When I started ColourSpace, I sought to get some advice from a business coach. I remember saying to him: “I’m terrible at sales. I’m just not a good salesperson.” His response has stayed with me to this day: “You’re not bad at anything. You’re simply a novice at it.”
This little phrase (which has its origins in Carol Dweck’s seminal piece: Mindset) has always stayed with me, and it’s something I trot out each and every time someone says to me: “Oh you’re so creative! I’m not creative at all.”
“No no,” I respond. “You are creative. You’re simply a novice at it.”
What exactly is creativity anyway?
In my past life, I used to head up the Innovation arm of the consulting firm I worked for. I absolutely loved designing new tools, new products, and new methodologies for how people worked, and how we delivered our services.
In my time in that role, one thing I noticed was that the phrases ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ were interchanged almost whimsically. Why I want to call this out is because I feel it contributed to those around me feeling like they couldn’t be either.
Creativity is about unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas. Innovation is about the implementation of change into an existing system. Or even simpler: Creativity is personal, innovation is organisational.
Why is this distinction important? Because it means people can be creative in a non-innovative environment. It means people can be creative even when the day to day job is mundane or operational. It means that people don’t need to be bound the area of work they’re in to be creative. It means that everyone can be creative!
How though? How can I be creative?
Before we talk about that, I want to share one really important detail: Creativity is relative. What is normal and plain for one person, can be incredibly creative and groundbreaking for someone else. The first time I saw someone demonstrate the life hack where a bag of chips is rolled up from its base to form its own self-standing bowl, it blew my mind. “Wow… that person is so creative!” I thought. Every single time after that where I’ve shown people the trick, I get the same reaction: “Whoa Scott, you’re always so creative.”
The point I’m making here is that if you extend that example further, it simply means anything you do can be considered creative to someone else.
Extrapolating this even further, what we see is that your experience can be your greatest source of creativity. So many new ideas in the world have simply come from someone applying an experience they’ve had somewhere else. James Dyson famously came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner after seeing a ‘cyclonic separator’ in a sawmill that used centrifugal force to remove dust from the air.
When I shared this perspective with my former colleagues, it was rewarding to see those who never considered themselves as ‘creative’ embrace the creative confidence they had in themselves.
Be open to your experiences
This method of creativity is something I continue to apply today. ColourSpace was born not from a deep-seeded passion for the art or a ‘jam / hackathon’ session, but because I noticed that in the office where I worked, we were paying someone to change fake flowers in the corner… but the artwork never changed (despite multiple requests). And I thought to myself: “Huh… what if?”
So for anyone who considers themselves ‘non-creative’, my one message to you is simply: “Yes you are, but you might simply be a novice. Draw on your own experiences! Apply them in different settings, ideas, and environments, and you too can unleash your inner creativity.”
You don’t need a degree to be an artist…