Creativity is Not a Gift

There is a myth that creativity is an exclusive gift bestowed on a lucky few who are naturally creative. The reality is that creativity is a skill that everyone already possesses, although some people are more creative than others. With the same resources, different people will come up with different solutions — some more successful than others.

Sadly, the innovation skills we learn as children at play atrophy as we enter adulthood. According to one study[i], the average child thinks of 60 alternatives for any given situation. The study also found, however, that the average adult thinks of only 3 to 6 alternatives for the same situation.

Buckminster Fuller wrote, “Every child is born a genius, but is swiftly degeniused by unwitting humans and/or physically unfavorable environmental factors.”[ii] Or, as Land wrote in his final report on the Breakpoint study, “noncreative behavior is learned”.

While a small part of this tapering of creativity may be due to heredity, for many it stems from individuals failing to express their creative potential. For others, creativity has been buried by rules and regulations.

Fortunately, creativity skills are not perishable—they don’t have an expiration date. Creative ability can be enhanced, improved and applied like any other skill. If athletes can be coached to perform better and musicians can learn to play better, certainly people can lean to think better and be more creative.

It is a mistake to think that innovation is an activity rather than a capability. Given sufficient motivation, instruction, and patience, everyone can reawaken and raise their level of creative skill. The first step is to believe you are creative.

 

[i] Land, G., & Jarman, B., Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future—Today. New York: HarperBusiness, 1992.

[ii] Buckminster Fuller, Children’s Literature, “Every Child is Born a Genius”, Volume 9, 1981, pp3-6.

Bob Roitblat
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Bob Roitblat

Bob Roitblat is a Leadership Capabilities Expert and TEDx speaker. He helps organizations ignite creativity, overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Bob is also the president of Mainsail Consulting Group, a business-advisory firm. Also connect with Bob on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

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Bob Roitblat
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