Creativity: As Defined by Whom

A famous scientist was once asked what the difference was between his creativity and that of others in his field. The scientist replied, “Well, when my colleagues asked to find a needle in a haystack, they eventually do find that one needle. But when I’m asked to find a needle in a haystack, I will find it. But, you see, the difference between them and me is that – I continue to dig in and throughout that haystack… I dig….and dig…and dig….Eventually I will find another needle, and another, and another. Observers look at the results of my labor and say that I am creative. But, in reality, I am simply persistent.”

This anecdotal story says a lot, begging several questions:
• Is this scientist creative – according to whom?
• By whose standards (individual or culture) are we judging this scientist’s creativity?
• More questions, etc.

These simple questions above further reinforce the notion that the domain of creativity is subjective. What one person thinks is creative another may find to be just the opposite. You might be thinking, “So what.” Or “And the point being?…” Or even “What’s the significance of this?” The significance is if you are operating at optimum performance, doing what you do well, consistently getting creative results by your design, then someone comes along and attempts to poo poo the results of your hard work, do you say to them, “Well you are right. Oops. Sorry.” Or do you continue to be the creative person you are – as defined by you?

Yes, just as the scientist above defined his effort and the fruits of it as persistence while others defined it as creative, you too must construct your own definition of what is creativity – according to you. If a personal definition of creativity is lacking from your framework, then whatever you structurally build will crumble when it’s exposed to external elements. For example, the subjective view points and criticisms of others, etc. Your work habits, personal style and expression, and more, will be influenced, pulled, pushed and distorted by criteria and definitions that aren’t yours. The consequences are you will lose your vision.

It is a good thing if an individual or a culture subscribes to your definition and savors the fruits of your endeavor. But, know this: because you are operating in the domain of creativity, you will be confronted by those that will dislike/disapprove of what and how you get your intended results…you just can’t please everyone. And that, too, is a good thing.

Defining creativity is not just for individuals. Groups can also benefit when its members share a unified definition.

The beauty of having your own personal definition is that it can evolve as you do. It doesn’t have to stay rigid. You get to change or adjust it anytime you want.

And just how do you construct a definition that’s strong, yet flexible enough to enhance your creativity?

***Come to our Creativity Enhancement™ workshop

© Copyright – John G. Johnson 2006 – All rights reserved!