Creativity

Introduction 

Craftwork.
Realizing you have different interests, hobbies, and passions in life.
Engaging in drawing and painting.
Asking your friend to get your nails done.
Tapestry art.
Ignoring negative people and focusing on the good things in your life.
Visualization. 
Imagination.
Traveling the world.
Yearning to lead a more fulfilling life. 

These are all examples of creativity, and they only show you how versatile creativity skills are as a concept. You can’t put creativity in a box and ascribe definitions to it in the traditional sense of the word. 

That’s a good thing though and it’s precisely what makes it such an amazing discipline which we hope to help you understand with our article! 

Let’s get onto it now, shall we? 

What Is Creativity? 

Oxford Learner's Dictionary defines creativity as “the use of skill and imagination to produce something new or to produce art”, Merriam-Webster defines it as “the ability to create”, and according to Cambridge Dictionary creativity is “the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas”.

None of them are wrong. But they’re not completely right either. In essence, creativity is such a versatile term that it requires a much broader perspective and a deeper understanding. There are a plethora of definitions surrounding creativity, but we don’t think creativity can be defined in the traditional sense in the way we didn’t believe it can fully conform to the typical historical classifications. In other words, there’s difficulty in arriving at a unified definition. 

That said, that doesn’t mean there are no definitions out there to explain creativity skills. We’ll share three of them:

“The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: to apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.” 

- Maria Popova

“In science, we define ‘creativity’ as an idea that is novel, good, and useful. It’s a little broader than the Oxford Dictionary’s definition, where it’s just the ability to create, because that doesn’t really say much. You can create something and it’s not very useful or it just won’t work well.

Pooling from this wealth of knowledge we store in our brains and making connections between different ideas, we have to solve a new problem, or create, write a new novel — that’s what science looks at when we study ‘creativity.’ Just to drive home the point, this is very much a function of the brain. There’s no need to invoke all that folklore into this. It’s our brains doing what they do.”

- Michael Grybko

“Creativity is expressing your ideas in a full-contact, full-color way. It is using as many senses as possible to express an idea. It is the zone from which great, useful things are created.”

- Pam Slim

Which one do you agree with the most and why?

Definition of Creativity 

Creativity is a never-ending pursuit

Now, this section deals with what WE believe creativity to be and all it entails. Well, almost all, as we’re sure there’s always something to be added and elaborated on when it comes to dealing with creativity. 

Creativity is: 

  • having fun with your thoughts;
  • a discovery; 
  • feeling passionate about something and not wanting to stop until you reach your end-goal; 
  • a never-ending pursuit (although at times you may even not know what you’re looking for);
  • being open to the unknown; 
  • motivation (both intrinsic and extrinsic); 
  • embracing your individuality; 
  • resourcefulness; 
  • promoting your beliefs without imposing them; 
  • an intelligent way to do even the most basic stuff;
  • originality, authenticity, and adding a personal touch to your creation (whatever that may be); 
  • thinking actionable thoughts; 
  • meaningful thinking; 
  • ascribing value to the things that matter to you; 
  • brainstorming; 
  • constant evaluation and progress (which isn’t always linear); 
  • innovation and later on implementation;
  • both an abstract (theories and ideas) and a physical creation (such as music, books, paintings;
  • enlightenment; 
  • demonstrating flexibility in your own patterns; 
  • competing with yourself (and yourself only); 
  • having your own framework for reference; 
  • considering a variety of aspects; 
  • doing things on your own terms; 
  • consulting others, but without forgetting your own opinions; 
  • stepping away from the norm;
  • creating opportunities even if there are none;
  • elaboration, verification, and preparation; 
  • breaking the rules so that you can make things better;
  • imagination running wild and free; 
  • self-mastery;
  • coming up with outside-the-box solutions; 
  • a bunch of ideas and thoughts that rummage through one’s mind; 
  • experimenting, inventing, and having your own voice.

