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something that doesn’t exist already. You need to find out how you can
bring it into being, and that way be a playmate with God.” - Michele
to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of creativity is artistic or
intellectual inventiveness. Creativity is marked by the ability or
power to create or bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to
produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence
something new. When you create something, you are actually bringing it
into being, making it from nothing. But how do you make
something from nothing? How do you achieve creativity? What is the
essence of creativity?
Perhaps only magic can explain
creativity, that sudden “aha!” moment when it all comes together. Some
have said that it’s something mysterious and puzzling, perhaps
impossible to figure out. Some have said it must be divine
inspiration. Creativity is simply thinking the impossible, and then
doing what no one else has done before, sometimes developing completely
new worlds. If you’ve taken a new approach to a problem and it works,
then you’re using your creativity.
Creativity comes in many forms.
It can be scientific creativity, resulting in inventions or medical
cures. It can be artistic or musical, resulting in beautiful paintings,
sculptures or operas and songs. It can be creative writing, resulting
in novels, short stories and poems. Creativity can even be as simple as
arts and crafts, such as needle arts, yarn crafts, and woodcrafts -
things you create with your own two hands.
The important thing to remember
is that creativity includes generating the idea or concept, as well as
applying that idea and producing or manifesting the end product or
result. Creativity or imagination is an integral part of being human
and separates us from the animal world. Carl R. Rogers said, “The very
essence of the creative is its novelty, and hence we have no standard
by which to judge it.”
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you Think You Are Creative?
truly happy people are children and the creative minority.” - Jean
ever watched five-year-olds at play? They are curious and highly
creative in their games. They don’t know yet, what they don’t know.
Their creative limits have no bounds; no one has told them that they
can’t do something. They’re fearless explorers, artists, or musicians;
some are even comedians in the making. They have not yet been pressured
to conform and they think they can do anything and that nothing is
beyond their capabilities.
Research shows that every human
being is capable of creative thought. We have creative abilities that
often show up very early in life. Studies show that the average adult
thinks of only three to four alternate ideas for any given situation,
while the average child can come up with sixty. They have proven that
as far as creativity is concerned, quantity equals quality. Having the
subjects make a list of ideas, they have shown that the longer the
list, the higher the quality of the final solution. The very best ideas
usually appear at the end of the list.
Actually, creativity is bred
into us as humans; it’s in our genes - a part of our very DNA.
Unfortunately, as we grow older, the pressures of having to grow up, go
to school, get a job, all seem to repress our creative tendencies. The
stress of everyday living, coupled with occasional dilemmas, leaves us
too drained to be truly creative.
But creativity is power and is
essential to our well-being. Without creativity, our lives become
predictable, routine, boring, and pedantic. The good news is we can all
be highly creative. Now I know you’re saying, “But I’m not at all
creative. I can’t paint or even draw a straight line, I don’t know one
note from another, and I’ve never been able to write worth a darn.
Poetry? Don’t make me laugh!”
Okay, so most of us are not
Mozart, DaVinci, Einstein, or Shakespeare. However, we are all creative
in our own way. We simply have to recognize our own unique talents and
skills. Ask yourself these questions:
Are you constantly looking for new goals, something new to accomplish?
Do you like to look at what already exists and ask “What if?”
When you try something new and different, does it make you feel smarter?
Do you enjoy teaching someone a new skill?
Are you good at problem solving?
Then, pat yourself on the back
- you are a “creative” person! Creativity doesn’t always result in a
tangible product. Sometimes its ideas, problem solving, or teaching;
but it is indeed, creativity in action. Creativity enables us to better
ourselves, develop awareness, and expand our horizons as well as those
of other people.
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When the potential for creativity meets the promise of skill, you’ve
made contact with the creative spirit. There’s no holding you back now.
You’ve received that flash
of inspiration, that “aha!” moment of illumination, and you are ready
to take those creative risks.
Now, you’re probably wondering exactly what it is that you need to do
to assure yourself of creative success. You do need certain tools and
skills to accomplish this task. First, you need a certain expertise in
whatever arena you’ve chosen to pursue your creativity in. If you have
zero knowledge in the field of science, odds are you will not make the
next fantastic breakthrough in medicine or invent the replacement for
the wheel. You must find the field that is your special interest and
Some expertise is essential for success.
The next tool essential for your success is the ability to think
creatively in your chosen field - being able to imagine a whole realm
of possibilities. That includes the ability to turn things over in your
mind until you find the answer. Persistence is required - that
determination to keep on tackling a problem until you solve it. Know
when to turn things upside down and look at them differently. You must
know when to nurture the process of creativity and when to let it rest
in your mind until it’s ready to fly free.
