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No Matter What You Believe – You Are Creative!

What is shocking to me is how many people don’t think of themselves as being creative. Whenever I give a speech, I ask the audience if they consider themselves as creative. On average, about 1/3 raise their hands which means 2/3 of the audience self classify themselves as non-creative.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
2 min read
yes - you are creative no matter what anyone else says
Rearview shot of a diverse group of young designers brainstorming around some images on a wall

What is shocking to me is how many people don't think of themselves as being creative.  Whenever I give a speech, I ask the audience if they consider themselves as creative.  On average, about 1/3 raise their hands which means 2/3 of the audience self classify themselves as non-creative. I have a completely different opinion. You are creative!

I'm a believer that everyone is creative and that you are creative every day … you just don't always recognize it.

For example, you say at least one sentence each day that has never been spoken before.   This unique sentence is the result of the creative process of translating an idea/thought to actual words.

Everyday creativity manifests itself in what we may consider as everyday tasks:

  • Cleaning the house:  In my case, it takes me forever when I'm trying to clean the house before my wife gets home.  In her case, she can get it done 10x faster.  Why?  She has creatively optimized the process (what to do first, what to use, etc) of cleaning the house.
  • Fixing the plumbing:  When it comes to building something such as fixing a plumbing problem, my everyday creativity shines.  The ability to conceive, design, collect the parts and then build the final solution is a result of the creative process.
  • Parenting:  Finding ways to motivate one of the kids to do something they don't want to do is creativity at its best!

Why do people have such a hard time considering themselves as being creative when they do it every day?  First, they don't recognize every day tasks as being the result of creativity and second, they consider creativity as a gift of God or something in the DNA.  For those of you who believe this, I've found proof that creativity is not a gift.    Dr. Dean Simonton, from the University of California – Davis, has research that shows that between 22% and 36% of the credit for creative ability is explained by natural endowment (DNA, etc).  The rest (between 64% and 78%) is explained by:

  • Practice – Creativity is a skill that you can lean.  Once you learn it, you need to practice it like any other skill.  To become proficient, you need practice everyday.
  • Encouragement – Just as we all need encouragement to lose weight or go to the gym, we all need encouragement to stick with it.  One way is to find others who are like-minded such as innovation groups on such sites as LinkedIn.
  • Access to resources – As with any skill, you need access to the best resources such as books, podcasts, workshops and mentors.

So now you know that the majority of your creative ability isn't some special gift.  Don't set back and let others be creative.  Take the initiative and build up your own ability to be creative in everything you do. Remember – you are creative!

How many ways have you been creative today?

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Phil McKinney Twitter

Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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