Recently, I facilitated a workshop for a group that is very different from my typical groups of professionals and executives…. It was a group of 6-year-old preschoolers.
What struck me was the immediate fearlessness when I asked who can build (using LEGO) and tell everyone a story about it and all hands shot up! What followed was an amazing sharing of CREATIVE ideas that the kids made up on the spot on what would make the world’s coolest invention. One girl went along the lines of a solar powered submarine! (Hear that, Elon Musk?)
In contrast, I was also recently asked by a Global Bank to design a programme that would encourage their employees to “use their imagination” and think more CREATIVELY because people were simply more process driven than innovative.
Ironically, while we expect to become more knowledgeable and better thinkers are we grow up, our creativity seems to move in the opposite direction. Perhaps it is the way our education and our jobs are defined that trains us to think following rules and structure which creates a “creative disability” in us. Let us look three examples of creative disabilities that we often see:
1. “I am not creative”
How many of us have the word “creative” in our job titles or in our job scopes? Perhaps if you are “Creative Director” in an advertising agency, but most of us have titles like “Managing Director”, “Regional Accounts Manager” or “CFO”.
Unless people are in roles that are labeled as “creative”, they often believe that they do not have creativity or will not be credited for being creative. As a result, they stop being imaginative at work and stick to routine processes. Most job descriptions emphasizes more on technical competence than “out-of-the-box” thinking.
2. “There is a right answer”
Most people often think there is a right answer to any problem and hesitate to speak up unless we think we have that right answer. Even if we have a creative idea, we choose not to express it because of a lack of confidence or fear of being wrong.
“If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” Sir Ken Robinson, author and adviser on education
One observation I had with the group of 6-year-olds was they were not afraid to be wrong, they were not afraid to be embarrassed. They were not afraid to share their views and open their views to creative discussion among their peers.
On the solar powered submarine, another boy smartly pointed out that it needs a rechargeable “mobile phone” battery for times when sunlight can’t reach the sub. The original creator of the submarine agreed it was a good idea and she said it will build it in. (Yet another lesson from my team of 6 year olds on being (a) giving constructive feedback and (b) being open to ideas from others.)
3. “An idea is a solution”
We often equate an idea to being a solution when in reality feasible solutions take time and effort to fully develop.
Yet, an idea is often an essential starting point in developing solutions. People often overlook the fact that if they do not express an idea, it remains only in their mind and there is no chance that the idea can be developed further into a solution.
“An idea in our head remains only that. An idea expressed is the spark to creating something real”
My point… we are all born with creativity. We were all 6 years old once upon a time. Don’t underestimate your creativity and imagination, next time you are in a discussion and you feel a spark of an idea in your head, let it shine.