95 percent of what we know about the brain, we have learned in the last 20 years. So, your beliefs about creativity were probably shaped by faulty information.
For instance, many believe that only special, talented people are creative – and you have to be born that way.
The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso and Mozart were `gifted’ is a myth, according to a recent study at Exeter University. Researchers examined outstanding performances in the arts, mathematics and sports, to find out if “the widespread belief that to reach high levels of ability a person must possess an innate potential called talent.”
This particular study concludes that excellence is determined by five key elements:
practice (this one, most of all)
The research also indicates that few showed early signs of promise prior to parental encouragement, and no one reached high levels of achievement in their field without devoting thousands of hours of serious training. Consider Mozart who trained for 16 years before he produced an cknowledged masterwork.
Let me tell you a few more interesting facts about creativity:
– Research shows that everyone has creative abilities. The more training you have and the more diverse the training,the greater is your potential for creative output.
– Additionally, it has been shown that in creativity quantity equals quality. In fact, the longer the list of ideas, the higher the quality of the final solution. Typically, the highest quality ideas appear at the end of the list.
– The average adult thinks of three to six alternatives for any given situation. The average child thinks of 60.
– Creativity is an individual process. Traditional brainstorming has been proven ineffective because of fear of social disapproval.
– Groups are best for idea selection rather than idea generation.
All of this is interesting and enlightening but doesn’t necessarily get to the root of the issue of creativity. I think there is one element even more important than the five mentioned above. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate what I think the prime factor in creativity is.
A New York publisher was concerned about the lack of creativity among his editorial and marketing staff. He hired psychologists to try to determine what differentiated the creative employees from the others. After a year of study, the psychologists discovered that there was only one difference between creative and non-creative employees: belief in their creativity. Creative employees believed they were creative, and the non-creative ones believed they were not.
So, you are creative, I guarantee it. All you have to do is believe me. Is that too much to ask?
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, http://www.hoover-ink.com. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, VELUX and Verbatim.