October 5, 2008

No Genius Necessary: Crushing the Common Myths of Creativity

There are some common myths surrounding the topic of creativity in humans, including one that states a creative individual must be a genius or have a special talent set in order to do things like solving problems, thinking outside the box and creating works of art. Here are some of the prevailing myths and the truth behind them.

You Either Have it or you Don’t

Many people believe that not everyone is creative. This is not true. Everyone has some level of creativity, and you can even train yourself to become more creative. There are many ways you can do this, such as immersing yourself in art, taking a creative course such as writing, music or photography, learning a new skill, and even using this mandala coloring book on the Google App store.

You Must be an Artist to be Creative

This one can be cleared up pretty quickly. While artists such as Van Gogh, Mozart, and Vivaldi were most certainly creative, there are many other forms of creativity. Preparing a meal, writing a story, drawing a design, designing and making a dress and thinking outside the box are all acts of creativity.

To be Creative you Must be Right-brained

This harmful myth suggests that you can only be creative if you have the right type of brain. While it is true that the left and right hemispheres of the brain do function differently, let’s not forget that they are connected to a vast array of nerve fibers and both sides of the brain are used for different types of creativity. It is also incorrect to claim that some people are right-brained and some people left-brained, brain scans reveal no evidence to support this.

You Must be a Loner, an Eccentric or a Genius to be Creative

These are outmoded stereotypes which are unhelpful because they suggest that the route to creativity is to isolate yourself from others. On the other hand, discussion and collaboration are excellent stimulants for creativity. Don’t forget, Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine chapel single-handedly; he had a team of talented painters to help him. Similarly, the notion of creative people as geniuses is also a myth. Having a high IQ is not synonymous with being highly creative.

You Need Incentives to Be Creative

It doesn’t necessarily follow that if you promise someone a reward, they will be more creative. Research has shown that the opposite may, in fact, be true. Work that is driven by ambition and reward rather than the pleasure of doing it, is often less creative. When judged independently the work of artists created for their own pleasure was found to be better than the work they produced for a fee.

Every single individual holds the potential for creative imagination. All you need to do is to tap into it, nurture it and stimulate it and you will soon be rewarded with new and inspiring ideas.

William Macdonald is a wellness coach who inspires people to lead a better life, whether that’s through pursuing a new hobby and/or managing their stress so that they can enjoy more of life’s smaller moments.

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