Creativity isn’t:

  • plagiarism or stealing others’ work; 
  • procrastinating;
  • being narrow-minded and/or self-absorbed; 
  • burnout; 
  • solely the domain of writers, artists, painters, designers, or ‘right-brained’ people;
  • being successful at all costs; 
  • having an attitude; 
  • predictability and common behavior; 
  • waiting for stuff to happen; 
  • forcing others to share your own views about a specific issue/thing; 
  • being worried about what other people think; 
  • excluding everyone else; 
  • thinking you’re more intelligent than others; 
  • crossing ethical lines; 
  • possessing “regular” knowledge and intelligence in the traditional sense of the term; 
  • being biased and selfish in your decisions and actions; 
  • following the crowds; 
  • making basic assumptions; 
  • ticking off a list with a bunch of criteria;
  • a fear of making mistakes; 
  • following blindly others’ advice and suggestions;
  • always enough (creativity can’t magically solve all things, but it can sure make the process easier).

The History of Creativity 

Talking about the history of the concept of creativity isn’t as chronological or as straightforward as talking about other concepts and skills. We believe creativity goes beyond traditional classification(s) and divisions of historical periods. 

That said, the term still isn’t immune to the conventional historical interpretations. It has been “treated” differently in various societies and thus has been interpreted and used in a distinct manner. For instance, in ancient Greece creativity didn’t have today’s interpretation - they only saw art as a discovery. As Plato stated in the Republic: "Will we say, of a painter, that he makes something?", to which he answers, "Certainly not, he merely imitates.

In Rome, the concept was slightly changed, but it wasn’t until the Christian period when things started changing promptly. Namely, the term “creatio” came to denote God’s act of “creation from nothing”. This meant that there was a greater acceptance of things being created, rather than solely being “an imitation”. 

In the Renaissance period, on the other hand, we started noticing the concept of creativity changing (and is more or less similar to the modern concept of creativity we have nowadays). But it wasn’t till the 17th century when the word “creativity” was used for the first time - the Polish poet Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski used it, although he applied it just to poetry. 

Today creativity is all around us - it’s not a traditional skill, yet we have the ability to be creative. It’s very real, yet it allows us to be imaginative and inventive. In other words, creativity is so versatile that tracing its beginnings would be not only impossible but unfair as well. It’s something that simply exists as such. But we did trace its beginnings only to show how much it’s changed and how we got to have it with the meaning it exists today. 

A model of the creative process 

One of the most well-known models of the creative process is Graham Wallas’. Apparently, he saw creativity as a four-stage process as follows:

Stage 1: Preparation (the first phase of the overall process when the individual collects information, data, sources and explores the issue at hand); 

Stage 2: Incubation (in this phase the individual analyzes the matter internally and forms new ideas and connections, although externally very little seems to be going on); 

Stage 3: Illumination (after the incubation stage, the individual seems to get a lot of insights and epiphanies, and the individual manages to make a break-through);

Stage 4: Verification (this is the stage when the individual makes a move - they either start writing the poem, setting up the business, start the painting, and so on; it’s the stage where the idea is finally verified). 

That said, these stages don’t always play out in chronological order - after all, creativity isn’t a straightforward process; it’s more like a spiral. Plus, this model has its limitations, but it still illustrates how the process works. 

Overall, there are many such concepts and interpretations of creativity, but the most significant thing about it is that people can understand it, use it, and apply it even without knowing said interpretations. Creativity is too big of a word to be confined in historical periods. And it’s a special tool saved for humans, so why not use it? John Steinbeck explained this brilliantly: 

“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.” 

Why Is Creativity Important?

