Let’s de-mythtify creativity

Think you’re not creative huh?

In business terms creativity is crucial – especially in the face of growing competition, limited budgets, the demand to do more with less and an environment where the old ways of marketing don’t work any more. Yet when I consult with and coach business owners on taking a more creative approach to their business, they immediately launch into a bad case of the BUTS.

  • But I’m not creative
  • But it’s easy if you’re naturally creative
  • But I can’t even draw a stick man (duh – I’m not asking you to touch up the Cistine Chapel)
  • But I don’t know how to have creative ideas.
  • But I’ve got more important things to work on.

More BUTS than a booty convention.

NEWS FLASH: Creativity is not some kind of special DNA you have to be born with.

The ability to be creative is in all of us it’s simply a matter of how we use it. For instance, my husband never ceases to come up with the most creative excuses I know to avoid exercising. Even my dog can do it – he’s found at least 15 creative ways I can think of to turn our morning walks into a marathon.

Enough is enough – it’s high time we de-mythtified the subject of creativity, so you can stop focusing on the ‘buts’ and get on with tapping into your shy, retiring inner creative to enhance your business.

MYTH: Creative people are the only ones who can come up with good ideas.

REALITY CHECK: Some of the cleverest ideas throughout history have come from ordinary, everyday people trying to solve a problem or meet a need. You know the old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Ever heard of Earle Dickson?  Probably not – back in the 1920’s he invented the bandaid because his wife was accident-prone and kept cutting herself in the kitchen. (The Spiderman versions came later)

MYTH: Creativity is only necessary in certain lines of work.

REALITY CHECK: If you think it’s only artists, authors, movie makers, designers and those other so-called ‘arty farty, airy fairy creative types’ that so-called practical people like to lump together in some kind of weird and wonderful race inhabiting a kind of parallel universe – think again! Creativity is common practice for mathematicians, scientists, engineers, inventors, builders … you name it. So a healthy dose of it couldn’t hurt the average small business owner now could it?

MYTH: Many heads locked in a room with a tight deadline are better than one.

REALITY CHECK: No way José. Don’t get me wrong, collaboration is a good thing, but creativity isn’t something you can force. The brainstorming process has its moments, but it’s usually poorly executed. I’ve yet to see anything of superior quality come out of a session where people are talking over one another, the egomaniac in the room dominates the entire discussion or everyone is sweating a deadline. The idea you do your best work when you leave things to the last minute has nothing to do with creativity – it’s called procrastination. Trying to squeeze something out under pressure can get ugly, and usually does.

I could go on but suffice it to say when it comes to creativity there’s no great mystique or special talent required. It’s a learnable skill and a habit worth cultivating. Don’t let those with outdated business practices, entrenched mindsets and narrow thinking tell you otherwise.

If you’re still struggling to embrace the notion that you CAN BE CREATIVE in your business, try American actress Mary Lou Cook’s definition …

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”

Works for me.