Creativity is often seen as some mysterious force that randomly inspires certain gifted individuals.
But what if creativity could be driven and accessed by anyone?
Busting myths about creativity
The common myths about creativity constrain our potential to consciously harness it. By challenging these limiting beliefs, we open up possibilities for purposefully driving our creative capacity through specific approaches.
- Myth: Creativity is some magical power that cannot be controlled or directed
- Truth: On the contrary, there are known techniques that can channel creativity, from structured brainstorming methods like listing attributes or forced connections, to free-writing and following streams of consciousness. By purposefully putting ourselves in creative mindsets and removing inhibiting factors, we can consciously direct creativity.
- Myth: You're either born creative or you're not
- Truth: While some individuals are more naturally creative based on factors like personality, anyone can boost their capacity for creative thought through practice and building creative habits. Teaching yourself to think more flexibly, make unexpected connections, and iterate on ideas rather than judging them too quickly are examples of developable creative skills. Believing creativity is entirely fixed limits our potential.
- Myth: Creativity strikes randomly in a thunderbolt of inspiration
- Truth: While moments of illumination do occur, consistent work and consciously trying new approaches is what allows truly original ideas to gradually take shape over time. Rarely do genius ideas spring fully-formed without effort. Iteration, forcing connections between disparate concepts, seeking lots of inputs and influences - these behaviors set the stage for creative insights to emerge. Inspiration comes through perseverance.
Driving factors that boost creativity
Rather than sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, here are some proactive ways we can purposefully drive creativity:
- Iterative mindset - Coming up with finished, polished ideas right away is rare, even for the most creative individuals and teams. Truly embracing the iterative process - generating lots of incomplete, imperfect ideas and building upon the most promising ones - is a central driver of creativity. Being open and flexible is key, not getting stuck on an early idea but evolving the most potent kernels.
- Forcing connections - Deliberately seeking connections between random, unrelated concepts is a creativity-boosting strategy. This mash-up thinking challenges default assumptions and associations, opening creative possibilities. Approaches like listing disparate attributes of an issue and intentionally connecting them, or combining ideas from nature with processes in an entirely different domain, can produce surprisingly creative insights by merging concepts no one would think to relate.
- Seeking stimuli - Surrounding yourself with rich, diverse sources of inspiration through travel, nature, music, reading, art, conversations with interesting people etc. gives your brain more raw material to recombine into creative connections. Exposing yourself to experiences, ideas and influences across different mediums and disciplines provides novel inputs to fuel creative thought.
- Persistence and grit - The ability to patiently develop ideas and push past barriers through sustained effort and determination is a key, underrated driver of creativity. Breakthroughs often come through stubbornly working at problems even when progress seems halted. Creative genius is commonly described as 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration for good reason - it takes gritty work to translate visions into tangible creative outcomes.
While the myths persist that creativity is inborn and random, the reality is that it can it can be driven by fostering the right mindset and using high-leverage behaviors.
With some optimism and consciously applying these creativity-boosting factors, we can make innovation far more deliberate.