This is a great question. Two recent experiences have profoundly affected the way I now answer this question. First, I read “Creative Confidence” by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. This thought provoking book contains many excellent examples of how we use creativity to solve problems. It really had me stop and think about how we can utilise creativity more effectively at home and at work. Second, I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s talk “Do schools kill creativity?” This is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time with over 20 million views on YouTube. It’s highly entertaining and addresses a serious issue. Armed with both experiences I now confidently say “yes, I believe we do kill our creativity, and there’s no need to and we will perform better when we embrace our creative side.”

We Kill Our Own Creativity

We live in a fast-paced, tech-driven world with our smartphones or tablets never too far from reach. Who takes the time to sit back, relax and explore our creative thoughts and expression? I assert probably not too many of us. The sad truth is that we kill off our own creativity. As children we all start life being creative but then, for many of us we encounter destructive criticism of our creative expression. For example, at school or pre-school we might be told “that picture doesn’t look much like a horse” and we decide right then and there, that we are not creative. We decide to shut down our creative expression and with it, we kill off an important aspect of our ability to be innovative and solve problems. The problem is exacerbated because, as Ken Robinson so eloquently asserts, “our educational system does not encourage creativity to flourish.” Esteemed researcher and speaker, Brené Brown, found in her research on vulnerability that one-third of adults carry a “creativity scar” from childhood. As an avid choral singer, I can vouch that singing in front of people requires confidence. I’ve met many people over the years who claim they cannot sing in public because someone told them when they were younger “you can’t sing.” That one criticism shattered their confidence and from that moment their singing days were over.

Creativity Starts With Being Yourself

I often hear people say that they’re “analytical, not creative.” Unfortunately, for many analytical people we generally resist taking action; rather we tend to reflect and analyse. However, many successful scientists are analytical and like me, are also very musical and creative. To me, Leonardo da Vinci is the quintessential creative scientist. I’m analytical and I know the challenge we face is we tend to judge ourselves harshly and thus diminish our own creativity. The great news is that the lack of creativity is not permanent and by taking specific actions we can re-engage our creative side. Interestingly, there is no Tibetan word for “creativity” or “being creative.” The closest translation is “natural” or “be more natural.” Therefore, if you want to be more creative, start by being your natural or authentic self. Allow your creativity to emerge and avoid the temptation to judge yourself.

Surround Yourself With Creative People

Throughout my scientific career I witnessed many changes and stricter regulations that further diminish our creativity. For example, open-plan offices, sterile work areas devoid of artwork and banning music all serve to stifle our creativity. Therefore, it’s imperative that we engage in activities to maintain our creativity. I’ve also learnt it’s much easier to keep engaged when I surround myself with other creative people. For instance, I play the guitar, I sing in a choir, and I go ballroom or swing dancing whenever possible. For others though it might be to join an art or creative writing class. I believe what you do isn’t as important as long as it allows you to tap into your creative side.

Are you creative? What activities will you take on to unleash your creativity? Are you courageous enough to allow your creativity to flourish or will you allow your fear of being a novice or feeling foolish to stop you? Being creative gives us another “string to our bow” to solve problems, unlock innovation and cause amazing results in the world. I challenge you to take this on. You don’t know how it will unfold.

Do you want to expand your creative freedom and self-expression? Contact me today for a complimentary discovery session to explore the value of 1 to 1 leadership coaching.