That’s it. That’s the big creativity lie that people tell themselves all the time. They see a wonderful work of creativity and turn it into a creativity killer for themselves. They hold it in such high esteem that their own creative potential seems paltry in comparison.
Think of the most creative person in the history of the world. Subjective, sure…but just play along for now. Is it a famous artist? An inventor? Thomas Edison, maybe?
For the sake of the example, let’s assume Thomas Edison – who held a mind-searing 1093 patents – was the most creative person in history. Ok…we’ve established this now. But wait!
According to the logic above, Thomas Edison (reminder: the most creative person ever) wasn’t creative.
- Thomas Edison did not invent sandboarding (duh Thomas, come on!).
- Thomas Edison failed to create a way for humans to fly.
- Thomas Edison had nothing to do with this 1965 Mustang made out of beer cans.
- Plus billions of other creative works and ideas Edison didn’t initiate…
Seeing something creative and telling yourself you can’t match up is completely true. Why? It has already been created. Creativity should not be a comparative attribute. Is it more creative to maneuver a business to increase profits 140% or to write a thrilling novel?
There is no comparison here. They are different expressions of creativity. Comedy films can’t be pitted directly against horror films (though poor horror films can turn into comedy).
At the same time, it is unwise to ignore other creative works. When Thomas Edison saw that someone had invented the automobile, he went ahead and made an electric automobile. The gas and electric automobiles were both creative ideas.
Thomas Edison’s creativity had absolutely nothing to do with what he did not do. It had to do with what he did; interestingly enough, almost every patent of his was a utility patent. In other words, he focused his creative energy for maximum effectiveness.
There are an infinite number of ideas that you will never have. But someone else’s discovery or creation of a brilliant concept does not squeeze you out of the creative picture.
Your mind is completely unique, meaning you have the potential to come up with some ideas that nobody else has thought of.
There is ample room for everyone to be creative. And yes, creativity can be learned.
Where The Mind Goes Wrong
Since I have had this feeling of creative inferiority while admiring some of my race’s fascinating ideas, I know there are others out there. There is a progression that leads to a small error in judgment and perspective. From this small error, we are dealt a devastating hit to our confidence in our ability to be creative. (note: do not follow these steps!)
1. You see a great idea that someone else came up with.
2. You acknowledge the impressive quality, ingenuity, and impact of the idea.
3. You realize that you were not likely to ever think of this particular idea.
4. You oversimplify via comparison – “That person came up with great idea #2538 and I did not.”
Them – 1. Me – 0.
5. This direct comparison clearly shows that they are more creative than you are. You should leave the creative work to them. Not only that, but there are countless examples of amazing creativity in others besides you. There are so many ideas that you’ve missed out on.
Yank The Root Out (Also Works For Teeth)
The root of the problem starts in point #4 – oversimplification via comparison. The flaw is in how we think of ideas. If we think of ideas as a limited resource, then each new idea we see is a nail in our plain, run-of-the-mill coffin.
Truthfully, we should be encouraged that so many people have so many great ideas!
Most of the battle of being creative is battling fear and doubt that you can’t think of quality ideas. The power of belief is strong and we must use it to our advantage!
I am a very creative person when and because I believe I am. When I doubt that, my creativity suffers. When my creativity suffers, it gives credibility to my doubt. See the cyclical nature of this and the negative momentum it generates?
We can not afford to doubt our creativity, so let’s choose to believe that we are the creative powerhouses of the world. Once you believe it and start living it, you’ll be amazed.
I’ll leave you with a story I told on a guest post I wrote for Firepole marketing:
The CEO of a major publishing firm hired a group of top psychologists to examine the differences between creative and uncreative employees. After a full year of research, what do you think the difference between the two groups was?
The creative group believed they were creative and the others did not. That’s it.
Afterwards, said CEO implemented a creativity program for the uncreative employees and they became “many more times creative” than the original creative group.
Everyone can be creative. Everyone can innovate.
(story is from Thinkertoys - Amazon affiliate link)