Being creative…

I wanted to continue on creativity since I had mentioned it in connection with likes in the last article. When I mention creativity, I am not referring to artistic creativity, I am simply referring to creativity as –

Creativity – ability to create, to produce or use original unusual ideas.

And that includes all of us, not just artists – whether we write, create products, apps, or use our creativity in coming up with novel dish ideas with our unique culinary experiments. Well, some of those experimental dishes are not exactly palatable, but I am not going there. 😛

This is what I am getting at – all of us are creative. Allow me to elaborate this with insights from some of the most creative minds of our time, including founder of IDEO and author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.

Discovering your creativity

David Kelley is founder of the legendary design house IDEO and a professor at Stanford University. He has received several honors for his contributions to design and design education, so he knows a thing or two about creativity. The story that Mr. Kelley narrates in this TED talk struck a chord within, I have experienced it myself with many kids including my own.

I remember one day my best friend Brian was working on a project. He was making a horse out of the clay our teacher kept under the sink. And at one point, one of the girls that was sitting at his table, seeing what he was doing, leaned over and said to him, “That’s terrible. That doesn’t look anything like a horse.” And Brian’s shoulders sank. And he wadded up the clay horse and he threw it back in the bin. I never saw Brian do a project like that ever again.
And then some kind of opt out of thinking of themselves as creative at that point. And I see that opting out that happens in childhood, and it moves in and becomes more ingrained, even, by the time you get to adult life.

I  think most of us may have similar stories from our own childhood or adolescence.

Kelley mentions Albert Bandura, his self-efficacy theory about which I had written here earlier. He explains how they use similar guided-mastery in their design thinking courses and workshops where participants progressively discover their own creative traits.

Interestingly, Kelley narrates famous design-thinking story of GE’s Doug Dietz, in case you haven’t read or heard about it already, here it goes.

Doug Dietz is a technical person from GE, who designed large MRI machines that hospitals used. Kids who needed an MRI dreaded those machines and as large as 80% of the kids needed sedation while using his MRI machine. He met one such young girl who was terrified while undergoing an MRI, and that really disturbed Doug Dietz. He was saving lives with his machine, but it hurt him to see that it caused fear in kids. During his design thinking classes at D-school, Standford – he redesigned this entire experience. He turned it into an adventure for the kids –  a pirate ship that makes noise and moves. The results were dramatic – kids requiring sedation reduced from 80% to 10%. This is one of the success stories that is often narrated in almost every design thinking workshop or course, and you can watch that transformation story here.

Do watch the talk, you get to see the transformed MRI machine photo and it is wonderful to hear it from the guru, David Kelley himself.

Kelley draws some valuable insights from his own experience of surviving cancer, and about his own calling – to help people become more confident about their own creativity. This article is not only about this single TED talk though, I want to delve deeper. TED has two wonderful playlists dedicated to creativity and if you’re really intrigued, I’d recommend that you spare some time and go through these amazing TED talks.

Kickstart your creativity

This is a great playlist with six creativity TED talks including Kelley’s talk that I have discussed above. It also includes another insightful TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’) titled – Your elusive creative genius, where she discusses that instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. Another impressive talk from this playlist is by well-known organizational psychologist Adam GrantThe surprising habits of original thinkers. Grant discusses how creative people come up with great ideas, and their willingness to embrace failures. He further discusses originals, the non-conformists. There are three more interesting talks here, by Kirby Ferguson – Embrace the remix,  Young-ha Kim – Be an artist, right now, and Phil Hansen – Embrace the shake. You can watch this entire playlist below –

Simple ways to spark your creativity

This is another creativity playlist with seven TED talks that focus more on igniting the creativity. It also contains the same talk by Adam GrantThe surprising habits of original thinkers. Besides his talk, there are some more interesting titles: Marily Oppezzo –Want to be more creative? Go for a walk, Shimpei Takahashi  – Play this word game to come up with original ideas, Tim Harford – How frustration can make us more creative, Erin McKean – Go ahead, make up new words, Manoush Zomorodi – How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas, and Jia Jiang – What I learned from 100 days of rejection. It won’t be possible to write about each one of them, but if you get curious about one of these titles, it’s probably worth watching that TED talk. It is particularly noteworthy that two of these talks about creativity resulting from boredom or frustration. Watch this playlist here –

Creative Confidence

Creative Confidence
Creative Confidence

I am sure if you watch all of these TED talks about creativity, you would be convinced that creativity is not a rare talent for gifted few.

If you like reading, here is one book that I can recommend – Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley & Tom Kelley where they elaborate the entire concept of creative confidence quite well. The book takes the idea of building your creative confidence further. The authors discuss strategies for tapping our own creativity. They also explain how we can use empathy while solving any problem, this is exactly what Doug Dietz used while designing his MRI machine.

Adam Grant’s book Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World builds on his work about original thinkers that he has discussed in the TED talk mentioned above. There is tons of other material available as well, but my focus for this article has been elaborating that all of us are inherently creative. It is just that we should allow ourselves to express our ideas more freely, and perhaps put more colours and faith in them.

Kelley captures it quite well –

It would be really great if you didn’t let people divide the world into the creatives and the non-creatives, like it’s some God-given thing, and to have people realize that they’re naturally creative, and that those natural people should let their ideas fly.

~ David Kelley

The featured images:

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay, and I am using it here with gratitude.

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