I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across bright, motivated executives who – when asked – say they’re not creative. Similarly, I don’t know how many times in my talks, workshops and writing I have said that we are ALL creative. I believe this to be true without exception. I believe that part of the problem when it comes to people downplaying or outright dismissing their own creative ability is the standard for what counts as “creative.”
Just as it feels like common sense to say that we are all endowed with a certain amount of creative ability, it also makes sense not to compare ourselves to the icons of creativity in various fields. In other words, it is reasonable to say that anyone can tell a story but not everyone is Stephen King. More importantly, we don’t have to be Stephen King to benefit from incorporating storytelling into our communication.
The reason I bring this up is twofold.
First, by comparing ourselves to the exceptions (the genius, full time creative types), we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and – perhaps worse – discouragement. This is an unnecessary comparison and one that doesn’t do anyone any good. On top of that, just because you’re not Steve Jobs doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute to the creativity of your team. Teams need creativity – and creative awareness – at all levels in order to function at their best.
Secondly, in a business context, even if someone on your team IS brilliantly creative, that feels like a risky way to incorporate creativity across a department or entire company. For example, that brilliant creative might have a creative slump or even leave your company all together. Might it not be better if everyone were to explore their own creativity so that at the very least they can understand – and contribute to – the creative conversation? I’m not saying that everyone has to contribute equally but I am saying that putting all of the creative weight on just a few shoulders could cause problems down the road.
I’ve spent my entire working career in the arts and while there are countless ways of finding and harnessing inspiration, there are also creativity-damaging behaviors to avoid. First on that list is comparing your creativity to the creativity of those around you. Better to explore your own creativity, celebrate the creativity of your peers and idols and know that there is room for all creativity.
Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.