I hear it all the time.
“That person is more of the creative type.”
“I am not really a creative person.”
“I feel like I mesh well with creatives.”
But if creativity is a category that we can put people in and out of, what exactly is it?
I believe most people associate creativity with the ones who amaze us with a paint brush or an instrument. Creativity is credited to the film makers and the actors, but those are just talents and skills paired with creativity.
Creativity is not definied as “being an artist.” It’s not being a musician or designer of any sort. While those obviously involve creativity, it is so much bigger than just artistic expression.
Creativity: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination. - Dictionary.com
Creativity is simply an expression of imagination that creates new ideas or methods.
Here is a statement I will always stick to: EVERYONE IS CREATIVE. Think about it this way: the Creator of the universe – the one who faceted all existence, from life beginning in the womb to movements of the weather – this creator God created us in His own image. If we are created like Him then we are designed to create. If you doubt your ability to create, you just haven’t discovered what you are already creating or helping create. Creativity is in us all and it doesn’t always present itself as “art.”
I like to think of creativity as solving problems. I love to find ways to make life easier wherever I am investing my time and energy. That takes creativity. We all solve problems, and we all do so with different perspectives. That’s important. Your perspectives and ways of problem solving are what make you different and needed.
You may be thinking: How can what I do be creative? Well, have you ever dreamed of new ways to do what you do? Have you ever changed your schedule to make your life easier or more enjoyable? What are things you do that instill passion in your life?
You don’t have to tell a kindergartener how to be creative. You just hand them some play dough and they create. We may not exactly understand what it is they're creating, but they sure do. You give some kids a few costumes and they are now the king of their own castle, jedi knights bringing balance to the force or saving the world as the next superhero. They have yet to have anyone tell them that they aren’t creative. They haven’t been given a standard for what creativity is.
We were born to be creative and creativity is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger you get.
This leads me to a few practical steps. If you apply just two or three of these 10 things below you will be more creative in whatever you do. You may not mesh well with all of them, but try a few of them and see what happens.
Pay attention. You never know when something is going to stick out or become something that you could create with. We gain creative ideas from the things around us. Always be wondering what you may find or see. You’ll start noticing the small details, and I believe great things happen when you pay attention to the details. We can all create good stuff, but even greater things happen when we start noticing the details.
Your best ideas come in your faders (when you are going in and out of sleep). At the moment it may sound like a terrible idea but still: write it down. My phone is always with me so I take notes and send myself emails all the time. When I am in the process of waking up in the morning, God gives me all sorts of ideas. I go to work with ten new things on my list due to ideas I woke up with, but if I don’t send that email to myself right away I lose them.
The best creative ideas come from learners. Learn from others ahead of you because there will always be someone ahead of you. You just have to find them. Grab lunch or coffee with someone in your field that you look up to. And read. You have to do some reading. We are a publishing and programing generation so soak in all that is out there.
Document the things that you like. Not only will it give you a lot of content but it will help you see the world differently. My team has a shared iCloud folder that notifies our phone every time someone places a photo in that folder with a comment. I will even be watching a movie or a commercial at home and will pause it to take a picture. Basically, if I like it I take a picture of it.
You need to communicate with people. Things we create are always better when they are done in community. Of course, it can be scary to share your ideas and to share your feelings. It can be scary to share the things you are learning or processing through, but communication is key. Get around people you can talk to and share with. Then be willing to hear what they might have to say. What’s the worst that could happen?
Most people love an adventure. If you sit in the same room to do work in the same space everyday it gets really stale. We tend to have a desire to move and to get out. We take days off work and work in different places like a coffee shop, park or at another company’s workspace. Sometimes it’s just to do normal work, but a change of scene can also help us think outside the box: you change perspective and you change the product you are creating. This is just basic and simple. What you change around you will reflect on what you are creating.
Download some apps, check out pinterest, look up art blogs. It’s not a waste of time. Do your research and find out what’s out there. Google, one of the biggest companies in the world, allows their employees to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they would like. Their employees get to spend unstructured time researching and coming up with new ideas while on the job. About half of their products that come out in a year have been created in that 20% time frame. Things like Gmail, Orcid, and Google News. Everything I do today and have learned as a skill, I did from searching Google and figuring out how to do it. I actually have a fake diploma in my office from “Google University.” There’s a lot of resources out there to learn from. Utilize them.
I like to hangout in a room with music on, but it’s good to find a quiet place. You might fall asleep, but that’s okay. Just get alone and let your mind wander. Even ask God to reveal ideas to you. HE WILL!
Music massively impacts your creative process and environment. It sets the tone and atmosphere. Some of you work in a cubical. Put on some headphones. Just like soundtracks affect the moods and energy of films, music can affect your level of creativity.
We can learn so much from motion pictures. I always pay attention to where the story is going, or at least where I think it is going. I notice how they shot the scenes and make note of what creative elements they used. I love seeing movies and I love seeing them in the theater. Most of us will never be able to actually create a motion picture, but watching lots of films is a good exercise to do.
We were created to do something and the minute we were created to do that, a force came to keep us from doing that. A resistance. Being a follower of Christ we realize what those things are, but even as Christians we are capable of quitting at the moment of resistance just like anyone else. But quitting is letting the resistance win. It is allowing yourself to doubt, be angry or not be motivated. You can collect all sorts of insecurities if you give in but people need your “creativity!” The Church needs to be a community of people that want to create together. If you decide not to join in because you don’t think you’re good enough or that people may not like your ideas, then you are not living to all that you were created to be. You are disadvantaging the Church through your absence.
I know I said ten, but I added one more. I can do that because this is my blog.
Creativity is for the bold, relentless, curious, ruthless, hopeful, uncompromising, loving, and Christ-like. So I leave you today with a statement and a quote. Go and find your inner creativity. The world needs what you have to offer it. The ones that are bold enough to be vulnerable and put it out there are the ones making a difference.
Here is to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, agree or disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, about the only thing you can't do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward. WHILE SOME MAY SEE THEM AS THE CRAZY ONES , WE SEE GENIUS. BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO ARE CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD ARE THE ONES WHO DO. - Apple Inc.