meaning to the old cliche of ‘starving artist’.