I love reading the wildly-popular Copyblogger, especially today when Brian Clark wrote about creativity. His post Do You Recognize These Top 10 Mental Blocks to Creative Thinking? is right on and worth a read.
But today, his blog is making me hopping mad. Not because of what Brian said--his post was great--but because "someone who has over forty years of success at being very creative indeed" thought he needed to knock some sense into all the aspiring creative thinkers out there.
This [list] is more of a back-slapping, ego-boosting exercise than anything realistic to base your life on. Real creative people don’t need it, and nothing in it could possibly turn a dullard into anything like a real creative person.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here. People who say things like this tick me off.
Why do statements like that get me up in arms? Because they're completely false. I've been practicing creative thinking since I was 10, and I KNOW that creativity can be developed.
Take me for example.
I tried out for a creative problem-solving team in elementary school. As part of the audition, we had to write down as many creative answers for the category "things that are green" as possible.
I listed every tree and plant in the forest. (Oak, Maple, Poison Ivy...) Not one of my answers was creative, but my list was so long that I earned enough points for non-creative answers that I still made the team!
Since then, I learned a lot more about creativity, am a certified Lateral Thinking instructor and can almost call myself a "Master of Creativity and Innovation".
But I would never tell people that I'm much more creative than them and that they're doomed to always be a dullard.
I've seen way too many people go from "I'm not creative" to having tons of ideas.
Edward de Bono uses a great analogy to teach why creativity is a skill. He says that the mind is like a car:
"People can be born with either a Porsche for a brain, or a Smart car--but it's how they use it that matters."
A Smart driver doesn't have a lot of natural ability, but a really fantastic driver will be able to get an amazing performance out of the teeny auto.
If you doubt me, come see a Smart darting in and out of traffic on a German autobahn.
Just like the Smart, not everyone is born with a high-performance creative-thinking brain. But, no one is born with the ability to parallel-park a car!
- Is learned by making the effort to become creative.
- It comes through being willing to come up with bad ideas until a good idea emerges.
- It comes from being willing to try new things and to look at the world through different eyes.
- It's about seeing opportunities in the things that piss you off, and suspending judgment until an idea has had a chance to germinate.
But mostly, creativity comes from wanting to be creative and deciding that you're going to do it.
And if anyone like Brian's "highly-creative" commentator tries to tell you otherwise, ignore them. If they believe that their creativity is a divine ability and that they've never improved with practice, they're lying to you.
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