Another vital tool in this
search for creativity is courage - to be willing to take the creative
risks and try something you’ve never tried before. You have to be open
to whatever new possibilities that present themselves to you. You never
know when ideas will come.
Lastly, you must have passion -
the desire to succeed no matter what. It doesn’t matter what the end
prize happens to be or what manner of compensation you might receive.
The passion is all that’s important - the desire to make whatever
works, no matter what. Albert Einstein said, “Sticking to it is the
Most importantly, you must face
any creative risk with the mind of a child. Childhood is when
creativity first comes to you. Will it grow or be stunted? You should
play like a child.
Children may not realize it,
but playtime is actually a learning process. It’s the brain’s favorite
way to learn. The child learns about math, verbal skills, music, and
visual arts during playtime. They learn to explore and they learn the
thrill of discovery. They learn about their own culture and others as
So, is it true that children
are more creative than adults are? During the Industrial Revolution,
two hundred years ago, this country devised the educational system and
started training people to be good little workers and always obey
instructions. This didn’t leave much room for individuality or
nonconformity in our thinking. The good news is that today’s
educational system, for the most part, allows children to be more
freethinking and creative.
Childlike creativity should be
studied and emulated. Let yourself think that anything, even something
outrageous, is possible. This will help you develop creative
connections. The non-creative mind says, “I can’t,” but the creative
mind says, “I can and here’s how!” If you can see, speak, hear,
remember and understand, you too can be creative. Never, ever say
you’re not creative. Whatever you believe or disbelieve about yourself,
How do you feel about being
creative? Do you tie creativity to strange, artsy, or flaky behavior?
Do you feel suspicious of those with that description? Or maybe you
automatically tie creativity with extremes of madness or psychosis.
“I’m too down to earth to be creative!” you protest.
Sometimes you are in possession
of facts already known to the world at large. The difference is in your
organization and interpretation of those facts. Perhaps your creativity
lies in your ability to take a room full of people and convince them to
make a buying decision. Maybe you’ve saved your company millions of
dollars with a single idea. Ever resolved a conflict in your family or
company? Guess what? You’re creative!
Maybe you’ve even been told how
talented you are in a particular area; you may even know it to be true.
So why be shy about it? But what do you do about it? How do you go
about unleashing all that talent? How do you nurture it?
Let’s go back to the idea of
being more childlike, unhampered by daily life and stress. Let’s play!
Grab a drawing pad and colored pencils, and draw circles and patterns.
If you have children of your own, borrow one of their coloring books
and crayons, and join them in the coloring fun. Make objects of
outrageous colors, just as children do. Color outside the lines, way
outside the lines! Find yourself some clay or Playdoh and start
sculpting; it doesn’t have to be anything in particular; just have fun
with it. Squish it, cut it, slice it, and then mash in all together
again. Try making shapes with the clay.
Now you’re asking, “What on
earth is the purpose of all that nonsense?” Well, there is no purpose,
you just need to play, have fun, and be free. It’s amazing how much
your brain will appreciate this ‘no purpose’ playtime. You suddenly
discover that you’re more relaxed. You may even feel happy. Even your
breathing rhythm is different while you’re playing. Instead of the
short, shallow breaths you take when you’re stressed, you’re now
breathing deeply. You’re not experiencing the ‘fight or flight’
sensation. You’re totally relaxed. You need to push the worries and
stress aside once in a while. Do not worry about problems or deadlines,
and just play, with no purpose whatsoever.
Just a few minutes a day of the
‘no purpose’ play will make a world of difference in your creativity,
problem solving, mediating, teaching, or anything else that you do.
You’ll soon realize it’s time to take that talent to the next level, so
let that creativity come out more often and let yourself go. Stephen
Nachmanovitch once said, “The most potent muse of all is our own inner
Keep in mind though, that
talent is not enough. Let me repeat this. You must have absolute
passion and discipline to develop your creativity. You must be
dedicated to commit to your talent.
What does the word creative
make you think about? Breathtaking art? Totally original thinking?
Exciting musical composition? Astonishing inventions? Have you let
yourself believe that it’s impossible for you to be creative?
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You may have let yourself
become a creature of habit over the years. Have you condemned yourself
to be incapable of creative thought? Perhaps you’ve been stuck in a rut
or boring routines, and you feel that you couldn’t possibly be capable
Now, imagine how your life
would be if you’re allowed to live it creatively, every day. You know
you’re creative and talented. What if the world around you treated you
as such and you were allowed to nurture that talent, enhance your
skills, and give your creative personality the attention it needs and
deserves? You’d trust your own creative passions, be capable of solving
any problem, and embrace your own creativity as a part of your very
life - one of the necessary components to your happiness and mental
health. Remember that pure enjoyment is a key ingredient in your
creative life. Eileen Caddy said, “Live and work but do not forget to
play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.”
