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The word “creative” sparks a lot of different thoughts, ideas, and notions in peoples’ minds. The nature of creativity allows for different interpretations of the word. It gets tossed around. It’s everything to some, and nothing to others. By definition, it is ‘the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.’ Here are 3 things it’s definitely not:

1. Creativity is only for artists and designers.

“Oh I’m not very creative, I work in accounting.”

“I’m a manager, I leave the creative thinking to my team.”

“I’ve just never really understood you ‘creative folk.'”

For many people in the world, the word “creative” sparks images of painters, musicians, and fashion designers. For some, creativity is equated with illustration or animation. If you are a creative, you must be in the world of art or design.

At its heart, creativity is about ideas, and how we develop, understand, and communicate them.

Creativity is not reserved for the artist and the designer.

If your job requires you to bring something new into being, you are a creative.

If you work with ideas, solve problems, or generate solutions, you are a creative.

If you’re a Greenville County Councilman, you can be a creative.

If you simplify complex ideas, you are a creative.

“Creativity is more than being different. Anyone can be different. Making the complex simple, now that is creativity.” – Charles Mingus

2. Creativity is just a gift.

I wasn’t very good at drawing when I was young. My self portraits looked like drawings of a . So I assumed I wasn’t gifted in the world of creativity. All through school, I used it as a bit of a crutch. “Oh I’m just not all that creative,” as if creativity were a gift on the same spectrum as height: some have it, and others don’t.

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Little did I know, creativity is in fact a skill.

Creativity is a skill fueled by a process of rituals, routines, and habits.

“Creativity is a habit. And the best creativity is merely a result of good habits.” – Twyla Tharp

Sure, some people are gifted in areas that lend themselves to creative thinking. Creative work may come easier to the naturally curious, or to the open-minded. But it’s not merely a gift, reserved for a small percentage of the world. It’s available to anyone with a brain, which leads us to lie #3.

3. Creativity can’t be learned.

In 1960, a fellow by the name of George Land created a test that would assess the creativity of children between the ages of three and five. Mr. Land gave the same students the same test at the ages of 10 and 15. During this study, he also tested somewhere around 280,000 adults.

Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%

George Land concluded it’s actually non-creative thinking that we learn over time.

Creativity is a skill that can be learned; a process to be managed. When managed well, it produces brilliant ideas at a moment’s notice. This is creativity.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

Wherever you are in your creative journey, don’t buy into these myths. If you don’t feel particularly gifted, there is hope. You can be more creative than you are now in 5 years. Or in 5 months. Creativity isn’t necessarily a gift you’re born with, but a skill learned over time. A result of habits, processes, and rituals. A great example: Rick Roberts of Greenville, SC organized a donation drive – a brilliantly creative idea from a businessman.

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