It’s so easy to speak in absolutes – people are optimists or downers, they are hard workers or smart or lazy or outgoing.
It’s natural for us to want to define one another, and ourselves, but it’s also dangerous. The more I delve into the psychology of creativity and innovation the more I encounter the inherent complexity of humans. Our stories are powerful and varied with many sides and voices. Well-formed stories can represent our values, our social norms and our cultural viewpoints all in the space of a few lines of text.
Think for a moment – what adjectives do you use to describe yourself? Are there many? Are they contradictory? Where are they sourced from?
There was an interesting moment one day last week when I found myself admonishing myself for not spending enough time with someone important to me. Automatically I was calling myself a bad friend. The thing is though, if I were to be speaking to anyone else I would have the logical mind to remind him or her that starting a business, active learning and maintaining personal and professional relationships takes a lot of time. I would remind that friend that one missed opportunity does not define a person.
In the same way that I am not defined by that experience, people are not one creative or non-creative based on their past actions.
There are so many chances to look at the world differently, to suggest a new or innovative path or process – whether in work, at school or elsewhere in life – that it is unlikely that any of us is non-creative. In fact, it’s more likely that we are trapped in narratives that define creative people only as artists, writers, dancers and those working in “creative” fields like advertising.
Imagine what you could be doing if, from youth, you’d been told that science, accounting, law or banking were also creative fields. What new products, procedures or revenue streams might you be developing if your mind was more open to the potential for creativity in all professions?
The narratives and stories that we share and those we impose and ourselves and others can be limiting and even dangerous as the video below reveals. In the video below, Chimamanda Adichie uses her experience as an author, a Nigerian and an African student in America to take a look at the power of stories and of definition.
Some more questions for today – What are you imposing on yourself? How could a new perspective free up your ideas your relationships and your mind?
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