Born Creative

Since humans swung naked out of the trees on to the Serengeti plains, we have been creative. We had to be. Look at us. Scrawny and hairless surrounded by big cats and other predators. If we had not used those big brains then, we would not be at the top of today’s food chain.

But many people don’t believe they are creative. You are. You have limitless creative ability, but you must believe it to achieve it. I talk extensively about this in my new book, Born Creative.

Research shows that everyone has creative abilities. The more training you have and the more diverse the training, the greater is your potential for creative output.

Additionally, studies show that in creativity quantity equals quality. In fact, the longer the list of ideas, the higher the quality of the final solution. Typically, the highest quality ideas appear at the end of the list.

The average adult thinks of three to six alternatives for any given situation. The average child thinks of 60. Why does this change as we mature? People stop believing in their creative abilities.

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of its database of 6,000 professionals who have taken the Innovator’s DNA assessment further supports the supposition that you must believe in your creativity to make it so.

The study found that those who agree with the survey statement “I am creative” consistently create new businesses, products, services and processes that no one has done before. Because they see themselves as creative, they are. HBR data further suggests that if you change your “I’m not creative” mindset, you, too, can become more consistently creative. HBR has developed a simple, five question test to help you determine your creative mindset.

Answer these questions with a Yes or a No:

Associational thinking: I creatively solve challenging problems by drawing on diverse ideas or knowledge.

Questioning: I often ask questions that challenge others’ fundamental assumptions.

Observing: I get innovative ideas by directly observing how people interact with products and services.

Idea Networking: I regularly talk with a diverse set of people (e.g., from different functions, industries, geographies) to find and refine new business ideas.

Experimenting: I frequently experiment to create new ways of doing things.

According to HBR, if you answered no to three or more of the questions you are most likely in the “I’m not creative” mindset. But you can change.

As cartoonist Hugh MacLeod says, “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”

Let’s get out our crayons — and our belief in our creativity — shall we?

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