What would your life look like if you were able to be more creative?
In this email I want to redefine what most people think of or assume creativity is.
I define it as:
The act of intentionally bringing something new into existence or connect ideas in a way that solves a novel problem.
If you read the guide on 10 way to 10x your creativity (which you can get here) than you know the definition owes it self to the fact the there are really two different ways to employ creativity. Essentially idea generation and problem solving.
Creativity is an intentional act, pressing down on piano keys and calling it a song took no creativity. Creativity is the actor process of bringing those things into existence, not the outcome, so creativity requires intentionality.
With that said let’s just talk about the 3 myths and narratives I find most pervasive.
Again If you read my 10x guide some of this will be familiar but I think these myths really hold people back from being as creative as they want or could be.
Myth 1: Only select people are creative, and they are born that way.
I feel like this idea is the most damaging to the idea of creativity overall. It’s particularly destructive because it makes many people who are actually creative think they’re not. Creativity is fundamental to the human experience, so if you’re a human you ARE creative. Whether you feel like it or not, but of course if you don’t feel creative then you won’t even try to engage with it or get better at it. You have to believe you are. If you do, you will be.
To quote the book Do Lead “while creativity can often appear innate-like a genetic disposition-it can just as readily be learned and developed as a skill, like riding a bike. This means that anyone can be creative, so long as they’re prepared to put in the hard work.”
Different personality types tend to manifest creativity differently, but it doesn’t mean some special people are born with the ability and some are not. So if you’ve always wanted to be creative, there you go, you are.
Creativity is a skill though, and a skill anyone can get better at, but as with any skill if you want to get better you have to do work to learn it. (Lucky for you I have a free guid that should accelerate your growth, download it here if you haven’t)
Myth 2: Art and artistic ability = Creativity
Most people equate artistic skills to creativity. So if they can’t draw, for example, they declare themselves not very creative. Most examples people use of creativity are artistic ones.
These people ARE creative, of course, they’re just not the ONLY ones and that’s not the only way of using creativity.
This is important because like I said above, everybody is creative, but people who aren’t artistic (for whatever reason), often put the label of “not creative” on themselves.
In reality art is separate thing from creativity. Yes people use creativity to make art, but they also use technical skills in art. Just like most jobs it’s a combination of technical skills and creative skills (idea generation and/or problem solving).
To further clarify, creativity is an act art is an outcome.
Art itself is simply communication beyond the restrictions language imposes. Restrictions that are inherent to being human. If you want further explore what art is check out my article here. Once I realized what art was it changed how I fundamentally interacted with it.
Artists aren’t any more creative than anybody else, we just experience their creativity in a more obvious way, and a way that fits with our long held narratives about what creativity is.
Myth 3: Creativity is a mysterious process we know nothing about, it just happens.
Throughout history creativity has been quite a mystery. Which has lead to these and many more myths and narratives about it.
Now, however, there is exciting new research that is helping us understand the creative process like never before.
In the 10x guide I say: “In fact more and more research is coming out that is showing how creative idea generation works in the brain. A recent study by the University of Graz, Austria , used advanced fMRI scans to identify the exact area of the brain involved in the creation of novel ideas, the left inferior parietal cortex, revealing it to be very much a process, rather than a mysterious feat of wizardry. “
The point is creativity is only a mysterious process because we don’t understand it (obviously), BUT as time goes on we understand the actual mechanics of how it works in the brain more and more.
For example other research has shown that creativity happens in two different modes in the brain.
Executive Mode: “this is recruited when a task requires that the spotlight of attention is focused like a laser beam. This network is active when you’re concentrating on a challenging lecture, or engaging in complex problem solving and reasoning that puts heavy demands on working memory.” Basically what most people believe creativity is.
Default: “when the brain becomes more active when we’re at rest, and the Executive mode is not active. When you’re not actively trying to figure out something, like daydreaming, for example” We can use this information to better understand the creative process and get better at creativity itself.
Again I went over this in my guide but I think it is so important to dispel some of the mystery around the process. When we feel like we have more agency or control about how something works, we’ll be less intimidated and more likely to engage with it.
Obviously we’re only starting to understand how creativity works, but the data this far shows it’s an actual process in the brain and something we have quite a bit of control around.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a growth mindset Carol Dweck made famous it’s the idea that
people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. If you don’t think you can grow you’ll never intentionally seek out growth.
This is why you have to believe you’re creative in the first place in order to get better at it. Also why pervasive myths and narratives like this hold people back from that growth mindset.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions email me you any feedback I’d love to hear it.
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P.S. In the next email I’ll talk about a powerful tool the most creative and influential people use to create the world around us, and the reason brands like Gucci can charge so much.