- Yes You Do Have it!
Diana Robinson, Ph.D
CREATIVE - Yes, you are!
CREATIVITY - Yes, you DO have it!
When I began studying creativity as the topic of my doctoral
dissertation I was amazed at the enormous number of definitions
of creativity through which I needed to wade in order to come up
with the definition that I would use in my research. In the
process, I became very aware that, though some people may bemoan
their belief that they are " just not creative," in
fact it is almost certain that they have creativity in some form.
For some people, the block is their belief that there is no
reservoir of creativity for them to tap into. For others, fear of
failure, fear of stepping over the edge of what is appropriate or
socially acceptable may be a stumbling block.
Because creativity is of such
interest to so many areas of our lives, it has been studied
intensively, and there are many competing ways of studying it,
and of defining it. In general, it is accepted that there are
several levels of creativity. True, relatively few of us at
attain to the highest levels, but at the other levels we all have
a good chance. One series of "levels" that was proposed
many years age still works well. This describes creativity levels
innovative, inventive, productive, and expressive.
creativity involves bringing
forth a principle or idea that is entirely new to humankind, and
that has far-reaching effects on how we perceive reality.
Einstein and Newton come immediately to mind, which explains why
such a level may not be attainable for most of us.
Next comes Innovative
creativity. Here creative
individuals builds on their knowledge of whatever field they are
in, climbing on the shoulders of their predecessors, so to speak,
to reach even higher levels of new understanding and ideas.
creativity finds new uses for
existing concepts and parts, while productive creativity is the description given when someone
develops objects or ideas that are new to him or her, but not
necessarily to other people. Quite often, this may be a
developmental stage for those who will, if they do not get
discouraged, move on to inventive or innovative creativity.
Lastly is expressive
creativity , which expresses
feelings and ideas but does not need any particular skill or
originality. This is well illustrated by the pictures that
parents often place on their refrigerators or family
notice-boards after young children have excitedly brought their
latest art effort home from school.
Most of us probably hope we have moved past the expressive level,
and realize that the emergent level may be beyond us. However,
the other three levels may well be open to us. Clearly the person
who is innovatively creative needs to have mastered a field of
knowledge in order to be able to add to it. The more the field is
mastered, the less likely is an individual to come up with an
idea that has already been discovered, which would move it down
to the "productive" level.
At its baseline, creativity involves developing something new and
original, that is yet appropriate for whatever it is needed for.
In art, that may mean that there are few limits. In business, the
need for appropriateness demands that the creative solution be a
real solution, that will work, and will work within the bounds of
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. This means
that whenever we find a way to do something without the tools, or
parts, or other resources that are conventionally required for
the task, we are probably being inventively creative.
Interestingly, this may mean that we become more creative in hard
times. In easy times, when stores and shops are open day and
night and there is plenty of money to buy whatever is needed,
there is little need for invention, for "making do"
with parts that are not intended for the task at hand. When times
are hard, or emergency strikes, we
must work with what is at hand, and when we do that, we are being
creative. A vivid example is shown in the film Apollo 13, in
which the crew members must save their lives, and the mission,
using only what was at hand in ways for which the various items
were never intended.
For some people, there is the idea that we are only creative if
we can paint, or write, or sculpt. Yet creativity is far wider
than that. You have almost certainly solved problems creatively
for one reason or another, even if it was once making up an
excuse for being home late or not having done your homework. I
have written before of an individual who once told me how sad he
was that he was not creative, when in fact I knew that he was
capable of inventing the most fantastic schemes and stories to
further his own purposes. Sometimes creativity just needs to be
channeled into useful areas.
That is where some people fear creativity - they fear that it
will be unduly disruptive, and sometimes it is. Creativity
demands something new. This can be threatening to the old.
Creativity steps over the lines of what has been done before, and
therefore steps into the territory of the unknown. The unknown
can be fearsome. Yet, if you do not become friends with the
unknown, you will never discover new horizons.
I believe it was the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland who
announced that she tried to believe "one impossible
thing" every day before breakfast. Perhaps believing the
impossible is a bit much. But if we are to learn to welcome our
own creativity, and not to fear leaving our well known and well
traveled thought patterns (otherwise described as
"ruts"), it is not a bad idea to at least try to
consider something - an opposing point of view, a synthesis of
two opposites, or a completely new use for some everyday item -
every day before breakfast.
By pushing the envelope of your imagination, you will nurture
your creativity day by day until you never have to think, even
for one moment, that you are not creative just because you do not
paint, or write, or sculpt. You can be as creative as you allow
your imagination to be... for in imagination there are no
© Diana Robinson
Diana Robinson first
published this article her ezine Work in Progress.
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Diana Robinson, Ph.D.
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