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Skill Level Beginner
- So, let me ask you a question. How many of you would say that you're creative? Raise your hands. How many of you would say you're creative? People are like, "oh, I'm hesitant, "maybe I'm creative, maybe I'm not creative." See, when I was growing up I was asked that same question. I remember it, it was fourth grade. They asked me, "Are you creative?" And I raised my hand and I'm looking around and like the only one raising their hand. As a fourth grader, you would think everyone would be standing up on the tables, right? And I'm raising my hand and I'm like, "Yeah, I'm creative." 'Cause I loved making things, right? I loved arts and crafts, I loved to color, I loved art, I was into that sort of thing.
And so I raised my hand. And I remember raising my hand thinking, "well, no one else is raising their hand. "Am I wrong, am I not creative? "Is there any possible way that I'm not creative?" And so as I got older and started entering into the design field, what I found was I started asking people that same question, and I could ask anybody that same question: "are you creative?" And I would get some people who would raise their hands and some people who wouldn't, and the people who wouldn't, I'm like: "how would you say you're not creative?" And what I came to was I think that the definition of creativity, my definition was wrong, and I think a lot of times as we grow up our definition of what creativity is is wrong.
And so I started studying it and started asking different people what their interpretation of what creativity was to them, and what I found was I was getting a whole lot of different answers, and I could ask you the same question: "how would you define creativity?" And I guarantee you in a room by yourself, you would all give me a completely different answer, 'cause there is really no stock answer to what creativity is. So how can you define whether or not you're creative? So as I started investigating this and asking different people and trying to find a definition that I believed in, I came across a couple of really interesting things.
So one of them was my definition of what creativity was was completely wrong, completely different, and I'm guessing your definition of what creativity is is probably incorrect as well. So we're gonna explore that a little bit, but I really found two common misconceptions about what creativity is. The first misconception is that creativity is somehow attached to artistry and I think that's how we would look at it and define it. We would say I'm artistic, I can draw or I can paint, or that person's creative because they're artistic, they can draw or paint.
They have some sort of artistic skill so therefore they're creative, but the problem is that that is a very one-sided view of what creativity is. As I was exploring this, creativity really isn't artistry at all, although you can use art to be creative, those two are not uniquely tied, which is a really interesting concept. If creativity isn't attached to artistry, then what is it? How can you possibly define if you're creative? So, as I started trying to put this meaning together I came to an understanding, and as soon as I came to this understanding it changed the way I viewed creativity.
It changed the way I viewed my own work. It changed who I viewed as creative and who inspired me because I could look at a larger group of people and what they did for a living could inspire the work that I did even though I wasn't in their field. And so when I broke down what creativity is and its basic core at it's very nature, creativity is problem solving. That's all it is. And if you think about it in that context that means every single one of you are creative. All of us are creative because every single day we solve problems.
But this is a pretty broad term, it's a pretty broad definition. That means everyone in the world is creative and as we learned from The Incredibles, if everyone's super, nobody is, right? So if everyone's creative then nobody is. So at this definition there has to be more to it, and there is. There are qualifications to what creativity is. Creativity is problem solving, but there are two key characteristics: relevance and novelty. Creativity is problem solving with relevance and novelty. Relevance is the degree by which a problem is actually solved, because lots of us could solve problems, we think we're solving them, but they're not actually solved.
So therefore it can't be creative if it's not actually solving the problem. But then novelty is really that degree of uniqueness or originality that that solution possesses, and that's our varying degree, isn't it? In most cases a problem is either solved or it isn't. It's an A B test. It's either solved or it isn't. So, relevance becomes whether or not you can check that off. The degree of differentiation is your novelty scale. That's where the subjectivity in creativity comes from. That's how you can look at one person and say that person is really creative and that person maybe isn't as creative.
That's your subjectivity, it's in this context of novelty. It's how we define anything that's creative. When we see novelty. When we see something that we weren't expecting. When we see something that was solved differently and we go, oh man, that was so creative. That's our subjectivity. So there is a very significant byproduct to this definition of creativity. If creativity is problem solving with relevance and novelty, then the byproduct of that is that second misconception that I had about what creativity was, and I had always believed and I think all of us have always believed that creativity is a talent.
That some people have it and some people don't. They're born with it, they come from creative families, whatever the case is, it is something inherent to who they are as a human. It's a talent, but if that's the real definition of what creativity is, then creativity isn't a talent. That means it's a skill and any skill that you can undertake, the byproduct to it being a skill, is that you can get better at it. And we've never really thought of creativity as being something that we can get better at.