Creativity is embracing your individuality

Embracing your creativity skills has a lot of benefits and can truly push you forward in life. In fact, pursuing creativity in all areas of your life can lead to greater fulfillment and overall satisfaction. Here are other examples that show the importance and the impact creativity has on people:

  • people make better choices in life (this includes friendships, relationships, workplace decisions, and so on);
  • It brings more positivity and enlightenment in one’s life;
  • you express yourself better (whether it’s through speaking or writing, you get better at conveying your ideas, but also opening up to people and talking about the things that matter to you); 
  • you become a better decision-maker and problem solver;
  • you can see the bigger picture of things (it’s very easy to “get lost” in life, but when you look at things from a different perspective and accept that things can improve, and/or that they’re already much better than you perceive them to be, you uplift your whole pathway); 
  • it allows you to use your full potential; 
  • you get to understand your feelings and thought patterns much better;

Finally, creativity makes you a better worker and a skilled professional. To illustrate this, we'll share several inspiring statistics about creativity:

  • According to Linkedin Learning creativity is said to be the single most important skill in the world.
  • If you search for “creativity in business” on Google, you’ll get 345,000,000 results (this number keeps on increasing, so today there are  412,000,000 results). 
  • 35% of workers are given the time to be creative at work only several times during the year.
  • Up to 94% of hiring managers claim that considering creativity when hiring job candidates is of utmost importance. 
  • Recruiters tend to rank creative problem solving as the 2nd most difficult skill to detect among job applicants. 
  • According to CEOs, creativity is seen as the number one factor for future success. 

How to Develop Creativity? 

Creativity is best developed when it’s practiced. The more you engage in creative stuff, the more your creativity skills improve. It may sound silly, but it’s a simple truth. That said, there are certain things you can do to boost your creativity levels further. Here are our suggestions:

  • read books on creativity to expand your knowledge (in our Suggestions for further Reading section we have a list of books to get you started); 
  • exchange ideas (nothing can live up to the satisfaction of having several brains analyzing and working on a single idea); 
  • build your confidence (this will make you bolder and braver to actually pursue your passions and follow your dreams); 
  • try various techniques and see which one works for you (such as the “snowball technique” when one idea leads to another and that one to yet another - you get the point); 
  • make time for it (considering how stressful and overwhelming everyday life can be, it’s actually a useful idea to set a time during the day to work on your creative ideas and think about them more thoroughly); 
  • take risks (this one is pretty clear); 
  • be curious (ask questions, gather other people’s opinions but don’t take what they say for granted, and rely on your own experiences); 
  • overcome all your negative attitudes (this includes attitudes toward life such as “Everything sucks”, “Life’s boring”, “Nothing makes sense”, and self-limiting thoughts like “What if I fail?”, “What if nobody supports me?”, “I’m not good enough at this”, and so on); 
  • explore different options (whether you’re solving a problem you’ve had for some time, you want to start a business, or you’re in the arts, keep your options open - sometimes the solutions you have neglected may be the best option to pick); 
  • make a commitment (...to yourself above all! Yes, make a commitment to work on your creativity skills. Start by analyzing your current passions, any past hobbies you may have forgotten about, stuff like that).

Examples of Creativity in Everyday Life 

Artistry 

Whenever the word creativity is mentioned, we tend to associate it exclusively with artists, writers, musical composers, sculpting, and other art-based professions. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, it’s good to know that that’s only one segment of it (as we’ll see later on from the other examples, creativity finds its place in many other areas in our daily lives). 

The concept of creativity in art (any type of art) refers to the actual process of creation as well as the overall process leading to the actual creation. It requires an artist, who is the “doer”, and the creativity, which includes the creative approach the “doer” has. As Osho has put it: “The creator cannot follow the well-trodden path. He has to go alone, he has to be a dropout from the mob mind, from the collective psychology”. 

The arts are well-suited for creative undertakings and discoveries, but a common notion is that you need to be talented or especially good at something to actually call yourself an artist. The truth is that ANYONE can draw, paint, sing or compose a piece of music - but oftentimes it’s the audience and their response that basically determines whether someone has what it takes for them to succeed in their artistic endeavors. So if you publish a book, and it ends up being a success, it feels as though you’re “allowed” to call yourself a writer. 

