There is no denying that creativity is an important aspect of industry and daily life. This is probably why I have been asked whether or not creativity can be taught multiple times during my career. The question assumes that creativity is something to be acquired but the reality is we already have it and have always had it within us.
Studies reveal that by the age of 5 our creative output is at an astounding 80%. Children innovate on a daily basis without fear of mistakes or judgement. By the age of 12 the rate in which an individual is working out their creative muscles has declined to 2%. If you have kindergarten aged children, you are already aware of this. You witness it each and every day. Children of that age are encouraged to be relentless in their pursuit of their imagination. They have not been educated out of the concept just yet. Ask a child to sing, she will belt out her favorite song. Ask them to dance, draw, tell a story and you will be bombarded by creative dances, drawings and tales until you ask them to stop. If you spend any time at all around 5 year olds, you know how difficult it can be for the creativity to come to a halt.
But then arrives that point in everyone’s childhood in which we must enter the world of academics. It is in this environment that many of us are told that we need to specialize in one thing, and if you were lucky, you might have been told that a creative field is a possibility. However, many of us are told to grow up and put away childish things and sadly, creativity is a victim to this purging of childhood.
Creativity is in our DNA. Creativity is fearless. However, when we enter the educational world we are taught that there is a correct answer for everything and the fear of getting something wrong becomes embedded in us at an early age. Without the fearlessness of youth, we become less innovative–less daring. In short, we become less creative.. Along the way we fall into a false belief that only a chosen few are deemed “artistic” or “creative.”
When I ask adults if they would pursue something in the creative field I get responses like, I can’t draw a straight line. I can’t carry a tune. I have two left feet. The truth is that you can do these things but you are choosing not to do them.
It isn’t that we have an inability to be creative, it is that we are out of the habit of being creative. As creative beings we need to feed our creativity with daily practice. It doesn’t have to be drawing, music or dance. Keeping a journal, cooking, photography are all easily accessible ways that we can sharpen our creativity every day. If you have children, play with them. If you don’t, what did you enjoy doing as a child. Revisit those childhood outlets.
Our creative muscles have become flabby. We need to exercise those muscles daily to get toned. If cooking is your creative outlet, stretch those muscles. Instead of the few meals that you can do well, break out of that safe box. Why not try different recipes or experiment with an already existing recipe to see if you can improve on it? It’s ok to fail.
The reason we don’t try new things is because of fear of being wrong and judged. We must let go of that fear. Success in life, business, romance, family comes when we let go of these fears. These fears are roadblocks to reaching our creative potential.
Begin with small goals. Maybe spend five minutes a day doodling, lor researching new recipes. Perhaps take time to jot down about your observations or your feelings. You might have to use creative thinking to find the time needed for this. Wake up ten minutes early, stay up after the kids are asleep, turn off the tv and put down your smartphone and get busy with some good old-fashioned analog creativity.
Now that we know that we are born creative beings, that we had it in spades at a young age and it was educated out of us, we should feel confident that we can get it back. By just taking small steps toward a creative goal, we can make creativity a habit. Research has shown that on average it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. In other words, a habit. Grab your calendar or use the one on your smartphone. Find a date 66 days from today and create an event announcing that you reached your first creative milestone. You have achieved your creativity habit. Starting today, you make creativity a part of your everyday life.
Start simple. Five minutes a day of sincere practice in your chosen creative outlet will reward you with amazing results. Once it becomes a daily practice, you will quickly find yourself losing yourself in the process and reaching a state of consciousness called Flow, a term made popular by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book of the same name. For example, you might sit down to write for five minutes and the next thing you know you have been journaling for an hour or more. It is one of the most gratifying experiences anyone can have.
So go grab a pen, a paintbrush or a spatula and start working out your creative muscles. The skills gathered from everyday creative practice will bleed into your everyday life, whether your goals are business, relationship or personal. The rewards of introducing daily creative practice are beyond measurable and guarantee a well rounded, happy life for the practicing creative person.