A few years ago, my colleague asked a bunch of us in the room ‘Do you think you are creative?’. Some responded ‘Umm I guess’. One said ‘Oh yes absolutely’ without a second thought and I said ‘No’. That ‘No’ was a flashback to many decisions I made to avoid anything that needed me to be creative. 

Creativity has a scary name to it and we need to debunk it. 

In this blog, you will dive deeper into the meaning and process of creativity and how to unleash the skill to learn better. 

Over time, creativity has been put on a pedestal with a black or white spectrum. An individual is either creative or not without any gray areas. There is no research to prove this. 

What is Creativity? 

Cambridge Dictionary defines Creativity as the ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative. 

If you look closely at this definition, does it show any bias towards arts or an artistic individual? No. This definition helps bring focus back to the true meaning of creativity – originality and ability.

What is ability? It is a skill. What is originality? It is the ability to think independently. If you break down the definition, creativity is a skill to help us think independently

In 2016, I read Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley. It is a great book to understand the meaning of creativity and how to build creative muscle.

I will share three practices and actionable tips from the book and how you can utilize these for your learning journeys. 

Practice 1: Give space for ideas to brew

You must have heard of the phrase ‘Ideas come from everywhere’. The ideal case scenario we hope for is to get ideas in our cozy environments and pray that it works. The book suggests that you should increase our environments and exposures to build the creative skill. 

Tip: Speak with people from different walks of life. If you are thinking of upskilling and wondering what direction to take, speak with those who are in your path and those who are leading a different one. Ideas can arise from people who have faced circumstances that you have not. It is key to increase perspectives to build the creative muscle. 

Practice 2: Give fears mild pep talks

Learning is a journey and sometimes it has winding roads and mountainous paths. You need creativity to solve problems and fear is an obstacle. The fear of failure or simply put the fear of feeling stupid should be given doses of optimism. 

Tip: Every time fear takes shape in conversations, respond with ‘So What?’ This is a powerful tool. Let’s take an example here. If you are afraid of messing up a brainstorming session at work, ask yourself ‘So What?’. It is key to give yourself chances to fail and rise

Practice 3: Be open

This might sound cheesy but this is one of the tipping points where individuals fail at supporting their creative muscle. Begin with many ideas, then taper down by eliminating them. It’s similar to convergent and divergent thinking that we discussed in this article. Remember that all ideas are underrated until eliminated based on evidence. 

Tip: Be optimistic about all ideas at first. If you are learning a skill with your peers and struggling to solve a problem, be willing to speak through all ideas. Say ‘Yes, let’s explore’ before the first ‘No’. 

Unlearning Thought

Just like learning, creativity is a process and a product of effort and consistency. Be better at something one day and one inch at a time. 

Here’s a relevant article about ‘How to learn outside the box’? Bonus – There’s a cool puzzle to solve! If you have feedback or recommendations, please reach out to me via Twitter or LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you!