The truth is that some of these notions need revisiting - as creativity knows no borders and accepts no fear, we may need to reevaluate some of the approaches we have toward aspiring and already existing artists. For instance, if a toddler splashes color onto their art notebook,  are they being creative? Have they created a piece of art? You tell us. 

Finally, if you’re an artist, don’t compare yourself to others - you don’t need to be the next Mozart or the next Ernest Hemingway to be creative and create. Just be yourself, and embrace your individual creativity skills. To understand more about how to do it, take a look at the next section. 

How to approach this? 

  • Why do you do what you do? What’s the driving force behind it? 
  • What aspects of your artistic work do you find creative? 
  • What’s integral to your work as an artist? Can you change your habits? In other words, are you open to changes at all? Why (not)?
  • How has your practice changed over time (if at all)? 
  • What themes do you usually tackle in your work? Is there any recurring pattern? Are you open to new ideas?  
  • Take a look at other artists’ ideas. For instance, Hilary Mantel would advise you the following: “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient."
  • Is this as unique as you can be? Are there certain things you don’t wish to do/write/design and so on, only because you’re afraid of how others might react? 
  • Does this piece of work make your soul happy? 
  • What do you want to achieve with this? Are you doing this to please others or because it truly aligns with your true passions? If it doesn’t, what makes you do things this way? 
  • What’s your favorite work and what does it say about you as an artist? 
  • What do you dislike about your work? Try to be as honest as possible. 
  • What’s the dream project you’d embark on? If you know what it is, why have you been waiting for so long? What’s keeping you from undertaking it? 

Daily Lifestyle 

As we already mentioned, creativity isn’t applicable just to artistic ventures. Madeleine L'Engle puts this brilliantly: 

But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.

Hence, creativity is part of our daily life. We need to be creative in our parenting strategies, in planning our daily food intake and meals, in folding our clothes, and in balancing our work tasks, social life, and workout (while at the same time trying not to burnout). There are many such examples. Honestly, analyzing the ways in which creativity is present in our everyday lives is an endless task. 

It’s part of our most intimate relationships too. We need to love people, build friendships, and appreciate our family in a creative manner. We’re creative when we talk to our partners, when we tell them our needs and ambitions, but also when we’re sad and heartbroken and we need a shoulder to cry on. Each of us does all of these in a different way because we’re all different, and that’s what makes things so special and so important. That’s the creative aspect of our personality. The more we embrace it, the better we’ll be at expressing it. 

Lastly, for many the notion of everyday creativity is a confusing one, as they can’t seem to see the originality or the creative aspect of driving via another route, baking a cake, and/or knitting. But everyday creativity is much more than just about “some” unique aspect to it - it’s about adding meaning and purpose to even the most basic activities and tasks. This doesn’t only make life more bearable, but more interesting and unusual too. 

How to approach this? 

  • Are you attached to a routine? If yes, have you considered making some changes? Also, how do you react to changes in general? 
  • Do you ever feel like you have a lot of ideas but you rarely act on them? If you do, maybe now’s the time to re-evaluate them and try realizing them.
  • What’s your general mood? Are you energetic, happy, and satisfied overall? Or you’re lazy, disinterested, and bored? Do you think about the events and people that contribute to the way you feel? 
  • What do you think about your life in general? Are you happy with it? Do you think you’re living it in the best way possible? If not, what changes can you make, starting today? 
  • Are your relationships flourishing or you struggle to connect with people? If yes (for instance, you may be coming off as being too needy or unapproachable), can you change the way you approach these matters?
  • What’s the highlight of your day? Is it your work, having a glass of red wine for lunch, having coffee with your friends, or engaging in your favorite hobby? Can you find the time to do more of it? 
  • How can you nourish yourself better? Remember, to be of assistance to others, you first need to look after yourself. 
  • What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? And what takes your breath away? 
  • How do you accept your flaws? Do they prevent you from enjoying your everyday life? 
  • Do you think outside the box most of the time (even for the most basic stuff - for example, decorating your shoe boxes to fit your jewelry items, or making key holders out of your hangers)?

