by Terri Segal
I have always considered creativity to be an artistic and an intuitive process. I am creative when I draw, paint, drum, write, express through the arts. Nobody ever told me in school, nor in my home that I was being creative when I found a solution to a problem, made a decision, or came up with a new idea that I was excited about.
It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized my definition of creativity as being only an artistic expression is actually a MYTH. Creativity goes way beyond the arts, it intersects with every aspect of life, it is a skill, it is a thought process, and when used effectively, helps us embrace change and drive change.
We are wired to shut down new ideas before they have even had a chance, for fear that “it will never work, that it is a bad idea, that we will be judged.” As children, our creativity is free, we play and engage our imagination without inhibition, without limits. And as we grow up and enter the school system that tends to favour “one right answer,” our new and different ideas are shut down. As we become youth, then adults, then seniors, our creative thinking skills are not fostered and developed. We close our minds to possibilities, we stay within our comfort zones, we stop taking risks, we become afraid of the new, we maintain the same self-limiting patterns of thought and behaviour that repeats old patterns and keeps us within the confines of fixed mindsets.
The good news is: creativity, like any skill can be developed and improved upon! Scientific research shows that creative thinking encompasses two distinct thought processes; divergent (generating many ideas) and convergent thinking (analyzing, judging and selecting). We are trained to flip flop between divergent thinking and convergent thinking without even realizing it. We judge our ideas before they have had a chance.
Creative thinking separates these two thought processes. First, it is important to generate lots and lots of ideas, without judgement, without limiting ourselves. We allow our ideas to flow, we allow one idea to spark another idea, we make connections between two ideas that may not seem to have any correlation. The more ideas we allow ourselves to come up with, the more connections we make, the more possibilities we have to choose from and the more likely we will be to create a “breakthrough” solution to our challenge or opportunity. Only after many ideas have been generated do we engage in convergent thinking; we evaluate, analyze, choose and turn our idea into a reality.
Change is occurring more and more rapidly. Finding solutions to challenges and opportunities that do not have a prescribed answer or a blueprint or a map we can follow requires us to make use of our creativity and creative thinking ability. To fully embrace change, we need to give all of our ideas room to be heard and explored, we need to suspend judgement of ourselves and others and approach challenges as opportunities, with a creative mind-set; openness, flexibility & adaptability.
Terri Segal is one of our amazing presenters, and will definitely be offering something this year… we just don’t know what yet!