I hear it all the time, “I wish I were a creative person.” Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t agree with that statement. I think it’s unfortunate that people believe creativity is something you can only associate with art. Creativity is so much more than art. It is the essence of how we interact with the world.
First, I’m not being glib when I say that everyone is creative. Everyone can imagine possibilities, ideas or objects they have never seen before. Maybe it’s because people feel that being creative is a unique trait that only a few are born with? Or that it’s not all that special because you believe it’s associated with trivial, unimportant things? Assuming you are not creative is a self-imposed limitation that comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of how the creative process works and a lack of awareness of the capacity within each of us to discover and build solutions. Most people don’t see the value of creativity comes from utilizing it rather than the work that comes from it. We should see our creative process as our most important tool.
So, if you are one of the people I’m talking about, who believe they are not creative, think about this: Do you see yourself as a problem solver? If the answer is “yes,” I’m sorry to say that you are creative. If you have ever in your life solved a problem effectively, at any level, you are using your creative capacity to do so. From deciding what to wear every morning to helping a friend through a traumatic experience, your ability to take in data and consider options comes from the right hemisphere of your brain. Problem-solving is hard-wired in all of us. We need to use our creative minds to help solve problems and find solutions in our daily lives. Otherwise, we would have never left the caves 20 million years ago, let alone gotten out of bed this morning.
The continuous use of deductive reasoning, calculating pros and cons, and weighing options is ever-present in every waking moment of our lives. We are all, in our way, sufficient in our ability to be more creative.
For example, a mechanic who doesn’t think of herself as artistic and therefore believes she is not creative. Yet, she can listen to a car engine and deduce the cause of the noise. Suppose you are an accountant and have never been interested in anything other than calculations and numbers. In that case, you assess your data and combine the necessary sums to reach an equation that will solve your problem. Or maybe you are a dad who naturally rises to the occasion at the site of a child crying and comforts them. You are creative. This should go without saying. Most days, all parents need to dig deep in their creative problem-solving pockets while raising children.
The actions I described would typically not be categorized as creative but should be. It becomes even more apparent when we realize the only differentiator between a person who sees themself as creative and one who doesn’t is awareness and humility. If we begin to understand that being creative is not unique and those who claim to be are not privy to some unreachable skill, we may shift our perspective and improve our problem-solving skills at that point. With the confidence that comes from that realization, we are permitted to make the solutions within us more reachable and less mysterious.
It’s only a matter of how much effort you are willing to put into it. That creative person is simply aware they use their natural ability to take multiple abstract ideas and combine them to solve problems. These are things every human being who has ever walked this green earth has already done for survival. So, give yourselves credit for being a skilled creative and problem solver. So, I believe the biggest lesson I’ve learned from self-proclaimed “non-creatives” is they are missing out on some fantastic possibilities because of their fear of trying. If more of us had the confidence to join the fray and get our hands dirty, we would make a significant dent in making the world a better place. We need to do what we have always been meant to, live with a sense of freedom and independence that allows us to judge ourselves a little less and trust ourselves a little more.
Alex Raffi is the creative director and partner of Imagine Communications as well as its arbiter of creative awareness.