I was in a roomful of 15-20 people today at my Toastmasters club and the person running the meeting asked everyone “If you think you’re creative, raise your hand” — and do you know how many people stuck their hands in the air?
And one of them was me.
Here was an assembled group of people investing their personal time to improve their speaking skills by writing and delivering original content to the club several times per month and only ONE person (other than the goofball who literally calls himself “The Idea Guy”) considered themselves to be “creative”.
There’s actually a point in every Toastmaster’s meeting where members volunteer to go to the front of the room and riff for 1-2 minutes on a random topic given to them mere seconds ago. They’re pulling together a short speech off the top of their head and delivering it to an audience and they don’t think they’re creative?
I felt Sad.
I truly think everyone possesses a level of personal creativity.
The level will rise and fall depending on the person’s current attitude (negativity blocks creativity), the amount of inspirational stimuli they expose themselves to, and their interest in developing a habit to increase their creative thinking skills.
Think you’re not creative?
At the most basic level, our brains automatically look for patterns and options. You don’t even have to consciously tell your brain to do so — it just churns away in the background… noticing things.
Pattern recognition is why you can predict what the logical next step is after you experience a situation, are delivered information, or hear a story.
If I began a story with “Once upon a time there was a vicious dragon that terrorized a village” and then I asked you to continue the story, you’d be able to come up with something pretty quickly because the pattern of this story feels familiar. You might say the dragon kidnapped a princess next, or perhaps say that a brave knight came forth to do battle — that’s your innate creativity at work.
Let me give you a different example…
If you’re driving home from work during rush hour and traffic is moving agonizingly slow, your brain will begin plotting an alternate course to take home in order to avoid the traffic. You’re not consciously researching other routes home — your brain is simply applying some creative ideas when you pass a street that you know leads to a less-traveled parallel route. That’s you being creative!
Still don’t agree?
Think on that terrible traffic jam again. Some idiot is driving on the shoulder of the road and forcing their vehicle into the lane ahead of you, causing traffic to slow from a crawl to a dead stop until the lane can accommodate the encroacher.
Where’s the example of creativity?
Think about all the imaginative names you called the driver and where they could insert pieces of the motor vehicle into cavities on their body as they were squeezing their vehicle in the lane.
Those are some pretty creative cursing combinations!