Are You Sure You Are Not Creative?

Many people are held back by self-defeating ideas about what constitutes creativity. They look at examples of creativity that they admire, great artists or musicians, and believe that those creative individuals likely special ‘gifts’ and fantastic IQs. Well, very special creative sorts may indeed have a gift or talent, but not typically a high IQ. And, everyone has some sort of gift for creativity.

Research shows highly creative people rarely have great IQs. In fact, past an IQ of 120 (which most of us would be very pleased to have as that is the upper 25% in ‘Intelligence quotient’) one’s ability to have great creative insights decreases. In other words, really intelligent people with high IQs tend to be less creative. Often this revelation is met with skepticism. If creativity isn’t a form of intelligence, what is it? And why do they call some people a ‘creative genus’? In truth, creativity is something other than intelligence. Otherwise, very intelligent people would automatically be very creative, and such is not the case based on research. We recognize creativity as something like intelligence. Yet, intelligence, as it is typically measured, is not about being creative.

Exactly what creativity is, or is not, is something that has been debated for centuries. Smart people will argue all day about what is creativity. Creative people skip the whole debate and create things. We do know that all people with a healthy brain (and many with unhealthy brains) can show signs of creativity. When subjects engage in creative exercises it has been measured that particular parts of the brain become more active while other parts of the brain become less active. Typically, the right side of the brain becomes more active and the left side of the brain ‘relaxes’. Which may explain why many people report that pursuing a creative activity like painting, poetry or music tends to relaxes them. So, why do some people seem to lose the creative instincts they usually display as a child?

Becoming too judgmental or too much of a perfectionist

All of us seem to learn, at some point growing up, that the ability to be honest and critical with oneself is a good thing. While this is true, there’s a difference between being honest with yourself and second-guessing yourself to death. Being creative is about being natural, flowing freely and simply getting in touch with one’s feelings. You may wish to draw not what you actually ‘see’ but how you experience what you are seeing. You may want to ‘put things together’ not in their typical order but in the order you would like to see them. Too often, growing up also means being judged by others … parents, friends, teachers and so forth. When it comes to creativity, everyone has an opinion, for better or worse.

We have all been around highly critical people, growing up, who believe that criticizing other people is a great way to look smart. This is particularly true with the creative arts. From movies, to painting, traditional art to modern arts, there are loads of people who think they understand what ‘art’ and ‘creativity’ really is. It is no wonder most of us have learned to tone down that inner creative voice. The voice we most often hear are those who say we are not that good artistically. Or, the voice that says, ‘do not do anything to creative, it could get you in trouble’. The last thing we want is to be shamed or made to look stupid … even though creativity has little to do with intelligence.

Opening up to creativity

To get in touch with your own creativity you need to unlearn the habit of unnecessary self-criticism and create a sense of joy about exploration. Art, creativity, is all about venturing into the unknown. That is how creativity works. That is how art keeps happening. One should keep in mind that creativity is not about how smart you are, it is often about how much heart you want to express.

While it is wonderful to study and learn about what great artists and creative people have achieved, it is not helpful to think you must somehow equal what these successful people have done. Nor is it important to try and exactly reproduce ‘their’ style of art. For instance, many great writers are of the opinion that you cannot write about the world and about life without experiencing the world and YOUR life, first. Wherever you are, whatever your life, creativity is possible.

Everyone has some urge to create. It can be learning to write like Hemingway or it may just be designing and building a new deck. Most tend to ‘block’ their creative urges for fear of ‘making a mistake’. One thing is certain: When you are creative there are going to be mistakes. Never worry about that. Some mistakes can be ‘happy accidents’ and turn out to be a stroke of creative genus. Some mistakes are not going to be mistakes at all. What is perceived to be a mistake may only be an important part of the creativity learning curve.

Want to get your creative juices flowing? First, it is important to understand creativity is not just about art. Every new thing in the world of man is a creative act. From wireless phones to apps to better police work, all aspects of life can benefit from creativity. Innovation is just creativity applied in a practical way. Start with the tasks of everyday life. Instead of a bowl of one cereal, try a mixture of cereals. Is there a better way to fold the laundry (or a way to get around doing laundry). Is there a better way to get to work? Or, is there work you can do that would pay you not to go to work? Try a new hobby. Something new in your life can trigger all sorts of creative things. Creativity is boundless and can be applied to anything. The important time to apply intelligence is to evaluate if your creative idea is going to harm anyone or anything. Other than that, the sky is the limit.

An important part of creativity is RESEARCH. The wheel was one of the most important creations in the history of man. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Research can reveal faster and easier ways of doing something. Creativity really begins when the research ends. When you find yourself creatively blocked, do research. Research itself can prove to be a spark to fire-up your own creativity.

You are as creative as you want to be

As mentioned, being creative is not about being ultra-smart. It is not about being a genus. To let your creative side loose means being willing to accept everyone is going to have an opinion about what you do or create. You do not have to feel good or bad about criticism. All you need to do is sort out what criticism helps and what criticism just doesn’t matter. Do the same with your ‘inner critic’. Work to recognize what self-criticism can be helpful and what is just ‘beating up on yourself’. Once you take the feeling good or bad out of criticism you can discover that you are far more creative than you give yourself credit for.

Creativity is not about knowing all the answers. Often, it is about discovering or creating the answers. And, you can do that, if you let yourself.

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