Recognising your Creativity

Since starting The Ideas Business two years ago, the question I’m most often asked relates to just one thing.

How can I be more creative?

The answer is easy because I believe the question itself is flawed. I have always been firmly of the view that everyone is born creative, and it’s how we choose to deploy our creative thinking capability that makes us different.

Some people go down the fully artistic path, making a living from the performing arts or music. Careers most people see as being ‘creative’ often equate to the arts or media. But for most people, they don’t recognise those seemingly insignificant individual acts of creativity. Cooking without a recipe for instance. Or considering where to plant seeds in a garden. Or choosing an activity to do in leisure time.

The best example I give people is to ask them how they decided to dress themselves this morning. The vast majority of people don’t wake up and go ‘oh it’s Monday so I have to wear that black dress with those green shoes’. Choosing what to wear requires some societal conformities - pants on legs, blouses on top etc - but the rest is a matter of interpretation. First we’ve chosen the items that sit in our wardrobe (itself a creative act), then we select when and how to wear them and with what. And yes, that includes us Melbournians who lean towards black on black on black.

To me being able to be ‘more creative’ means first recognising the everyday acts of creativity we all undertake and giving ourselves credit for those. Once you can see the creative choices you make everyday, it makes it easier to be able to develop into more complex creative problem solving. You are then starting from a position of confidence in your ability, rather than self-sabotage or envy of others. You can see how you are taking questions that don’t yet have answers, and answering them using only your abilities.

Have a think about the things you’ve done today that didn’t come with specific instructions. Operating a car is not a creative act. However, the path you took to your destination (even with the assistance of a GPS) is. You are making choices that aren’t set in stone. What you eat for lunch relies on instinct (what you feel like eating) and knowledge (what food is available to you, or what food intolerances you have). The rest is up to you.

Everyone is creative - it’s just that we often think it’s other people. Recognise what you already do, and then build from there. Confidence breeds creativity. So work on the confidence stage first.