11 Brutal Truths About Creativity That No One Wants to Talk About


June 22, 2017

by Carla Johnson

Creativity is a funny thing.

People tell me they want more creativity in their life. They’re itchy to stretch themselves with new ideas at work. They yearn to work on amazing projects that become the envy of their peers. And they have a hankering to get out of the mind-numbing routine of their everyday work.

Yet, they don’t identify themselves as “a” creative.

That got me thinking. Is there a perception gap between what is creative and who is creative? Can you be creative without being a creative? And really, at the end of the day, does it matter?

Actually, I think it does. And I think it comes from the stereotype of what a “creative” person is.

We’ve seen the legends of creativity throughout time. Brilliant minds like Aristotle, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Hedy Lamarr and hundreds of others. What happens is that people look at massively creative people like this and think they could never measure up. There’s a preconception that creativity is an innate gift that only a few people possess.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The brutal truth

Creativity is like a lot of skills. There are some who naturally have it and there are others who have it because they work their ass off.

That’s why when I came across an article by Benjamin Earl Evans, I had to share it. He gives 11 excellent brutal truths about creativity that strip away excuses for anyone saying they aren’t, or can’t be, creative.

Here we go…

1. Your ideas are not original

The best ideas are simply iterations or combination of other ideas. If you haven’t read Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, it’s high time you did.

2. Inspiration is a myth

Inspiration isn’t something that strikes us in an instant. That “strike” is something that’s been a slow hunch for a long time. It’s not mystical, although it’s certainly more interesting to think of it that way. But research has shown that it’s not magic at all, but rather our brains making connections behind the scenes. While you may be going about your regular day, your brain can’t let that problem go. And when it’s done its work, it pops that brilliant idea to the surface like a prairie dog surfacing to take a look around.

3. Everyone is creative

People like scapegoats. And for many, saying that we’re not creative is the scapegoat to not be creative. But the truth is, creativity is a human quality that exists in every single one of us. It’s just that, over time, society – the educational system, our parents, bosses, coworkers – wring it out of us. Creativity falls to the wayside for the sake of efficiency. But it’s also a skill that can be resurrected.

4. Creativity isn’t something you’re born with

Not everyone’s a creative genius, just like not everyone’s an Olympic athlete. But everyone has the potential to be more creative than they are now, just like everyone has the potential to be more fit than they are now. The level of creativity you bring to life isn’t determined by what you’re born with. It’s strictly tied to how hard you’re willing to work.

5. You’ll never be great until you can be vulnerable

The people who are massively creative understand that you have to be open to the world around you. And to do that, you first have to be vulnerable. You can’t put your heart and soul into a creative work and not walk away feeling vulnerable. When was the last time you have true, deep feelings for the work that you did?

6. Fear is necessary

Fear is a barometer of how far you’re straying from your comfort zone. It’s your body’s way of protecting you, both physically and psychologically. When you put your whole (creative) heart into something, that makes you vulnerable to judgement. And that’s when the big fear kicks in. What if people don’t like it? Or they think it’s stupid? Maybe worse yet, what if they say they don’t like you, and think that you’re stupid? That’s really what fans the flames of fear – that we’ll be judged. But the only way that you’ll be able to be more creative is to move toward that which scares you the most. And that’s always outside your comfort zone.

7. Being creative is hard

People get mental blocks all the time, but they work through them. The same has to happen with creativity. You can’t sit and wait for a great idea to come to you. You have to go out, discover it and then do something with it. This is what’s known at the grind – when the work isn’t fun, doesn’t come easy, but still have to be done. It never gets easier, but you get better at it.

8. You can’t do it alone

Images of long hours spent in romantic places writing best-selling novels are great, but they aren’t realistic. Humans are social animals by nature. From Thomas Edison to Michelangelo, creative people have been working with teams — teams that almost never get the recognition that their big name compatriots get — in order to produce the greatest innovations in history.

9. Brainstorming is not the best way to innovate

While collaboration is essential for great creative work, classic brainstorming isn’t how you get there. People need time to give context to their own work. To gather their own thoughts and come up with ideas. Then comes the time to gather together. Before ideas can cross-pollinate as a group, people first need the time and space to come up with their own ideas.

10. Incentives harm creativity

The worst way to spark creativity is to incentivize it. It’s not the thrill of the paycheck that sparks creativity. It’s the intrinsic motivation to do work that’s better, different and challenging. That’s when we put our heart into it, put fear to the side and are willing to become vulnerable.

11. It doesn’t get easier

“Easier” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When it comes to creativity, it doesn’t get easier, but the process becomes familiar. And the pride, joy and satisfaction that come from doing truly creative work? That never goes away.

Read the full, original article here.

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.