You Need to Integrate
Creativity into Your Life
“Leap and the net will
appear.” Julia Cameron
we’ve established the fact that everyone is basically creative. You’ve
recognized the creative energy that you possess; and that creative
energy must go somewhere or be applied to something, or you will find
yourself unhappy and unfulfilled, without understanding exactly why.
The benefits of adding this
creativity to your everyday life are numerous:
Better control of your life
Unbelievable satisfaction - at last, you’re expressing yourself,
applying this creativity to all aspects of your life, you’ll discover
even more benefits.
So, how do you apply your creative energy to your daily life? You apply
that newly discovered creativity to family and relationships, to work,
and to your community. It’s time to explore all the possibilities and
perhaps better our world. Simply start with your own little corner of
it. You must implement those marvelous new ideas to your information
gathering and problem solving. Create checklists and plans.
Adapt a new idea; give it a twist. Allowing your creative side to show
can make you more competitive in the corporate world. You can look at
something that everyone else has looked at, but see it in a totally
different light. Give it that twist. Go with that hunch, that
intuition, that special insight the creative person possesses. “A hunch
is creativity trying to tell you something,” said Frank Capra. Those
little creative moments are vital to every area of your life.
Once you start on this creative journey, you’ll discover that your life
is filled with the “aha!” moments. Push beyond the mere routine and let
yourself come up with dazzling visions or earth-shaking ideas.
Webster’s Dictionary defines innovation as the introduction of
something new or different. The National Innovation Initiative (NII)
defines innovation as “The intersection of invention and insight,
leading to the creation of social and economic value.” So take that
creativity and let yourself be innovative!
Jack London once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go
after it with a club.” If you need to come up with new ideas, say for
work, try brainstorming. You can do this alone or with others. This
works especially well in the work environment. Many hands make light
work, and many minds make marvelous new and unique ideas. It also makes
for a convivial work place. Just let your mind go wherever it needs to
Then you must act on your creative impulse. Without action behind it,
it’s only just so many facts, a little knowledge. Albert Einstein said,
“Creativity is more powerful than knowledge.”
Creativity in the Work Place
minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” -
In today’s competitive world, it is more important than ever for
businesses to attract and keep highly talented people. In order to do
that, they must provide a work place environment that is challenging,
creative, and fun. Since creativity is at the root of innovation and
invention, it would behoove all companies - large, small, or in between
- to help promote a creative atmosphere in which this talent may
flourish. What better way to get a huge return on their investment?
A two-year in-house creativity course offered at General Electric
resulted in a sixty percent increase in concepts available for patents,
according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 1999, after investing over two million dollars in research and
development, Hewlett Packard generated more than 1,300 applications for
When the Sylvania Company offered several thousand employees a
forty-hour creative problem-solving course, their return on investment
came to $20 for every $1 they spent.
So how can your company keep its employees happily coming up with
great, innovative ideas?
Look for these creative people. Recognize them for the intelligent
innovators that they are.
Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to creativity. You need to let
the ideas come forth and thrive. Be tolerant about ideas that don’t
work out initially. There’s always a next time when more fresh ideas
can be implemented.
Acknowledge the people in the company who generate new ideas. It’s
important to foster that creativity and show visible support. Champion
Reward the creators with public recognition, monetary rewards, or both.
The workers and the managers
should bring about creative changes in the company together, shaping a
fellowship that allows for a feeling of safety for those creative
ideas. It should provide an environment where people can feel secure
about expressing those ideas, without being fearful of criticism or
The feelings of respect and
trust for one another will foster inspiration, and dismiss any
negativity or critical judgments. The perfect atmosphere would be one
of encouragement, motivation, good training, and lots of opportunities
to be creative. This would provide the necessary creativity to the
No longer would you go to a
work place that fills you with dread each day. The job that provides
you with money for food, clothing, and shelter, not to mention a few
luxuries, could also be a pleasant haven during the workday. You’d have
security and status, but without so much stress. If your creativity is
allowed to blossom, your heart and soul for your career returns as
well. This could change the face of the work place. Implement this
yourself and see if you can make a change for the better in your own
Many companies try to avoid
putting creativity back into the work place. They feel it could lead to
chaos. They say that it would be illogical, unruly, and uncontrollable.
This needn’t be the case, if approached in the proper manner.
If you encourage
creativity within your company and support the talented people, it will
help you compete, regardless of your industry. According to Fortune
Magazine (January 1998), highly motivated employees are up to 127% more
productive than those averagely motivated employees in complex jobs.
It’s simple - if an employee feels satisfied and encouraged in his job
and happy with the company, he will become more motivated and thereby
become more productive. A happy worker is a productive worker!
