How creative am I?
As leaders, as managers, as parents, as contributors to society, we know that creative thinking is an increasingly important skill in this VUCA world. So you may be asking yourself, how creative am I, really? Will I cut it? Do I need to sharpen up?
Firstly let me be clear: by creativity, I don’t mean being able to draw. If you’ve ever said: “I can’t draw a stick man” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body” then you’ve been referring to artistry. Visual, literary and performing arts all take a level of creativity but they don’t define it. Creativity is more than artistry. It is the application of imagination to solve a problem or create something useful. So you can struggle drawing stick men, but be a brilliant problem solver and a true creative thinker.
So, how creative are you? If you are a human being, you are creative. That’s a given. It’s how our brains are wired. But as for how creative are you at this point in time… this depends on what you’ve been doing with the superstructure in your skull for the years you’ve been alive. If you’re like most adult humans, you have stacked and boxed most of your creative desires, curiosities and passions in a neat mental filing cabinet, labelled Ancient History or For Children Only and let them grow dusty and rusty. You’ve been trained through your primary education to write in monochromatic (monotonous to your brain) blue or black pen, on straight horizontal lines (akin to prison bars for your mind, according to Tony Buzan.) No doubt, you have continued this straight-jacketed habit, as have I, for most of your adult life.
If at this point, you’re thinking, “Are there other ways to write things down that don’t involve straight lines and black pen?” then your creativity may be somewhat asleep. If you are wracking your brain trying to recall those imaginary lives you dreamed of when you were young and struggling to locate your true passions now, then I’m afraid your creativity may be in a deep sleep or even a in a coma.
The question you should be asking yourself is not, “How creative am I?”, but “How creative am I, now?” I believe that the answer to the first question is the same for all of us: infinitely! I don’t think that there is an end to how creative any of us can become. The good news is that developing our creativity is both a process of peeling off what’s stopping our creativity, as well as building in skills, habits, practices and influences to grow our creativity. “How creative am I now?” helps us understand our starting point and hopefully give us the impetus to get going on our creative journey.
Here are a few more questions to help you gauge how creative you are now.
Do you lean in to discomfort, or tend to take the easy option?
Do you flick to your phone calculator rather than add up the bill in your head?
Do you ever change up your surroundings or do you like to keep things the same?
Do you learn about varied and different things or just stick to the basics you need in your industry or role?
Do you record your dreams or not recall them at all?
Do you immediately google anything you want to know, or try to recall it or ask a friend?
Do you challenge yourself
Do you ever experiment with cooking or stick to what you know?
Do you take different routes back from work or stay with familiar routes?
There are many more, but these should hint at how creative you really are being in this season of your life. You may even be a talented artist, but have become stunted or stale in your creativity. Creative minds are dynamic and energised, and need to be continually stretched and challenge not to stagnate.