Creativity: Who Has It and Who Doesn’t?
Deconstructing 5 common misconceptions about creativity
Everyone is creative.
This is a statement, pillar — heck — a philosophy that I am constantly exposed to and will always stand by.
But some people — whether they are aware of it or not — are convinced otherwise.
I’ve come across people who have felt they weren’t creative at all or have said to me “I’m not as creative as you.” This will forever be an odd comment, because it simply is not true.
If you think you’re not creative, it’s because you are not allowing yourself to be. The belief that you are not creative is the exact block that disables you from being just that.
But these limiting beliefs about your creativity (or lack thereof) didn’t come from just anywhere.
Let’s break down some common and widespread misconceptions about creativity:
- You have to be highly skilled at something to be considered creative.
Creativity has nothing to do with being good or excellent at something. That’s called skill and whatever skill an individual has developed took hours of practicing to master.
2. Creativity solely refers to the arts.
This is the misconception that bothers me the most. Perhaps it’s because artists often identify as “creatives” as well, which may unintentionally create the perception that creativity is exclusive to artists. Regardless, this is not true. There is a difference between being artistic and creative — and while artists are usually both, this doesn’t exclude someone who is not an artist from being creative.
3. You have to be a genius to be considered creative.
Picasso. Einstein. Beyoncé. Kanye West. These are all people who have been deemed creative. Sure, they’ve gotten a lot of recognition and air time for their creative prowess and their ability to shape culture, but being creative doesn’t require that.
Oftentimes, creativity is a process that you do alone, without an audience. In fact, it doesn’t require attention or recognition at all. It simply requires an idea, an intention and action.
4. Creativity is on a spectrum.
“You’re more creative than I am.”
“I’m just not that creative.”
These statements are emblematic of a culture that pushes unhealthy competition. People tend to think that there are those who are simply better at generating innovative ideas.
Here’s the thing, thousands of people probably had the idea to develop the computer or the smartphone, but guess what? Only a few had the skill and the resources to do so.
Creativity is not some innate trait that only a few have. It is a quality that all humans possess, but we are fooled into thinking that people who have a certain knowledge base, resources and the drive to manifest an idea are more creative than us.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. People with a knowledge base, resources and drive to manifest simply have the upper hand. It doesn’t make you less creative or them more creative.
5. Creativity is inspired.
Creativity is not just about drawing inspiration from your imagination. Oftentimes, it’s a combination of both inspiration and knowledge.
A defense lawyer in court doesn’t refute her client’s prosecution through pure inspiration. She already has hard data and talking points prepared from studying her client’s case. She uses these talking points and data to creatively defend her client against the charges presented by the court and the prosecutor.
Look, if you are alive and making decisions every day, you are a creator. Therefore, you are creative.
Creativity can be 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.”
There is no other way around it. Every day we are tasked with creating our own realities.
How we choose to confront our crush or our bully requires creativity. How we choose to dress ourselves for an interview versus a barbecue requires creativity. How we tell a story versus how we write one requires creativity.
Creativity is about self-expression and problem-solving. It’s about designing your desired reality by producing what you want to see expressed in the world.
This takes analyzing the several possibilities at your disposal and making a choice.
We all do this and the irony is: we don’t have a choice.
The truth is, you come up with creative ideas all the time, you just don’t bring them to life.
Maybe someone already did.
Or, you shot them down because you were sure that somebody else would.
Maybe you’re in an environment that would not support it.
Or you’ve fallen under the spell of believing the misconceptions listed above.
All of these reasons are valid and reflective of environment and societal conditioning playing a huge role in how we view creativity.
But imagine what could be produced if you decided to listen to and manifest the ideas that pop up in your head, big or small.
Let’s cut to the chase:
You don’t have to be brilliant to be creative. Or highly skilled… or artistic… or inspired 24/7.
That song you’ve always wanted to write, that business venture you’ve always wanted to explore and that invention that you want to patent is waiting to be expressed.
You want to be creative? Understand that you already are and take action.