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“I’m just not very creative.”
In college, I majored in art and I can’t tell you the number of the conversations about selecting majors that ended up with the other person making a statement like that. As if by birthright only art majors can make the claim of being creative. But this was terribly wrong thinking, and if you’ve ever thought something similar to that yourself it could be hurting you and your career or business.
The sentiment is a common one it seems. In this survey done by Adobe, only about half of the respondents in the US believe they are creative. Back then, when someone would tell me they weren’t the creative type, I always felt somehow they were selling themselves short. It wasn’t until I started learning poi and other fire arts that I began to understand why.
Poi is a particular type of object manipulation, akin to juggling. Like juggling, it takes time to learn coordination and skill with the tool. First, I began with some very basic moves. Just trying to spin the poi by my sides without hitting myself was a challenge. Eventually though, my skill progressed and I built up a “vocabulary” of moves, different visual patterns that could be made with the poi and had cool names like The Weave, Butterfly, and Flowers.
As nice as the visual patterns are to look at, there was nothing creative about the practice until I learned how to put this vocabulary together in an expressive and spontaneous way. That’s when poi became an art form for me. Until then, I was just learning how to swing weighted socks around my head.
My experience with poi eventually led me to the understanding that anything you might consider ‘art’ is actually made up of two parts; creativity and craft. The craft is the artistic skill used to make art, and creativity is the spark of life or the ingenuity behind it.
So when someone declares that they aren’t creative, they are failing to make this distinction.
We see an artist and we assume they must be creative to do what they do. The confusion happens when we think that the opposite must be true as well. I can not (paint, draw, sing, write) as well as the artist, so I must not be creative.
Everyone is creative!
The need to be creative is part of being human. It’s a need we all have and a need that must be fulfilled in order for us to find engagement in our work, our relationships, and our lives.
The good news is that just by thinking that you are creative, you are likely to become more creative. So if you’ve ever thought you weren’t creative, stop that!
Realize also that creativity happens in everyday life anytime you solve a problem or have an new idea. The person who invented the wheel, thus creating the foundation of civilization, was a creative genius; so was the person who sewed sleeves on to a blanket and called it a Snuggie. And you too, are a creative genius!