I’ve heard a lot lately from adults who say they are not creative. “Oh, I’m not creative, I could never do that.” Of course, I go into a didactic speech of why they are creative and how anyone can create art if they just gave it a chance. They smile politely and we continue down a safer path of conversation.
Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how he remains an artist once he grows up.” You see, the key is not in the creation, but in the perception of creation. There’s something that happens to many of us sometime around the 3rd grade. As children, there is a time when our creative experiences become vulnerable to others around us.
We might have heard as children, “Your picture is dumb,” or “Horses aren’t purple,” or “Why did you make it like that?” Those comments, those judgements, bounce around in our heads creating fear and doubt and ultimately snuff out our creative nature. And our perception of our own creativity is altered, sometimes for the rest of our lives. My husband still remembers his elementary school art teacher taking down his picture from the bulletin board and replacing it with another child’s picture. He perceived, at that very young age, that his artwork, his own creation, was not good enough.
I live and work with creative people and ideas every day. But, I struggle with the fear of not being good enough and find myself avoiding actively creating for days and weeks at a time. I have a half finished painting that’s been sitting on my easel for the better part of a year because I fear that I won’t like the finished product. Even this blog, I put off for weeks at a time because I want every word to be perfect and meaningful and I’m not sure I want to be that vulnerable.
I recently listened to a wonderfully relevant TED talk called “How to Build Your Creative Confidence” by David Kelley, the CEO of the design firm IDEO. He talked about how our society has divided people into the “creatives” and the “non-creatives.” In reality, we are all creative and if we give ourselves the chance and stick with the process long enough, we end up doing amazing things. He has seen people surprise themselves with their innovation born out of fearless creativity. His daily goal is to “help people regain the creative confidence that was lost along the way.” I agree with Mr. Kelley. Many of us have lost our creative confidence.
How do we regain it? Just start. And realize that whatever you try might not be perfect, but the process, given the chance, will take you to new places. No, you don’t have to be the next Pablo Picasso or even the next Steve Jobs. But, you can take a first step to discovering your natural creativity that you had as a child, before your picture was taken off the bulletin board. My first step is to continue to explore creativity in this blog space, to give you ideas and insights that may encourage you in your creative journey.