Creativity is important in virtually every area of life.
Whether it’s your hobby, profession or just in everyday life.
In fact in any field it’s essential to come up with new ideas and solve problems.
However it’s used, it’s what moves humanity forward.
Historically though (and even today) it’s been seen as mysterious thing, and understandably so.
The mystery surrounding it ends up creating lots myths.
Unfortunately the sad truth is some of these myths really hold people back from being as creative as they want or could be.
I’m going to focus on 3 myths I consider to be most pervasive and unhelpful.
Hopefully dispelling these myths will empower you to engage with creativity more even if you haven’t felt creative in the past and give you more insight into creativity itself.
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. 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 my free guide on how to 10x you creativity 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.
The mysterious and often romantic thoughts and ideals that creativity has long been associated with are a very real part of creativity, and I don’t mean to totally kill them. It’s fun to engage with a process so mysterious as creativity.
However they also hold many people back from even considering themselves creative or wanting anything to do with it. That’s why I think it’s 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 in the brain, but the data this far shows its an actual process in the brain, not just limited specifically to certain people and something we actually have quite a bit of control of.
Kevin Walker is the Founder of Creative Carbon, who’s mission is to inspire, and empower creativity and disruption in the next generation. He has worked in creative industries for over a decade and believes that creativity, along with disruption, is an essential part of influencing and creating culture, and that everybody is capable of learning and using those skills.