Am I Creative?

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Artists' Corner
Tags: , , ,

I don’t quite know what to say when I hear people say, “I’m really not creative.” Usually, I have a little cognitive dissonance, ask a few more questions, shrug it off, and go about my way. But the more I ponder it, the harder it is for me to accept that any given human being is not creative.

Maybe it’s all in how we define the term “creative.” Renown thinking expert Edward de Bono felt that the word “creativity” is too loaded with different meanings for different people and that it is too value-laden. So he coined the term, “lateral thinking.” Lateral thinking is a skill of seeing things from a different perspective. It is like being able to jump trains from one track to another and make both abstract and concrete correlations along the way. As a skill it can be practiced, modeled, and taught to others.

The problem with thinking that creativity is something you either have or don’t have, is that it limits our ability to improve our skills. I believe that we were made in the image of God, a God who is Creativity itself. Creativity is not limited to the arts, but often extends into business, social relationships, mechanics, and even competitive sports. The people that realize they are creative are simply the ones that put value and energy into the creative process.

Merely labeling people creative or not creative is a little like praising a kid for being smart. Though telling a kid he is smart might be a statement of truth, it does little to cause that child to grow in skill. At the first sign of difficulty, the child may question his innate ability and may give up trying because he “just doesn’t have what it takes.” However, praising a child for his effort, telling him specifically what he did right, will cause that child to repeat the effort exerted and do a better job. When he comes up against difficulty, he will remember that it is effort that is the thing. He will push through any obstacle and do better than ever before.

Usually people who don’t see themselves as creative either have a narrow view of creativity or have “failed” at their attempts at creativity. Rather than try another creative endeavor or persist in their thinking, they give up, concluding that creativity must not be their thing. Most people underestimate the time it takes to develop creative muscles. In the midst of building those creative muscles, a creator may face a lot of perceived failure and rejection from people who just don’t understand the process they are going through. The ones who end up being labeled as creative are the ones who simply keep going when others would have given up.

I believe that the ability to create is a God-given pleasure that the Creator has endowed us with. That’s right, a pleasure. Some people are so judgmental of themselves when they are creating, that they miss the pleasure of it. We love to view other people’s creation on our TVs, computers, and smartphones. But I think more of us would be happier if we took time to create just for the sake of creating, to spend more time pondering and developing the ideas that float through our brains. The more creativity is allowed to flourish, the more fascinating and enlightening life will be.

Share some of the process you have gone through as you have chosen to label yourself either “creative” or “not creative.”

  1. Monika says:

    Glad to hear that all the time I spend at work is a creative endeavor. That is encouraging.

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