Career/Educational Context

Efficiency via creativity

School

Schools are an important institution, that goes without saying, but whether they always teach us important stuff - that’s a completely different subject. While there are many highly-qualified teachers and exceptional students, oftentimes both teachers and students can feel as though schooling has become more or less a routine thing. 

However, is that everything schools should offer? What about more practical skills? Critical thinking? Creativity skills? 

That said, most of these aren’t taught or learned. They can be stimulated and slowly encouraged. It’s something an individual should discover on their own, but encouragement from the right teacher can be a great educational trigger to do so. Although, keep in mind that creativity should at least be discussed and/or agreed upon. As Amber Kane, a high school art teacher explained, “If you’re going to encourage creativity in your classroom, it’s essential you and your students know and agree on what it is”. 

So, basically, if we decide to make creativity skills part of our daily educational practice, it’s important we’re clear on what we specifically understand it to be. That sends a clear message to our pupils too, so they also know what’s expected of them. As creativity is such a huge concept to grasp at times, it’s understandable how and why it can get confusing for many. 

Finally, creativity doesn’t mean chaos and free will in the classroom. Namely, according to Sir Ken Robinson 

Creativity is not the opposite of discipline and control. On the contrary, creativity in any field may involve deep factual knowledge and high levels of practical skill. Cultivating creativity is one of the most interesting challenges for any teacher. It involves understanding the real dynamics of creative work.

Creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. 

How to approach this? 
  • Can you learn to learn more critically and creatively? Schools are great institutions, but sometimes informal education can be invaluable, so considering webinars, seminars, and online courses can be a good start. 
  • Is this subject useful or you’re learning the material only because you have to? 
  • Do you take things for granted only because your teacher explained them? Schools should encourage critical thinking, and not only soaking up knowledge passively (if you want to upgrade your critical thinking skills, take a look at our critical thinking course). 
  • What are your overall thoughts about the education system? Are you happy to be a part of it, or you know you have to do it so you don’t even spend time thinking about it? 
  • If some piece of information sounds weird, double-check it. Never rely on a single source - books contain errors, teachers may misinterpret something, and/or you may mishear stuff. While things such as these do happen, it’s your responsibility to always check the credibility of the information. 
  • Are you learning things by heart or are you actually able to understand them fully and analyze them deeper? Plus, are you able to apply them in practice? 
  • Do you think the standardized tests you get at school are an effective way for teachers to evaluate how much you’ve learned? What kind of testing strategies would you like to see being implemented in your school? 
  • Do you fully understand the role of your teachers and yours? Your classmates? The overall school? 
  • Why? Why? Why? (you can never have enough of the “whys” - embrace your curiosity at all times). 

Workplace

Fostering creativity skills in the workplace is one of the key things being encouraged by the majority of employers. You’ll notice it even from the majority of job advertisements. It seems creativity, critical thinking, organization, and time management are the most sought-after skills. 

And it’s no wonder - after all, they do matter, and they’re an invaluable asset to every skilled worker. However, being creative is much more than just being inventive and coming up with business ideas. 

Creativity skills include a wide range of work-related features such as having the freedom and the flexibility when it comes to how you do your work, being given the option to contribute to discussions in a way you see suitable, sharing your knowledge with peers using various methods, and having the practice of self-reflection.

A lot of employees aren’t keen on the idea to evaluate themselves and the way they do their daily job (or if they are, they aren’t always as impartial as they should be). Although this may be more connected to critical thinking and self-evaluation, it does include an element of creativity. Here’s how employers can present this without sounding condescending: 

When the workload picks up, it’s easy for your employees to become focused on the work and forget about the significance of what they’re accomplishing. 

Encourage employees to get in the habit of self-reflection check-ins. This exercise helps them to focus on what they’ve achieved, as well as what’s coming up next, and helps inspire them to see things differently. 

