A Regular Column by Anthony D. Fredericks
Were You Born Creative? Or Not?
How often have you heard the following statements? Alternatively, and more specifically, how often have you said these statements yourself?: “I couldn’t draw a straight line if my life depended on it.” “If you’re looking for a creative person, you might as well look somewhere else.” “Me? Creative? No way, José.”
There is a persuasive tendency of people to downplay their creative talents or place limits on their creative output. Many people believe they aren’t creative simply because they weren’t born with a creative gene. Believing we don’t have creative attributes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a result, our creative confidence dwindles, erodes, and is washed away. We often fall into the all too common perception that we were either born creative or not.
As you might expect, that’s a myth!
Truth be told, the “I’m creative” and “I’m just not creative” groups are imaginary – we’re not one or the other. As shared throughout the pages of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them, we are all creative individuals as children, it’s just that that creativity has been steam-rolled into submission as we get older and begin to deal with the realities of everyday living.
Psychologists Kaufman and Gregoire describe the similarities between those often self-designated as “Creative” and those who self-select the “I’m not creative” moniker. In fact, as you review their list of characteristics (below) you will note that many of these beliefs and personality dynamics are also those that have been an inherent part of your own life. It could well be said, that the characteristics of “Creatives” are the same characteristics that are part and parcel of your past as well as your present. As From Fizzle to Sizzle presents, however, some of those features have been systematically crushed, pummeled, mashed, and trampled as we have grown up, gone to school, and gotten a job.
Here are ten attributes of creative types. Note how many of these attributes apply to you now or were once an element of your younger years:
- I played imaginative games as a child.
- I have, or have had, a passion for something important in my life.
- I’ve been known to daydream about things unrelated to my work.
- I enjoy doing things on my own or by myself.
- I sometimes “just know” something is right; I’ve been intuitive at times.
- I’m open to learning new things and having new experiences.
- I’ve meditated or engaged in mindfulness activities.
- I’m sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.
- I’ve been able to turn adversities into advantages.
- I sometimes think about things others do not.
I suspect you have experienced more than one or two attributes from that list. Thus, it seems reasonable to assume that almost all of us, at one time or another in our lives, have engaged in common practices and shared performances emblematic of creative thinking. That is to say, no matter your perceived station in life, you have the components of creative thinking already “in your system.” In short, you are more similar to those arbitrarily classified as “Creative People” than you are different.
Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks is an award-winning author of more than 170 books, including From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them as well as five other Blue River Press titles (e.g. Ace Your Teacher Resume). He also pens a regular blog for Psychology Today.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/ contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd)