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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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Why you might be more creative than you think!


A report from Adobe has suggested that creativity is the skill most sought by recruiters in 2022. 

The problem is a lot of people don’t think they’re creative. In fact, there’s a widespread belief that creativity is something you’re either born with, or not, and that there’s nothing you can do about it.

To which, my response is poppycock. I believe that creativity is a skill like any other that we can develop and learn to use effectively. The trouble is, our willingness and ability to use this vital skill are often negatively impacted by a belief system developed over many years.

If I asked you to rate your creativity in the workplace on a score of 1-10, with 1 signalling you don’t have a creative bone in your body, and 10 signalling you consider yourself extremely creative, what score would you give yourself? 

What if I asked you to do the same for creativity outside of work? Would the scores be the same? 

If there’s a difference, think about the experiences that might have influenced your willingness and ability to be creative in those two different environments. 

Now, try to think of an age at which you were perhaps more creative than now.

Many people identify their childhood as their most creative age. It’s often a period when we’re encouraged to use our imagination; when our ‘silliness’ is entertaining to others, and when play is deeply entwined with reality. 

Think about how you might react, for example, if a child brought you a picture they’d painted at pre-school. You might resemble a giant with one arm twice the size of the other. The dog might look more like a horse. The house might look like subsidence has made it inhabitable, and the tree might be a ghastly shade of pink. But the chances are you’ll exclaim your delight and pin the offending thing to your fridge. After all, we don’t expect perfection at the first try.

And the result of this praise? Well, it’s very likely you’ll be presented with more pictures – lots more – until the fridge is full and/or your enthusiasm wanes. 

Now, imagine, if your partner or friend produced a similar ‘masterpiece’. How would you react to that? I suspect, with slightly less enthusiasm. Be honest, would you laugh? Mock it? Point out all the inaccuracies? Suggest he/she sticks to the day job?

Why does our response to creative effort change so much?

Well, one thing that happens is that tiresome thing we call growing up. And my experience helping others develop their creativity has led me to believe there are some significant milestones that impact our ability to think and behave creatively.

For example, most of us experience significant changes as our education progresses. Perhaps, around the age of 11 or 12, we moved to ‘the big school’.

How scary was that? Once there, our overwhelming priority might have been to fit in. Unless we were brave (which by the way is one of the pre-requisites of creativity) we probably tried hard to avoid standing out from the crowd. 

This pressure to conform - and it’s something most of us will have experienced at some point in our lives - collides head on with creativity. 

Think of adjectives often ascribed to creative behaviour: Wacky, different, out there, weird…. the opposites of compliance, conformity and embracing the status quo.

Another change we probably experienced as we grew up was a change in the way we learnt. Less permission to play and experiment. A greater requirement to listen and regurgitate. 

There are specific techniques we can learn to help us think and behave creatively, but the reason why some organisations (and homes) are more creative than others, usually comes down to two things. And it’s the same things we gave the child with the ridiculous painting: Permission (to be creative) and Praise (Recognition and Reward).

If you are one of the lucky people who rated your creativity as high (either at home or at work) you’ll probably be able to identify people who have given you those two things. 

The less we receive these two things, the braver we’ll need to be before we ‘have a go’; before we try to be creative. 

In time, we might learn to give ourselves Permission to be creative and Praise too, in the form of recognising what we’ve achieved and the progress we’ve made. 

But wouldn’t it be nice, if we didn’t need to? That’s something to bear in mind as we recognise our ability to empower others’ creativity with Permission and Praise.

As you’d expect, there’s loads of materials in Trainers’ Library to help organisations develop Creativite Thinking and Innovation skills!

One Response

  1. La limitazione del nostro
    La limitazione del nostro campo visivo, o meglio delle nostre capacità, è così inerente a noi. Grazie per l’ottimo articolo e per il tentativo di portare questo problema alle masse

Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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