An interesting article about an evergreen question: Can creativity be taught?
Here’s the rub. The question isn’t answered in this article from FastCompany, but all the same, author Evie Nagy coaxes some interesting responses from those identified by the magazine as the Most Creative People in Business. Here’s some of her key insights.
- A creative person’s creativity is self-taught (33%), using their own curiosity and an innate desire to create. Another quarter of respondents cited their parents. No surprise, one’s boss or supervisor was the least inspirational, a meagre 4%.
- The most common time for creative breakthroughs was late at night (29%). Followed by in the morning (at 20%), the insight is that people are more creative when they are not at work – or at least, at work when they’re more likely to be alone. Again, no surprise that the combined scores of meal time, drinking or office brainstorm sessions were less than 10% of the overall total. This is consistent with research from the University of Amsterdam which says places of mental quiet – such as the shower, the toilet, sleeping and public transport – are also more conducive places for creative thought.
- The most important quality of a creative person is their willingness to kill their own idea (35%), followed by fellow collaborators (29%). Both underscore the well-known adage that “Creativity isn’t a talent as much as an attitude.” (Donald MacKinnon was the first to use the phrase in his research “The Nature and Nurture of Creative Talent,” published in 1962.)
So what’s this tell those of us who aren’t the Most Creative People in Business.
- Know thyself. All people can be inherently creative, but it’s not going to be in the same way the person who sits next to you. Be more sensitive to what makes you creative, and use that when you need inspiration to strike. If that means naps, daydreaming, alcohol, pot or teddy bears help inspire your ideas, so be it.
- Your work space is probably the least creative space. It’s there primarily for your closed mind state, not for your open mind state. Look for ways to break-out of the closed mind during the working hours. Or, simply know that your best brainstorming will come between 5 and 9 – and decide how you might spark it further. If nothing else, do your brainstorming outside of the office.
- Two heads are better than one. Don’t think of brainstorms as office meetings. Think of them as a melding of the right type of minds in discussion. Collaboration with people who are not part of your regular clique can help you break out of traditional perspectives.
- Engage the irrelevant. Inspiration doesn’t come from what’s in front of you. It comes from finding connections with things outside of the normal path. Whether you look for ways to break the patterns, look for new experiences, or tap into your unconscious, the next best idea is more likely to come to you when engaged with something untraditional.
What other insights do you have about engaging your creativity more effectively?