What is Creativity?
Creativity is the act of creating something new or combining existing things in a new way,
or using an existing thing in a new way. The person who creates something is said to be
"creative". Some people, such as artists and writers earn a living from their creativity.
Engineers earn a living by being creative because they need to invent new or improve
existing products and processes. Some people in business earn a living by creating new ways
to market or deliver products or services.
It's interesting that when an artist or writer creates, we call it imagination. When an
engineer creates, we call it invention. When a business person creates we call it innovation.
But it's not just artists, writers, engineers, and business people who are creative. We are
all creative. In fact the most creative people in the world are children. Unfortunately,
when the average person or a child creates, sometimes they call it being a "non-conformist"
or "doing it wrong".
Let's look at individuals who we consider to be the most creative people in history.
Henry Ford's businesses failed and left him broke five times before he invented the assembly
line and founded the Ford Motor Company. Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was "too stupid
to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being lazy. Edison failed over
6,000 times before inventing an electric light bulb that worked.
Walt Disney was fired from his news writer job because "he lacked imagination and had no
good ideas." Then he started a number of businesses that ended with bankruptcy and failure.
Today the Walt Disney Company has an annual revenue of $40 billion. J.K.Rowling was a divorced
mother, living on welfare, who's book was rejected twelve times, and was about to be evicted
from her apartment, when a publisher suddenly accepted "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
What do all these people have in common? They all "did it wrong". They're all "non-conformists".
They didn't let fear of failure or fear of criticism inhibit their creativity. They didn't
conform to other peoples beliefs and expectations. Fear of failure and criticism are why
so many of us are not creative. But the rewards are too great for us to let our creativity
Children are creative because they have not yet learned to fear failure and conform to
expectations. Maybe, as adults, we've learned too well about failure and conforming. Maybe
we need to loosen up a bit and not worry so much about failure and about what other people
think. Creativity is the act of creating something new and different without worrying about
doing it wrong or about failing or about being criticized.