“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value”- Sir Ken Robinson
We all want to be highly creative but often there are many obstacles to doing that.
Some of the obstacles appear in the form of personal blocks while others manifest as social pressures and lack of support.
Creativity is slowly but surely moving from the realm of the limited few to being a necessity in the workplace and in our own lives.
Being different and unique and coming up with innovative solutions is becoming more important in this age of information.
One of the teachers who have influenced me profoundly in understanding personal and organizational creativity is Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Ken has been instrumental in promoting an individualistic model of creativity and has been responsible for many thought and paradigm shifts in education.
1. Creativity Is A Multi-Faceted Process
“Creativity is a multi-faceted process. It involves many ordinary abilities and some specialized skills and techniques; it can be fostered by many different ways of thinking, and it draws on critical judgment as well as imagination, intuition and often gut feelings.” Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
I think that this is a wonderful assessment of creativity from Sir Ken.
Often, we attempt to box in creativity as being something that we have been made to believe.
For example, you may have many blind sights and opinions when it comes to the creative process:
Creativity is dampened and destroyed by critical judgment.
Creative people are extraordinary and have super human abilities.
You are not very imaginative.
If you do not get it right, you might as well not try.
If we begin to look creativity differently, through a new filter that everything matters, even the difficult parts.
Even ordinary processes have their place in the creative world along with the development of specialized skills.
Allow feedback in the form of critical ideas along with praise to move you forward in the creative process.
When you allow for diversity and variety, you are allowing the entire gamut of experience to touch and enrich the multi-faceted creative process.
Creativity can be very practical and very esoteric and inspirational. It can be imaginative and just plain gut feelings that you allow to fruition.
When you allow the seeming contradictions to enliven the process, creativity becomes a path of adventure instead of a predictable outcome.
Everything fits together and Sir Ken talks about the environment and certain conditions that you are in being important to creativity and nourishing your talents and skills. This is similar to a plant that is in a nourishing environment and does well.
Sir Ken gives the example of Paul McCartney and George Harrison who were in the same class together in Liverpool in the 1950’s. McCartney hated music at school and went through his entire education with no one recognizing his musical genius. Harrison was thought to have no talent at school either.
Elvis Presley was not allowed in the Glee club at Tupelo, Mississippi and was said that he would ruin their sound. The point is that talent is frequently buried deep and many people never uncover it or may take a long time to find it.
Are you looking for and uncovering your talents on a regular basis and allowing diverse elements in your creative process?
2.Are You Prepared to be wrong?
“What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.” – Sir Ken Robinson, TED talk, How schools kill creativity
One of the important aspects of being creative is the ability to be wrong and still push forward towards your creative goals.
I had this wrong before. I thought that I needed to do the best creative work that I could possibly do and it would just be right and received very well. Boy, was I wrong.
The reality is that the more I threw on the wall, the more my chance of success in being a successful creative person increased.
But If you give up after a few attempts, you will not materialize your creative powers and potential. It is a process and it transforms you.
Sir Ken tells a story of when his son was four and back in those days, they were still living in England. His son got a part in a nativity play and got to play the part of Joseph. When the part came to play the three kings bearing gifts, three four-year olds came in with tea towels on their heads.
However, they were out of sequence and after the play when they were asked, the boys were completely fine with the impromptu improvisation.
The first boy set his box down and said that he brought gold. The second said that he brought Myrrh. The third simply said, “Frank sent this” instead of frankincense!
Sir Ken reminds us the valuable lesson that kids are willing to take a chance worth their creativity and launch it our there.
And they are certainly prepared to be wrong and still continue. These are all attributes that terrify us when we grow up.
I don’t know about you but I was afraid when I became an adult.
Afraid of being wrong in my creative ventures.
Afraid of making a fool of myself.
Scared if taking a chance and facing imminent failure.
3. Different Learning And Expression Styles: Finding Your Element And When Talent Meets Passion
“Finding the medium that excites your imagination, that you love to play with and work in, is an important step to freeing your creative energies.” Sir Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
A lot of times we forget that every one of is a little different in how we learn and process information and express it out to the world. We use a one-mold-fits it all model and expect ourselves and others to follow advice that tells people to get in line.
How many times have you heard advise and suggestions like:
“Wake up early in the morning to be highly productive”
“Follow only one thing”
“Concentrate on the lecture and do not be distracted”
While the above advice may work for some people, it may not work for everyone and that is the key insight to take away.
In his TED talk, Sir Ken tells the story of Gillian Lynne who is a choreographer and did famous pieces like “phantom of the Opera” and “Cats” and was on the board of the royal Ballet in England. Sir Ken interviewed Gillian for his book that was based on how people discovered their talents.
When Gillian was in school, she had a lot of problems concentrating on her work as an 8 year old. The school informed her parents that she had a learning disorder.
Gillian’s mother took her to see a specialist and her mother told him all the problems she was having at school, including all the fidgeting, late homework and how she was disturbing others.
After hearing her mother out, the doctor told Gillian to wait in his oak paneled room while he spoke with his mother in private. Before leaving, he turned on the radio. As soon as they left the room, Gillian was on her feet dancing to the music.
The kind doctor pointed this out to her mother and said that Gillian was not sick and that she was a dancer. He advised her mother to take her to dance school. Gillian was delighted to find a room full of people who could not sit still and who needed to move to think.
And the rest is history.
So the next time, you find yourself moving to think or doodling during that long conference, it could be your unique learning style being expressed.
How can you be in your element? Some ideas from Sir Ken’s work and the idea of talent meets passion:
A. Find what you are naturally good at or have a predisposition towards or a talent that you have. Remember that human resources are buried deep and you may have to go looking for them.
