In January, you may recall my musings on introspection and self-reflection. I also shared some quotes that underscored my thoughts, and hopefully, some of them resonated with you too. Today, I am pondering creativity.
What is creativity, and why do we need it?
The word “creativity,” in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavors. If asked to define creativity, people might describe a genius such as Michelangelo or Mozart, both of whom created ground-breaking masterpieces. However, what about creative thinking, which is a very different thing? Creative thinking means breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. Instead of focusing on making a masterpiece, one would be focused on creative thinking skills, and coming up with original ideas to improve something. Think Steve Jobs.
Creative thinking is an essential part of everyday life, both personally and professionally.
Creative – or divergent – thinking is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. A creative process may begin with a flash of a new idea or with a hunch. It may just start as noodling around with a problem, getting some fresh ideas along the way. It’s a process, not a single event, and genuine creative processes involve critical thinking as well as imaginative insights and fresh ideas. Unfortunately, the potential for divergent, self assertive thought and action is diminished in many sectors of society. People who ‘rock the boat’ and question authority are too often seen as a threat to established patterns. This has led to a breakdown in sensitivity to needs, the generation of ideas and the production of creative solutions. It has even led to a breakdown in how we teach our children. Instead of pushing rote memorization, we should be encouraging kids to experiment, to innovate—not giving them all the answers, but giving them the tools they need to find out what the answers might be.
Growing Up Creative
All children can be creative, but sadly, growing up and remaining creative is not easy. Although I don’t recall having art classes in grade school, or being particularly challenged to come up with creative solutions to problems, I was a creative child nonetheless. Outside of school, I could be found writing, reading or drawing at any given moment—I had a crazy active imagination! A lifelong learner with a profound sense of curiosity, I have nurtured many interests, especially towards the creative—I have no problem teaching myself a new skill. Not all children are so fortunate. I recall when my son didn’t follow the art teacher’s direction and completed his project with his own special twist on it. She was upset that his finished product didn’t look like her example and proceeded to lecture him on “following the rules”. I, in turn, lectured her on the value of nurturing creativity, not squelching it. Needless to say, my now-grown son is not artistic, but he is an excellent problem solver.
Why Creativity Now?
Following is an important interview with creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson as he makes the case for creativity as a crucial 21st century skill we’ll need to solve today’s pressing problems. Give it a listen, or read the transcript here.
Quotes Inspiring on Creativity and Imagination
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” —Scott Adams
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” —Joseph Chilton Pierce
“A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations.” —Gerald Jampolsky
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Without creativity, we are all less inspired, less inventive, less resourceful, less socially aware, less globally aware, less of a society… and ultimately less human”. —Nigel Carrington
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ―Joseph Campbell
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” —Albert Einstein
“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” —Pablo Picasso
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” —Edgar Degas
“On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” —Antoine de Saint Exupéry
“I am a creative person; therefore, this grants me the right to be misunderstood.” —Andy Warhol
“Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” —Albert Einstein