What’s one common thing between a Unicorn, a Phoenix, and a Dragon?
Well, they’re all mythical!
A myth is something that exists in legends, stories, and beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world around us. They exist in your mind but not in reality.
I’ve always been intrigued by the creative process and its role in pushing the wheel of human progress. I’ve studied the works of great thinkers such as Michael Kirton, Teresa Amabile, Herbert Simon, David Kelly, and Edward de Bono. As well as my own experience with creativity in my life, and finding creative ways to empower people to be more creative all over the world.
Here, I lay out the distillation of some of the insights and fruits of this thoughtful study. I hope to nudge you towards a path of exploration and adventure while accessing more of your potential.
So much of what we take to be common knowledge is simply not true. That’s why there’s a whole bunch of shows dedicated to busting myths.
So let’s debunk three of the most destructive creative stereotypes. Then, tomorrow I’ll present you with a more holistic, inclusive, and practical model to think about creativity in more meaningful and useful ways. It’s called Creative Diversity.
Remember that the power of changing your beliefs (mindset) always has a superior impact over solely working on your behavior.
Creative Stereotype #1
Let’s play a game called How Creative. For the four images below rate each one from 1 ~ to 10 on how creative you believe they are.
If you are like most people, you may have given the judge a low score, whereas the artist’s score is higher. And curiously, you may have given the baby the highest score, with an added a sigh of “hmm how cute!” at the end.
This stereotype says: Only certain types of people are creative.
So, artists, musicians, and writers are creative, while engineers, accountants, plumbers, and math teachers are not.
Well, the reality is that creativity is a process of mental, emotional, and spiritual intuition that is independent of the form or output that the creative expression takes.
Therefore, you can be creative in the arts, music, law, chemistry, physics, poetry, or whatever you please. Our socially conditioned stereotypes of labeling people as creatives or non-creatives as a consequence of their profession is false and limiting to people’s potential.
The truth is that anyone can demonstrate creativity in whatever endeavor they choose to take on.
Creative Stereotype #2
Ok, another game. Rate the below artifacts from 1~10 on how creative you think they are?
While the results of this game vary considerably more than the first game; however, most people tend to give the glove and the can lower grades than the Monalisa and the computer mouse. This uncovers a preconceived notion of what types of objects we consider to be creative.
This stereotype says that: Only certain types of work, artifacts, or objects are creative, while others aren’t.
This is nonsense at best. We must realize and distinguish that creativity is a process, not an outcome. So, a very long and boring piece of legislation or policy can be super creative.
The important thing is that output of the creative process has utility. One thing to point out when it comes to art is that there is a great deal of subjectivity, nonetheless, art has emotional and economic utility, and in the case of the Monalisa historical value as well.
Creative Stereotype #3
Ok, no more games, but check this out!
This stereotype is where the creative type myth joins forces with false neuroscience.
It says that some of us are analytical and logical because we are left-brained, while others are creative and imaginative because they are right-brained.
This is absurd if you speak to any neuroscientist that is worth their weight.
We indeed have two separate brain hemispheres. They are connected by a thick cable of neurons called the Corpus Callosum. The right and left hemispheres excel in different types of thinking; however, the reality is that we are WHOLE Brained. I mean have you ever tried thinking with only your right or left hemispheres? What would you do?
Creativity is an iterative process of exploration (Divergent Thinking), and a series of decisions (Convergent Thinking) to come up with solutions or courses of action to a particular problem or challenge we’re facing.
This is a reductionist view that sees creativity as only employing the divergent type of thinking, whereas the creative process involves both divergent thinking to explore possibilities, as well as convergent thinking to choose among those possibilities.
In fact, in 2013 scientists scanned the brains of 3,000 people and found absolutely no evidence for this way of categorizing people.
If you’re interested, here’s a 1-minute video of a real-time depiction of the brain of a person that is simply opening and closing her eyes. It’s called the Glass Brain Project.
When it comes to creativity, labeling someone as left-brained or right-brained is as useful as saying someone is an Aries or Libra.
Real neuroscience says that if you are human and you have a brain, then you are capable of being creative.
I trust this is insightful and helps shifts your mindset when it comes to your creative intelligence and creativity in general.