I was talking to a friend of mine the other day (let’s just call him Bob – cliche I know!) and we got into a conversation about creativity (can’t remember how we got there!). Bob started telling me about how he’s noticed that he generally isn’t creative with anything! In summary, he feels that he hasn’t got a single creative bone in his body and instead he tends to create things out of other people’s work. So his m.o. is to take the best out of each piece of work done by someone else and use that to create his own…hmm. He also said that in times past, he has tried to be creative and delve more into himself to outwardly express that in whatever form he can think of but it felt forced and he couldn’t continue. In essence, creativity isn’t something that comes naturally to him.
I have to say, I admire his sincerity in acknowledging that. However I beg to differ that some people just haven’t got creativity in them and here’s why – perhaps what we have come to define as creativity is fundamentally wrong in the first place. As I listened to Bob, it dawned on me that he hadn’t realized that even the ability to take the best of and original ideas from other people and create something new of his own is creativity in itself! Oxford dictionary defines creativity as follows:
The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness:
That definition sums it all. Creativity is born out of original ideas. Some people have a gift for coming up with original and unique ideas but they may not necessarily have the intuition to activate those ideas into creativity. Others are gifted with the ability to see the end result or by-product of original ideas and create something new out of those ideas. I believe Bob falls into this category. It seems to me that where we – and by we I mean our generation – may have gotten it wrong is that we have mistaken innovation for creativity. Innovation is the introduction of something new or different. Examples would include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the endless plethora of social media sites and apps we’re inundated with, but creativity has to do with creating something new out of pre-existing ideas. The many great creative artists of our time like Michael Buble, John Legend and Beyonce were all influenced by artists that came before them such as Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin and The Beatles etc. A popular musical movie (one of my favorites) has a song that goes “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could”, recognize it? Even innovation comes from somewhere for e.g a desire to improve communication and global accessibility brought forth innovations such as airplanes, telecommunications etc.
Having said all that, I can resonate with Bob’s thought patterns and why he would think he hasn’t got creativity in him. In an era of young, tech savvy geniuses like Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom and Mark Krieger (founders of Instagram) to mention a few, it would be easy to assume that such intellect and creative power is reserved for a select few who have somehow tapped into this secret, mystical, inaccessible part of the brain that houses all intelligence and creativity that the majority of the human population are just not able to reach or attain (we shall get there one day!). How I wish I could sit down one day with these guys and gain some insight into the way their minds work. I wouldn’t be surprised if I discover that they would shatter any preconceived notions I may have had about their creative prowess. I suspect that their ability to transcend the norm may have a lot to do with their ability to believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to. That combined with a desire to improve things, intelligence, hard work and a knack for pushing boundaries is a powerful force that can be unstoppable.
Perhaps Bob’s perception of creativity is skewed. It’s important to know what creativity is not just as important as it is to know what creativity is.
- Creativity is not trying to be someone else. For e.g. if I tried to be Oprah or write like J.K. Rowling, I probably would be the worst impersonation of them ever because that is just not who I am.
- Creativity is not this mystical, unreachable state reserved for a select few.
- Creativity is not innovation, but there could be a symbiotic relationship between both.
Maybe our environment and the way we’re brought up to think plays a role in why we may feel that we have no creativity on the inside of us. Many of our parents (through no fault of theirs) taught us to believe that to be successful, you had to become a doctor or lawyer (no offense intended if you’re either 😉 ) but we have now seen that is not the case. In a quest for success, we stifle the innate creativity we have all been born with, chasing after professions that are not a reflection of our natural ability .e.g a dancer trying to be an engineer. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be successful in whatever we choose to become, but it does mean that we are in effect “forcing a round peg into a square hole”. Let me at this juncture state that I’m not in anyway or form suggesting that we quit our day jobs and pursue creativity, but if you wish to pursue a dream or passion and get creative, by all means do so! I shall duff my hat to you for it takes guts.
If we spent more time birthing to life the ideas we either have or come across and developing the skills and gifts that we all have on the inside of us, maybe we would see more creativity geniuses amongst us. I recently discovered a fellow blogger’s work whom I was absolutely blown away by, check out: urbanwallart.wordpress.com/portfolio-images/ – an artist who uses spray paint on canvas to create unique works of art! Now that is what I call creative.
So what do you think guys? Is Bob creative or not? Are some people born with a creative gene while others are sidelined in the creative gene pool??
I guess the summary of all this is to say THE BEST REPRESENTATION OF YOU IS FOUND IN THAT WHICH COMES NATURALLY TO YOU. Just my two cents…
Aside – If you couldn’t guess the movie I was referring to, here’s a blast from the past: