The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Jonah Lehrer on creativity. Jonah is one of my ‘rock gods’ (i.e. people who rock my brain) and if you haven’t read ‘How we Decide’, I’d definitely recommended it for some fun learning/reading.
He’s written a book on creativity that comes out next week (Feel free to get me an early birthday present) and the article covers some of the myths of creativity and proven tactics to become further connected with yours. If you’ve studied creativity as a practice, this will most likely not be new to you. Get out of the office space and into space of where you’re inspired, ideas usually come through brief moments of insights and so on. If you’ve considered yourself creative, some of it will be validating. The difficulty of creating on a deadline, daydreaming helps and chaotic thinking is part of the process.
While I love talking about creativity, I become frustrated when it’s referred to in a simplistic Holy Grail manner. It’s one of those words like innovative. On a general level we 'get it’, but to completely understand and integrate with the idea of how to do to it relative to the end goal, we need to be more specific.
For example, I consider myself creative. That doesn’t mean I will paint like Salvador Dali or cook like Eric Ripert anytime soon. Most of my creativity lies in the thinking, analyzing and feeling realm. I like to work through problems and come up with solutions. It’s fun, I get excited when I do it and ideas randomly pop through my mind at all times of the day. It goes beyond 8-5:30, it goes beyond what's been delegated to me, it’s a part of me. Will my creative endeavors ever be in the Guggenheim? Probably not. I’m cool with it.
Too many people get hung up on the word creative and assume it’s synonymous with artistic. My grandmother was creative as I’ve seen her orchestrate many yummy, family meals on a nonexistent budget with just a few ingredients. I had an ex-coworker get excited at the challenge of combining several data inputs from various sources into a manageable pivot table for me to use. That’s impressive and creative.
Just like leadership, everyone has creativity embedded within their make-up. But, like any characteristic, it is expressed in different ways. So although it’s helpful to use public/popular examples as reference, use yourself as the primary point of context.