'Am I creative?' you may be asking? I’ll answer that with another question: ‘Are you human?’ If your answer is ‘yes’, then my response to you is, ‘Well then, you are creative.’
If you don't feel particularly creative, don't fear. You are not alone. Studies show that as we get older, discipline, the pressures of life, fears and societal norms tend to make us ask fewer questions, laugh less, and display less creativity than we were as young children. In fact, our education system has historically favored knowledge and critical thinking over imagination and creative thinking to serve businesses in the industrial age. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?” is the most watched TED talk of all time. It has been viewed over 70 million times. The subject of creativity in education is clearly of interest to a great number of people.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?”
I want to encourage you with these three facts.
1. You were creative as a child, so you have proven that you have this capacity.
2. There is evidence of creativity in your life right now.
3. Your brain has all the capabilities required for creativity.
As a child you were, like all children are, an explorer, a scientist, an artist, a poet, a musician and a learner. With curiosity and delight you pushed and pulled, squished and wiggled everything you could get your tiny digits on. You conducted endless experiments to learn about the world around you. Even as an infant, you were getting feedback from the science lab of your mouth by sticking things into it to see what they felt and tasted like. The world was your canvas, whether it was the sand you were drawing in with a stick or the friend you were painting on with mud. You made music with your voice as you learned to speak, copy sounds and sing into the wind. Your brain knew how to be creative then and it still does now.
Answer these questions in your mind. Do you daydream? Do you plan and cook meals at home? Do you remember with pleasure special times with friends or great sporting moments? Do you have books at home which you'd like to read but for which you have not yet managed to find the time? All of these actions require creativity, so if you answered “yes” to any of these questions you are already showing signs of creative thinking in your life.
Your brain is capable of neuroplasticity. This means that your neural pathways and synapses can change. In addition, you get new brain cells to work with every day. This is called neurogenesis. In 2019, researchers found new brain matter in the brain of an 87-year-old. So now there is no excuse that you are “too old” to learn anything new.
Dr Beaty of the Neuroscience Lab at Penn state: “Psychology and neuroscience have made encouraging progress in our understanding of how the creative brain works. We now know that creative thinking involves the interplay of the brain’s default and executive control networks, and that these connections allow us to spontaneously generate ideas and critically evaluate them, respectively. And we are learning about how our memory systems contribute: the same networks that we use to recall the past also allow us to imagine future experiences and think creatively.”
Association is the power to connect things and to link ideas and concepts together. Our brains is an incredibly powerful association maker with each of our 80 billion neurons capable of making as many as tens of thousands of synaptic contacts with other neurons.
What I love is that the creativity spills from the area that you are focusing on, to other areas in your life. If you start expressing your creativity in a hobby, you will see that creativity starts to show in your work too. When you get creative with your kids, you’ll notice your creative problem solving starting to improve. Waking creativity is an ongoing process that is a virtuous circle. As you start to experiment with your creative thinking, more creative thinking follows.
Creative thinking is expressed in different forms. Some people are more divergent thinkers (they have lots of ideas) and others are more original thinkers (they have fewer but more unique ideas.) Some people have more flexible creative thinking (their ideas come from lots of different domains and categories) and others are more skilled at creative elaboration (providing more detail and developing the ideas.) You may be strong in one or all of these types of creative thinking. Which type of creative thinking do you think comes most naturally to you?
I encourage you to watch ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ by Sir Ken Robinson | TED 20 mins. Consider these questions.
Leverage your creative intelligence to get unstuck and become a more agile, resilient and inventive thinker.
Creativity is one of the most sought-after business skills in the world. Without creativity, there is no innovation. Creative cultures give organisations a competitive edge, and creative leaders consistently outperform their peers.
Creativity Wake-Up founder, Nina Pearse, is an adjunct faculty member of GIBS, Africa's leading Business School. Join her powerful Online Masterclass, Creativity for Business, which is accredited by both GIBS and the The Financial Planning Institute.
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