I’m certain you’ve experienced one of the following.
You complete a project and someone remarks “Wow, I wish I was creative like you!”
Or—You see someone who wrapped up a project, impressed, you say, “Wow, you’re creative!”
I’ve been on the side of someone telling me I’m creative—back story, I’m a visual designer and pretty wicked with a pencil, see image.
It’s an interesting complement to receive. As far as I'm concerned, creativity is a state of being. It feels elitist to own something subjective like creativity.
I think more importantly, being creative is a status symbol in our society. And because it’s a status symbol, people reach for the cookie jar. That hinders the meaning of creativity. Creativity in the cookie-jar-sense is popularity.
I don’t want to get into status. It’s a weird thing to me, and another conversation.
What does it mean to be creative?
I assume creative means to be prolific, there’s an original touch, and a beneficial impact. Prolific meaning bearing fruit. You show up everyday to do the good work including the work for self-worth/self-care/self-love. Original touch is an element of newness. A fresh perspective that is a statement on it’s own. Impact. It changes the way people feel in a human-centric way.
Think about this: there are creative accountants getting maximum tax returns, there are creative monks who painted illuminated manuscripts and brewed beer, there are creative sanitation workers who dance while throwing the trash into the back of the truck. Do you feel status creeping in?
There is a prerequisite with being creative-you must be open to infinite possibilities in respect to achieving a goal.
This goal can be whatever you want. As a creative director my goal is to expose truth in an interesting way so that the audience takes information and becomes better for it. As an artist my goal is to disrupt stagnant energy by being brutally honest in the messaging and offering space to accept insight.
If I were to explain creativity like an equation, it would look something like this:
Goal + Understanding + Value = Art.
This is my understanding today, and I know it will evolve.
How might we learn how to be creative?
I’m going to explain something so I can say something.
In 1975, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined the term “flow” or flow state. The concept had been around for millennia. He describes flow as the "optimal experience" in that one gets to a level of high gratification from the experience.
Also, it leaves room for setting “conditions” to achieve this state. It is a state—surrendering to the moment. Here’s what he put together to get to this state of conscious:
1. Know what to do
2. Know how to do it
3. Know how well you are doing
4. Know where to go (if navigation is involved)
5. High perceived challenges
6. High perceived skills
7. Freedom from distractions
"Flow is an unimpeded loop between action and feedback." —Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
What is creativity?
How can I be creative?
Know what you're asking.
These are personal questions and can only be answered by you and from you. What works for you won’t work for someone else.
It’s not about what you do. It’s your attention (surrender) to intention (goal).
Dare I say, “being creative” is inverted.
Creative is being.
Just be it.