A lot of people never discover their talents and what they are naturally good at.
B. Make sure that you love to do it, find it excited and something that ignites your passion and imagination or resonates with you
C. A sense of skill and talents within the framework of passion and what you love to do will allow for personal and social flourishing and fulfillment.
4. Do You Believe That You Are Not Creative? Learning What Is Involved With The Process.
“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Creativity is a process that can be learned and implemented. You may have been taught early on in school or elsewhere that creativity is only for the select few.
And then we train ourself out of being creative.
I did the same thing. I began believing that my creativity was limited and was not good enough for the world. Whenever, I tried something new and novel, there were enough critical words and indifference and rude comments that effectively shut me down.
Then I decided not to listen.
I tuned out the overwhelmingly negative opinions of others.
I tuned inside and found a source of creativity and strength that was boundless and unbridled.
Sir Ken says that many of us tune out of our creative powers because we were stigmatized.
“When people say to me that they are not creative, I assume they just haven’t yet learnt what is involved.”- Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Are you just assuming that you are not creative or did you not take the time to learn what is involved with the creative process?
5. How Curious and Imaginative Are You Being?
“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” – Sir Ken Robinson, TED talk How schools kill creativity
When we were children, curiosity was natural and even encouraged. But as adults, we are afraid to look foolish if we do not know something or if we express doubts.
Sir Ken is all about finding, harnessing and then putting your imagination to work.
If there is one dominant lesson that I have learnt from him, it is to continually be curious and imaginative and then implement that for creating great value to others.
Are you being curious?
Are you taking the time to let your imagination fly?
Are you implementing the insights from your limitless imagination?
Are you allowing yourself to create value to others through your creativity?
“Creativity involves putting your imagination to work. In a sense, creativity is applied imagination.” - Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
6. Creativity Does Not Need to Be Boxed In
“You can be creative in anything – in math, science, engineering, philosophy – as much as you can in music or in painting or in dance.” – Sir Ken Robinson
The belief that only some people have the right to be creative is a very powerful mind meme and has done a great deal of damage.
Everyone and in every field can be creative by:
Connecting and combining things.
Bringing elements from other fields to their work.
Observe for improvements and insights.
Trying something entirely new by doing a quick implement.
Assuming new personas and looking through different filters and lenses.
7. How High Are You Aiming For in Life?
“For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.”― Sir Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
I agree with Sir Ken that most of us aim too low and succeed.
I did just that with my life and got everything that I aimed for except it was calibrated out of my doubts and fears.
Now, I want to calibrate and create my future out of possibilities and hope.
However, just like Rumi’s famous quote, beyond all the assumed limitations, there are fields of possibilities that are there for exploring, are you willing to meet your most creative self there?
The first step is to be do and allow the possibility of something greater that what you can imagine for your life.
Be bold and be decisive.
Aim for higher than what you are used to. As you score mini victories, your ceiling to take risks and get great results will eventually increase…small steps at a time.
Reboot your environment to promote your success. Align external and internal conditions towards your highest aspirations.
8. What Beliefs, Ideas, Ideals And Thoughts Do You Hold?
“Human consciousness is shaped by the ideas, beliefs and values that we derive from our experiences and through the meaning which we derive from them. Our ideas can liberate or imprison us.” - Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
The question to ask yourself frequently is if your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and ideas are moving you forward or are they binding you in fear and hopelessness.
Sir Ken is right when he says that we look at life though:
Our Experiences + Ideas, beliefs, values from them +the meaning that we give them = Our Life
So what should we do?
Change our experiences to more favorable ones + have new ideas and create new beliefs and value systems from the new experiences + a meaning that is in consonance with flourishing and happiness = A new path
What are you waiting for? 🙂
9. Pushing The Creative Boundaries
“In all creative processes we are pushing the boundaries of what we know now, to explore new possibilities; we are drawing on the skills we have now, often stretching and evolving them as the work demands.”- Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Are you moving past your creative comfort zone and into new possibilities?
Here is a test to find out if you are:
A. Are you afraid?
B. In addition, are you very excited?
C. Are you feeling challenged and stretched daily?
D. Are you using and actively improving the skills that you have? Are you learning something new everyday?
If the answers to the above are not sure or no, you may be in creative still zone or the zone of comfort.
10. Encourage others and yourself to be Creative
“Teaching for creativity involves teaching creatively. There are three related tasks in teaching for creativity: encouraging, identifying and fostering.”- Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
And finally, I learnt a lot from Sir Ken in the art of recognizing and encouraging creative talents of other people.
When you become an ambassador of other people’s creativity, you learn how it works in your life and it naturally flows and expresses in your own life.
The truth is that many people do not encourage real creativity in others. People refuse to identify creativity and do not have a clue how to foster it.
How can we be Creative Ambassadors?
Ask open-ended questions. Allow multiple solutions. Think lego blocks and not pre-made options.
Praise people for their effort and not how they look like to others. Skill matters but without effort it is not enough.
Become interested in their work. Really, genuinely, truly interested!
Express genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for creativity.
Allow others to explore their imagination instead of becoming envious or indifferent.
Let others see with different filters and lenses and perspectives different from yours.
Understand and communicate that everyone expresses their unique blend of creativity differently.
And then extend the same courtesies for your own creative process = A Win-win situation!
“Teaching for creativity involves asking open-ended questions where there may be multiple solutions; working in groups on collaborative projects, using imagination to explore possibilities; making connections between different ways of seeing; and exploring the ambiguities and tensions that may lie between them.” -Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Now over to you, my creative readers! Please let me know how you express and encourage creativity in your own life and if this post resonated with you.
Photo Credit: TimWilson via Flickr CC