Creativity isn’t a trait that some people have and others don’t. Before I explain why that’s true, let me first define what I mean by creativity. If one hundred people looked at the same abstract painting by Jackson Pollock, many of them might say, “Oh, that artist is really creative,” but not everyone. If one hundred people watched the TV seriesSo You Think You Can Dance, many of them might say, “The dancers are creative,” or “The choreographers are creative.” If one hundred people listened to music by Philip Glass, some might say, “That composer is creative.”
What if one hundred people went to a fashion show? Would everyone say that the clothing designers are creative? Or what if they saw a graffiti artist’s work on a wall—would they say that the artist is creative? What about people who design technology? Are they creative?
There are many possible definitions of creativity. We probably won’t agree entirely on the definition or on the results. However, here’s a definition I’ve put together that I find descriptive and useful:
"Creativity is the process of generating new ideas, possibilities, or alternatives that result inoutcomes that are original and of value."
Here’s why I like this definition:
Process—The word “process” is in the definition. So, creativity isn’t a trait that some people have and other people don’t. There’s actually a creative process that you can follow.
Outcomes—Just doing the process isn’t necessarily being creative. If you follow a creative process, and by doing so you end up with something, that’s an outcome. Being creative means that you have something when you’re done.
Original—The definition includes the word “original.” Being creative isn’t just copying what somebody else did. When you’re creative, you end up with something unique.
Value—When you’re creative, the outcome is of value to someone. It doesn’t have to be of value to everyone, but it has to be of value to someone.
Even with this definition, we may not necessarily agree on who’s creative and who’s not. But the definition gives us a place to start talking about creativity, and a way to evaluate whether or not a particular activity is creative.
Let’s clear up some myths about creativity:
Hopefully this debunks some of the myths about creativity.
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