Creativity: Capacity or a Skill


“To say ‘Creative People’ is redundant.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Too often, people claim that they just aren’t creative. Maybe you’ve said that about yourself?

Hooey I say!

Creativity is a human trait. It is a capacity that is built into our DNA.

There is a stereotypical image of a “Creative Type,” and it usually looks like an artist or author. They are edgy, they have prolific imaginations, and they are often broke.

Or perhaps your image is more of the “Creative Class” that all the corporations and cities are seeking to attract. They are young, tech savvy, their medium is likely programming or design.

These images are limiting, and even dangerous. The more we can embrace that everyone has the capacity to be creative, the more we will all benefit from it. I’m not saying that everyone can paint a masterpiece or build a machine. That is a level above Creativity itself.

The Difference Between A Capacity And A Skill

To be creative is simply the ability to have original thoughts. It’s our ability to look at something, and have a unique thought about it. It could be through solving a problem, coming up with an idea, or seeing a new angle. To execute or express our creativity requires a skill. Just because you have an idea for the next great video game doesn’t mean you can program it. Just because you have a vision for a novel doesn’t mean you can write it.

Creative skills can include everything from painting, drawing, writing, programming, designing, building, carving, speaking, moving… The list goes on and on!

Skills can be learned. How we express our ideas is a matter of form. Do we express them through writing, through creating spaces, through music?

Choosing your form and then learning and improving your skills is what allows you to fully express your creativity. Some skills are more technical than others, but they all require some knowledge and a lot of practice to become proficient.

So, you can say that you aren’t an architect or a painter. Those just aren’t your chosen forms for creative expression, and you haven’t honed those skills.

Creativity must be fostered

While we all have the capacity for creativity, original thinking, and new ideas, many people lose touch with this ability. If it isn’t fostered, it can fade.

Sir Ken Robinson, in his well-known TED talk, argues that the education system, as well as society at large, is actually squashing our creativity. We are being taught to copy others, to get things “right” rather than trying new things or taking risks.

We need to give ourselves a chance to be creative. Some space to let our ideas grow. The opportunity to try different forms of creative expression and work on the ones we are most drawn to.

There are many ways to do this. For my clients and me, content creation is the opportunity. It is where creativity and entrepreneurship meet. Where finding a form for creativity and self-expression can grow your business and build your reputation.

And in the process, make the world a more creative place. What do you think? Are you connected to your creativity? What is your form for expressing it? Leave me a comment below.

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