Creatives v. The Rest Of Us

I like the work of the RSA very much and enjoy their articles, posts and animations. But their continued use of the noun “creatives” is becoming wearing. Here’s the latest: Street based business training for young creatives

When I hear or read the word creative as a noun it’s often in the plural – as above –  as in statements like; “We creatives … “ (finish the sentence with the stereotype of your choice.) How annoying is that? – The world divided into creative and non-creatives with you in the latter category just because you are not in the fashion, art, music, design biz. So what are the rest of us?  Drones? Chopped liver? Minced monotony?

Ok – so it’s true – there are amazing artistic and imaginative people out there and they break ground with their leaps of imagination and inventive capacity. And for myself – it is completely accurate to say that I have little talent for the traditional creative skills. I don’t paint, draw, play an instrument, compose music, make poems or anything remotely useful like that.

But I do like to play, see the play, test the play, tug on the elastic, explore the edges and dwell in the possible worlds of What if? and How might we? I like ideas and have them – good, bad and all points in between – all the time.

So out with this equating of creative with artistic.  And in with the idea that to be human is to be creative.  In with the celebration and of the creative potential in all of us.

And yes, that still does mean we can recognize, appreciate and be astounded by those whose artistic achievements and talents leave us open-mouthed in wonder and admiration. It takes nothing from the exceptional to declare that to be human is to be creative.

Ok – so having cleared that away let’s think of creativity as a mindset in the Carol Dweck growth sense of that word. If we start to believe that creativity is for others – those special talented folks who were somehow born with the ability to write like Shakespeare or compose like Shostakovitch, paint like Picasso or dance like Pavlova – then we confine ourselves to a box that does not have to be. Mind-forged manacles of unimaginative, mundane mediocrity

Like intelligence, creativity is not a fixed entity that we either have or we don’t. It is rather an innate human characteristic. We are born creative. We confine ourselves to non-creative status by a drone mindset that tells us creatives are a special breed like Aberdeen Angus cattle or leghorn chickens.  You either have it or you don’t and most of start to believe we don’t.

Such is the myth of creativity established and how it takes roots in the mind.

And what a dangerous mind-set it is and especially toxic for children who will need all the creativity they can muster to tackles the challenges ahead.

So if we are all creative, where do we find the confidence to act on that? How do we build the creativity muscle in others and ourselves?

This is why I am looking forward to reading Creative Confidence by the Kelley brothers Tom and David due out on October 15th.

With their creative pedigree (IDEO and Stanford dSchool) the Kelley brothers have something to tell us about that creative confidence which they define as follows:

“At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you. It is the conviction that you can achieve what you set out to do. We think this self-assurance, this belief in your creative capacity, lies at the heart of innovation.”

This is what we need for ourselves and for our students.

To be continued.


1 Comment

  1. Good morning from Hong Kong. Thanks for a great morning read.

    ‘We are born creative. We confine ourselves to non-creative status by a drone mindset that tells us creatives are a special breed like Aberdeen Angus cattle or leghorn chickens. ‘

    I think this is so very true and those statistics which show how creativity declines from kindergarten onwards show this.

    Looking forward to part two.

    Have a great day.


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