If possible, also share monthly or quarterly accomplishments with your team so they can see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions. 

Finally, one of the best examples of creativity in one’s workplace is engaging in risk-taking and rule-breaking. An office culture that supports them is a must, although it’s up to the employees to know when and how they can undertake these two challenges, and excel at them. 

How to approach this?
  • Is your workplace a nice environment to work in? What are some things that are bothering you (if any)? If there are, are they contributing to your lack of creativity? 
  • Can you be fully yourself at your workplace? Do you behave differently than you would for example, in front of your friends? If yes, is that because you’re trying to be more professional or because you’re afraid to show your colleagues who you really are? 
  • What compromises am I willing to accept at work? 
  • Is your job fulfilling - financially, mentally, emotionally and in any other sense you can think of? And most importantly, how creative is your job? Also, how creative do you allow yourself to be? 
  • How self-confident are you when you work in a team? Do you take the lead or you have more of a passive approach? 
  • Do you easily get into conflict with the rest of the people? Would your perspective be different if you were on the other side of things?
  • When have you been the most satisfied in your current job?
  • Do you feel you’re making progress with your career? Think about three things. 
  • Are you afraid to stand up to your boss? If yes, is it because you’re afraid of losing your job or because you’re afraid of confronting people in general? 
  • Think about a time when you were faced with an unexpected challenge at work. How did you handle the situation? Looking back at it now, do you think you could have acted better and came up with a more creative solution? 
  • Was there a time when you had to suddenly change your course of action due to unforeseen circumstances? Was it easy for you to come up with an alternative approach on the spot? 
  • What are your strengths/ weaknesses and how do you express them? Also, do you allow others to use them against you? If yes, how do you feel about it? 

Solving problems 

Nobody likes problems and having to solve them, but they are part of our lives and we need to handle them, so we may at least do so by addressing them in a smart way. Creative problem solving appears when all of our commonly used methods and ways of handling problems fail, so we’re forced to look for alternatives. As Albert Einstein explained, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” 

So, creativity is your best problem-solving tool! And the best thing - it’s available to everyone!

Having a creative approach to solving your problems (irrespective of whether they’re personal, work-related, or else) can be very rewarding. Namely, nurturing your creative thoughts can lead to novel strategy discoveries - you’ll look at the problem you’re facing from another perspective, thus come up with a refreshing strategy to handle it properly. 

Next, you may challenge yourself and your already existing conventional approaches. Breaking through your barriers can lead to amazing new experiences, allowing you to reboot your brain and take a fresh approach to solving your problems. You’ll also refresh your focus - sometimes overthinking and over-focusing on your problems can lead to creating more problems rather than actually solving them. 

Also, coming up with refreshing ideas it’s a great way to think of useful solutions (especially such solutions that have never crossed your mind).

Finally, solving your problems in a creative way may include consulting other people. Other people’s suggestions may inspire you and make you consider perspectives and solutions you could have neglected before (plus no matter how creative you may be, we all have some “limitations” based on our current knowledge). After all, it’s very easy to get caught up in fears and unnecessary doubts when it comes to adequately approaching our problems. Having a more objective opinion (such as from a person who isn’t personally invested in the problem) could just be the helping hand that unlocks our creative potential.  

How to approach this? 

  • How do you usually solve your problems and how do you feel about them?
  • Do you tell others about your problems? If yes, are you completely honest about them?
  • Do you follow other people’s advice? Why (not)?
  • Which problem have you struggled to solve the most up till now? What made it so challenging? 
  • Are you in a rush to solve your problems? Or you tend to think things through? 
  • Once you solve a specific problem, are you happy with the solution(s) you came up with? If someone else has the same (or a similar) problem, are you willing to share with them how you solved yours? 
  • How do you harness creativity when it comes to handling some everyday issues? Can you keep a cool head or you become angry and can’t think straight? If it’s the latter, then such behavior can be a massive block to opening up to creative ideas. 
  • Try using visual boards, brainstorming, and/or other techniques that can help you understand your problem(s) better. Outlining it/them in such a manner can lead to a lot of realizations and knowing how to proceed. 
  • How do you deal with other people’s mistakes if they concern you? Are you open about it or you ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist? 
  • Have you ever been caught off-guard by a problem? What was your initial reaction? 
  • Are you aware of your weaknesses when you’re trying to solve a problem (for example, are you way too subjective, can’t think straight, stress more than you should, and so on)? Can you think of ways to work on them? 
  • What is your coping mechanism when you feel all’s lost and unsolvable? 

Famous Quotes About Creativity 

Creativity is self-mastery

“Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” 

- Arthur Koestler

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use the more you have."  

- Maya Angelou

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

- Jim Jarmusch

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” 

- Erich Fromm

"Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way."

- Edward de Bono

“Let your creative and imaginative mind run freely; it will take you places you never dreamed of and provide breakthroughs that others once thought were impossible.” 

- Idowu Koyenikan

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.” 

- Deepak Chopra

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” 

- Pearl S. Buck

“Creativity is a continual surprise.” 

- Ray Bradbury

Rational thoughts never drive people's creativity the way emotions do.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Creativity is breaking the rules

What are the qualities of a creative person?

Creative people have a lot of qualities and characteristics they can be proud of. While the list below isn’t an exhaustive one, it certainly highlights some of the key qualities a creative person is supposed to have:

  • energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, and hopeful; 
  • although their mind may wander, they show high discipline levels when it comes to their priorities and main responsibilities; 
  • curious, ambitious, self-aware, and witty; 
  • finds ways to enjoy their life and work; 
  • nurtures interpersonal relationships; 
  • isn’t afraid of changes; 
  • has no trouble embracing their creativity skills and enhancing them further; 
  • is open to what life has to offer; 
  • grabs opportunities; 
  • open-minded but don’t lose their main focus and end-goal; 
  • able to work under pressure because the thing they’re working on matters a lot to them; 
  • doesn’t allow to be affected by discouraging societal norms and/or consistent peer pressure; 
  • runs all errands with a creative mindset and a cheerful mood; 
  • rebellious, but without hurting others, belittling them, and/or imposing their views and opinions; 
  • generates new ideas and isn’t afraid to act on them; 
  • never stops learning and expanding their horizons; 
  • admits when they’re wrong but embrace the event as a learning experience; 
  • doesn’t perceive their sensitivity and playfulness as a weakness; 
  • knows when to accept others’ suggestions and when to take lead; 
  • is able to see several steps ahead; 
  • knows how to eliminate stress, anxiety, and worries from their life (as they’re creativity’s worst enemy); 
  • a hopeless dreamer, but doesn’t lose touch with reality; 
  • could be either extroverted or introverted (creativity knows no limits, right?); 
  • isn’t afraid to experiment and take occasional risks; 
  • knows how to turn their flaws into strengths; 
  • doesn’t mind being disorganized at times (although this doesn’t mean leaving in complete chaos, procrastinating 24/7, and/or never getting things done);
  • shows their playful side and embraces their inner child freely; 
  • tries to never lose their passions - they only reinforce them as they develop throughout life; 
  • never loses sight of the bigger picture. 

Is creativity a sign of intelligence?

We believe there’s a direct link between creativity and intelligence. That said, creativity is very versatile and there are many types of intelligence (such as intrapersonal, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, and so on), so it could be a bit of a challenge to explain the connection between these two quite properly. 

Plus, there’s also the following thing we need to consider: intelligence can be tested and somehow evaluated (there are many intelligence tests available nowadays), whereas creativity can’t be assessed using the same criteria. And that’s precisely what makes it so special. But, when it comes to trying to “assess” a particular creative undertaking, it seems that we are led by our own personal set of criteria as well as our personal capacity to comprehend such matters. 

Also, it’s worth mentioning some tend to equate creativity and intelligence. For instance, according to Renzulli, “a gifted individual has both high intellectual ability and high creativity; intelligence and creativity slightly overlap in this meaning”. So, the intelligence levels a person has can determine the creativity skills this person could potentially develop throughout their lifetime. 

In fact, not only is creativity a huge indicator of intelligence, it’s even considered to be the highest form of intelligence one can attain. Consider the following

Creativity is the highest form of intelligence because it goes beyond knowledge recall and extends into knowledge creation. Someone intelligent can be very knowledgeable and have excellent information recall (let’s say for a standardized test), but creativity and innovation require some novel form of intelligence that is of a higher order.

What are the barriers to creativity?

Creativity is flexibility

Sometimes we may find ourselves discouraged from realizing our ideas, applying for a specific job, following our dreams, or simply living our life the way we want to.  Other times we may even sabotage ourselves. Whatever the reason may be, there are many barriers to creativity. Here are the most common ones: 

Fear of the unknown 

Pursuing our wishes can be a huge challenge because we don’t know what awaits us, that is, what obstacles and problems may pop up along the way, so it’s easier if we don’t start at all. There’s a lot “to lose” if things don’t turn out the way we imagined them, so we may think it’s better if we never start anything.

Lack of self-esteem and self-confidence 

These two can be major blocks on our way to creativity. We need to realize why we have such issues with ourselves, where they stem from, and finally, we need to find a way to face them and gently let them go.

Laziness 

This one is pretty much self-explanatory.

Low motivation levels 

If we don’t find a way to motivate ourselves nobody can. What’s more, lack of motivation can even happen if you’re way too focused on the end-goal, and it seems as though it may take you a lot of time to actually get there so you feel there’s no point to even start.

Peer and society pressure 

Having our peers and family members disagree with our ambitions, goals, and wishes can be a huge obstacle on our way, especially because we want unconditional support for the things that matter the most to us.

A lack of support from the environment 

This may include, but it’s not limited to family members, friends, a partner, colleagues, to name a few.

Not thinking proactively enough 

Sometimes we have a lot of ideas, but we’re so focused on them as abstract notions that we don’t think about ways to materialize them here in the physical.

Personal biases 

These are things such as limiting beliefs, poor values, thinking low about oneself, struggling with self-worth issues, and so on.

Suggestions for Further Reading 

While we strongly believe in the power of practice, we find theory to be just as important. After all, there’s nothing more impressive than finding a book that speaks to you, right? That’s why we chose books that deal with the notion of creativity (they’re all page-turners!), and we hope you’ll find them inspiring. 

Here’s the list:

  1. The Book of Doing: Everyday Activities to Unlock Your Creativity and Joy, by Allison Arden 
  2. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
  3. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best selling book, by Paul Arden 
  4. The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking, by Roger L. Martin 
  5. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, by Jocelyn K. Glei
  6. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert 
  7. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, by Austin Kleon
  8. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, by Twyla Tharp
  9. A Technique for Producing Ideas: The Simple Five-Step Formula Anyone Can Use to Be More Creative in Business and in Life, by James Webb Young
  10. Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, by Michael Michalko
  11. The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice, by Todd Henry
  12. Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are, by Danny Gregory

Final Thoughts 

On the whole, creativity is an amazing faculty that never ceases to surprise us - it has no limits, knows no restrictions, and it’s available to everyone as long as we’re ready to embrace it. 

It’s a very useful tool that can bring change to all areas of our lives, but we need to work on it at all times. If you want to learn how to develop your creativity skills further, we’re happy to let you know that we have an amazing online course on creativity. We cover so much more than what we’ve shared with you here:

  • why not everyone should be an artist; 
  • how to properly brainstorm; 
  • the six thinking hats; 
  • the “do something” perspective; 
  • using metaphors; 
  • harvesting ideas, and so on.

Did you sign up yet?