Why is it that some people can dream up unbelievably creative concepts, while others struggle to think outside the box, lacking creative solutions? What is it that sets creative people apart? Is it biological? Environmental? A mixture of both?
Well, as Steve Jobs once said, “creativity is just connecting things.” And as usual, he was right.
What makes a creative individual stand apart from the crowd, is their ability to visualize unrelated concepts and then make connections. This is a skill that’s developed based on experience. Makes sense, right? If this is the case, then why are some people more creative than others? Based on research, scientists think they know the answer. First, let’s examine what creativity is.
What’s Creativity All About?
Creativity is one’s ability to generate ideas and concepts based on alternative thinking. We tend to associate creativity with individuals who can draw, write music, and paint. Although these individuals most certainly exude creative abilities, there are other individuals who display their creativity in other ways.
Creativity is the process of thinking, then producing. Within the workplace, being creative gives you an upper edge in a competitive market. A study conducted by Adobe in 2012 showed that eight out of ten people feel as though unlocking creativity is essential to economic growth. With that being said, only one out of four people believe that they’re personally living up to their creative potential.
Artistic Temperament Study
Conducted by Edward Necka and Teresa Hlawacz and published in the Creativity Research Journal, this study looked at sixty artists and sixty bank officers. Researchers wanted to examine the link between creativity and temperament. Their goal was to test the participants in order to discover the effects of temperament and divergent thinking which is the process of generating ideas based on multiple solutions. Creativity was measured using Urban and Jellen’s Test for Creative Thinking – Drawing Production, as well as a test that required word categorization; whereas temperamental traits were measured using Strelau’s Formal Characteristic of Behavior – Temperament Inventory.
What they found was that artists and bankers were fairly similar in terms of their temperament. The main difference was that artists scored high in both divergent thinking and temperament. Some of the traits relating to the artists’ temperament that set them apart from bankers were their endurance, activity, and briskness.
What this means, is that creative people are able to think more quickly on their feet, especially when they’re under stress. This is a trait that’s highly valued in the workplace. Creative individuals tend to be problem solvers and are generally those who are able to effectively strategize, coming up with unique solutions. The most revealing of these traits was activity level. When referring to one’s temperament, activity means the amount that we engage in from day-to-day. Someone who has a high activity level is more likely to be involved and engaged, while someone with a low activity level is likely to be more reserved and quiet.
Basically, it was found that a high score regarding activity meant individuals were more likely to use their experience to fuel their thought process, increasing creativity. What they concluded is that the more you experience, the more creative you become. Our experiences create a kind of base which we are then able to draw and make connections from. A richness of input creates a richness of output. Many diverse experiences help individuals rise above regarding divergent thinking and creative ideas. This is why it’s beneficial to expose yourself to new concepts and environments while meeting new people.
How Openness Plays a Role
Experience is key, which is related to another key trait regarding creative individuals: openness. Many successful creative individuals tend to be open to new experiences, meaning they’re open to new opportunities and ideas. There are four factors that dictate your level of openness:
- Explicit cognitive ability: These are traditional measures of intelligence, such as working memory and verbal reasoning.
- Intellectual engagement: This is the drive individuals have to search for the truth and engage in rational thought.
- Affective engagement: This a preference to use emotions and empathy to make decisions.
- Aesthetic engagement: This is a preference to use fantasy and aesthetics within artistic and cultural stimuli.
Where you fall on the openness scale can be identified by looking at your social interactions. Those that are less open may seem dull and conventional to you, whereas those that are more open may appear bizarre and disruptive. Being open to experience allows for a greater input, shaping creativity which is a matter of output. This relates back to the research conducted by Edward Necka and Teresa Hlawacz. Those who display higher activity levels, have more experiences, leading to greater levels of creativity. The more experiences you have, the greater the possibilities are regarding the connections you make.
Boost Your Level of Creativity
Having a creative mind can set you apart, allowing you to thrive in the workplace. When you increase your level of creativity, you will be able to solve problems and approach various situations more effectively. This is the type of employees that employers want on their teams. They want innovative thinkers who come up with creative ideas.
If you think that you’re not creative, think again. You do not need to be a writer, artist, or musician in order to be creative. Creativity isn’t a skill that’s restricted to these individuals. In fact, it’s said that we’re all born creative. It’s a skill that needs to be developed and properly managed. Luckily you can boost creative abilities through a few simple steps:
- Be curious and ask questions. An inquiring mind is one whose creativity is active. An individual who is curious experiences more than other people do, simply by seeking answers to their questions. Each day, challenge yourself and seek answers.
- Keep up-to-date in your field, reading magazines and journals. Creativity begins based on a foundation of knowledge.
- Set goals and engage in various creative hobbies. When you experience new hobbies, you learn things outside of your comfort zone. In turn, this will allow you to bring new concepts and ideas from one area of your life to another.
- Avoid rigid patterns when doing things and solving problems. We’re prone to take the path of least mental resistance. Instead, set limitations for yourself so you’re forced to think outside the box. Those who are highly creative tend to display individuality and unconventionality.
- Network in order to expose yourself to individuals who offer different concepts and perspectives that are unique to your own. Observe the behavior of others, identifying and learning new ways of doing things.
See Also: Top 10 Careers That Encourage Creativity
Feeling as though you need to be born with creative abilities only diminishes confidence. You need to move away from the idea that being creative is a gift. Thinking that someone is more creative than you based on the talents they were born with is simply a myth. You too can become more creative, you just need to work towards your goals. Practice discovery skills such as association, observation, networking, experimenting, and questioning. In no time, you will develop greater levels of creativity and innovation which will take your career to the next level. Over time, your creative confidence will grow, allowing you to make connections with ease. It’s time to get those creative juices flowing.