Do we not commonly hear people say, “I’m not creative enough, I don’t have it in me” or “I’m not imaginative enough, I lack this skill”? What if I told you that each one of us has the inherent ability to be creative, and by believing that we are not creative enough we are the ones hampering our potential; we’re the ones holding us back?
We think creativity is limited to generating novel ideas, but it is much more than that. Our ability to tackle new problems, connect details, seek new perspectives, implement knowledge, make experience-driven decisions, maneuver through new situations and so much more, is part of our creative potential. It’s bizarre how we are so ready to question our creative abilities based on what we hear when more than half of those things are nothing more than plain myths.
These myths are damaging because they lead many people into disregarding their potentials. Below I’ve mentioned 10 such commonly held creativity myths.
1. Incentives fuel creativity
While incentives improve performance, it may not be always true in the case of work that involves creative output. Creative thinking is driven more by intrinsic rewards and motivation than extrinsic ones. Creative potential comes out when people are deeply invested and passionate about the work they do, not when they are offered rewards like money or plaques.
2. Only right-brained people are creative
The idea that the left side of the brain is associated with logical and problem-solving skills, and creative and imaginative skills are functions of only the right side, and only one side is dominant in each person. Let me tell you, that this is a misconception. According to research, both sides work collaboratively and are essentially equal in their activities. This myth is downright problematic because it supports the notion that creativity is confined to only one specific group of people which is not true.
3. You have to be a genius to be creative
Although some researchers have found a threshold relationship between being creative and being a genius, it is essentially because of an overlap of some other skills and abilities and not just these two. To think that one has to have a high level of intelligence to be creative has never been completely proven by research.
4. Some people are naturally creative. Others are not.
All of us are naturally blessed with the capacity to be creative. The reason that some people are quick at coming up with creative ideas and implementing them is that they grew up in an environment where their creative potential was fostered through challenging tasks and practice. With adequate training through cognitive exercises and a commitment to improving, anyone can harness this skill at any age.
5. Creative ideas are conceived in a sudden flash of insight
Many popular stories about innovative ideas revolve around an ‘AHA’ moment, a sudden flash of realization; like Newton discovering gravitational law when an apple fell on his head. This encourages the notion that creative ideas don’t require any prior work, however, the reality is completely opposite. Newton had already been working on gravitational forces and the apple incident only gave him a breakthrough.
Creativity grows out of hard work, experimentation, and exploration. Our brain requires material to work with and information to sort through long before it gives us the ‘AHA’ moment.
6. Creativity is needed in the field of arts only
Creating art is one of the many ways in which creativity is expressed, but that doesn’t mean it’s limited to the field of art itself. Mathematicians, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, marketers, psychologists, etc are as creative as musicians, writers, painters, and so on, only their manifestation of it differs. In fact, all of us utilize our creative problem-solving skills in one way or another, but we never realize it.
7. Collective brainstorming increases creative output
Evidence suggests otherwise. Research carried out at Texas A&M University in 2012 had found that group brainstorming stifles creativity by emphasizing group mentality. In such settings, people unconsciously become focused on the ideas of others and their own individuality takes a back seat. In another study conducted at Yale University, students came up with twice the number of solutions to problems individually than in a group.
This is why it’s important to give people some time to reflect and then bring them together to analyze their ideas. Also, brainstorming is often suggested to boost creativity, but it is what we do with those ideas afterward that truly makes the difference.
8. Creativity is hindered by constraints
Creativity loves constraints. When we have complete freedom and unlimited resources we often get confused and end up losing focus. In contrast, a framework and a set of rules truly unlock our creative potential because we are forced to think critically, alter our perspective, and drive maximum benefit out of limited resources.
9. Creativity is generating completely unique ideas
It is impossible to always come up with an idea that never existed before. Almost all ideas are built on already existing ideas. How well you combine those ideas, add your own element to them and execute them is what truly represents creativity.
10. Creativity is enhanced under pressure
It depends on individual differences. For some people, this might be true and for others, the result might be disastrous. To state this as a fact is wrong. The right way to fuel creativity is to identify the variables that work the best for you.
Creativity myths, to sum it up, are rampant because there is no one way to define creativity. It differs from individual to individual and from situation to situation. Safe to say, none of us are devoid of it.