Unfortunately, our country has
become a nation of workaholics. We feel if we’re not busy 24/7, we must
be slacking off; we must produce nonstop or other people will think
that we’re lazy. But busyness for its own sake is a sign of low
self-worth and should be avoided. Even God rested after working for six
It’s okay to sit and do nothing
once in a while. Sometimes, you have to let a problem sit awhile and
incubate in your mind. The answer will come more easily if you stop
obsessing about it. Even daydreaming is useful. If you allow
your child to daydream, they will develop a higher IQ. Why not do the
same for yourself? Remember too, that play is just as important for an
adult as it is for a child.
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Believe it or not, the number
one concern of employees at any level of a company is not money, but
the desire for a good balance between their work life and their
personal life. In order for good employees to keep up with the level
expected of them, they must attain a certain balance of work and play.
Vacations, occasional personal time, and a pleasant work place are
essential for their careers and their health.
There’s a Zen saying that the
bow kept forever taut will break. This is very true. We need to play
and relax in order to be productive. Play, even at our work place,
makes us happy and joyful. It clears those cobwebs out of the brain and
allows us to think more clearly, thus becoming more productive. The
problems that seemed beyond your reach while brainstorming might come
so much easier when your mind is free of stress and worry.
Creativity and play are
essential these days. We’re all looking for more purpose in our lives,
and we’re beginning to re-think our jobs and careers as well. Job
security is a thing of the past; and unless employers begin to
recognize and encourage creativity on the job, there could be radical
In many companies, smart
employers are beginning to see the advantage of closely-knit teams
working together to form creative, problem-solving forces. They’ve
begun using a more open kind of office, omitting walls between the
departments. They’re making use of more computers and other forms of
communication with each other.
Department heads are working more closely with the lower levels, so
they are aware of what’s happening at all times. The chain of command
is made simpler, responsibilities are expanded, and creative and
innovative ideas are welcomed and encouraged.
In any job or profession, there
are problems to be solved; and where there is problem solving, there
will be creative thought. The first step to solving a problem is to
know everything you can possibly know about the problem. You must know
how it started and what caused it. Get hold of all pertinent
Start to look at all the facts.
Figure out how they fit together. Sometimes, you’ll find that unlikely
elements can start to make some sense together. Try not to fall into
what scientists jokingly refer to as “psycho sclerosis” or hardening of
the attitudes. This just means not falling back into the “this is the
way we’ve always done it” syndrome. If it has always been done that
way, why is there a problem with it now? Obviously, it isn’t working
now, so it’s time to figure out a new way to do things.
Watch out for the notorious
“inner critic.” (More about that in another chapter.) This is simply
that little voice in your head that tells you it’s impossible for you
this problem. It’s the old “if others haven’t been able to solve this
muddle, what makes you think you can?” critic. Disregard this voice.
Unfortunately, you might also hear this selfsame voice coming from
others as well. Remember the words of Mark Twain, who said, “The man
with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
Watch out too for the
frustration that can come at you. Long hours of preparation and
anguish, when the answer doesn’t present itself, can often lead to
total frustration with the whole project. You just want to throw up
your hands and yell, “I quit!” But don’t! That’s just the “darkness
before the dawn,” as they say. Stay persistent. The answer is out there
and you’ll find it; just don’t give up. It’s not that a problem is
unsolvable; sometimes, people just give up too quickly.
Sometimes, you just have to let
that thought simmer in your brain for a while, let things gel a bit.
Maybe you just need to “sleep on it.” Let your subconscious work on it
for the night. (More on the subconscious in another chapter.)
Often times, going on about
your usual business, getting ready for work, showering, and shaving
will break the dam and the brilliant ideas just pop to the surface of
your brain. A long walk or a drive in the country will make all the
difference. You just need to relax and let those ideas simmer in your
brain until they’re done. Maybe it’s time to play!
Try to take a break often
during your day and let your mind rest a bit. Our world is encroaching
on our thinking time, all during the day. Your boss, associates,
teachers, students, even television, all want to tell you what you
should be doing, every minute of the day. Sometimes, you just need a
break from all the mind controlling going on and think your own
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Whether it’s on the job or at
home with your family, the creativity you possess is a vital tool in
your life. Have faith in your own creativity. Don’t be so hard on
yourself if things don’t work the first time. Be an observant human,
watch everything, learn, and don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions.
You know what they say - the only dumb question is the one you didn’t
Details on nurturing your
creativity, creativity and use of the brain plus the relationship of
creativity and genius plus much more is explored in the remaining
chapters of this section that's included in the colossol Mind Brain
Nurturing the Creativity Within
Oops! It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
Enemies of Creativity
Creativity-The First Cousin to Genius
Left Brain, Right Brain
10. Creativity and Change
11. Baby Boomers and Creativity
12. Zen and the Art of Creative
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