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creativity column

Top 5 myths about creativity.


The creative process can be mysterious and intimidating. But if you understand how it works, it can also greatly improve both your work and personal life. Here’s a look at the top 5 myths I’ve encountered over the years regarding creativity.

No. 1: Creative people always have great ideas. If only that were true, but the creative process doesn’t work like that. Sure, there are some days when all my neurons are firing across my corpus callosum and I feel like I could solve the world’s toughest problems. The flip side of that coin is that there are days when I feel like I have completely run out of ideas. Early in my career, those days scared me. I didn’t fully comprehend why on one day I could feel so creative, only to be met with the opposite feeling a day later. I had to learn to respect the process of ebb and flow. Now, I recognize what’s happening and try to use it to my advantage.

No. 2: Idea-generating is best done in a group. I know that this runs counter to conventional thinking. I do think a group brainstorm can work if everyone in the group trusts and respects each other, but most people aren’t that comfortable sharing their thoughts openly. Sometimes, you just have to hunker down after the noise of the day has abated and allow your mind to quiet. Ideas will not easily flow out of a cluttered mind.

No. 3: Drugs can help you be more creative.  Nope. What drugs will do, however, is make you feel like you’re being more creative, when in fact, you’re not. Drugs will lower your inhibitions, which most people mistake for the feeling of being creative and free. When you’re intoxicated, your thinking becomes less clear. You will not do your best thought-generating under the influence of drugs or alcohol – it’s that simple. 

No. 4: Creativity is only for artists. John G. Young, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said, “The development of creative problem-solving skills are now a necessity, not a luxury.” We all have two distinct hemispheres of our brain. The right side controls thought, intuition, and creativity. The left side controls logic, rationality and objectivity. Most careers today require both. 

No. 5: Creativity can’t be developed.  This one’s a doozy. Think about it – anything you put time into learning can be developed. It all comes down to how hard you’re willing to work. People who find themselves living mostly out of the right side of their brain can tap in to their creativity fairly easily, while those living primarily out of the left side might have to work a little more. But, just like other skills, creativity can be learned.

I’m not sure why there are so many myths surrounding creativity or how it got to be so misunderstood, but don’t be afraid to spend some time working on your creative side. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone – that’s the best way to break out of established patterns if you ever hope to live a more creative life.  

William ChildsComment