So many Highly Creative People don’t think of themselves as creative because they are not artsy, craft-y, or quirky. They are hiding in plain sight.

Like Clark Kent in his glasses, the Non-Artistic Highly Creative Person (HCP) isn’t flashy or even obvious to themselves. But behind those spectacles is a mind that just won’t quit. The brain of the HCP is a perpetual motion machine, always seeking out new projects to try, new problems to solve and new wheels to spin.

For example, Ray from Kentucky is an engineer who creates communication networks. But he has also built a boat out of piece parts, figured out how to climb trees so he could design and build a zip-line in the backyard, knows everything there is to know about Jet Skis, and he plays the ukulele. But if you asked him he might say he’s a “Jack of all trades,” but I doubt he’d ever describe himself as a Highly Creative Person.

And Zena works in accounting for a digital marketing company. She’s famous around the office for bringing in the coffee beans she roasts at home (she doesn’t drink coffee herself) and the elaborate vegan desserts she invents on the weekends. She is studying Swedish, does the Sunday crossword in ink and has been known to write bawdy birthday limericks for family and friends. She has also spent hours learning about dog training, even though she only has two cats. She jokes that it’s so she can better train her boyfriend, but really it’s because she can’t turn away from anything she finds fascinating.

There are Non-Artistic HCPs everywhere – roaming the halls of corporate America, working on oil rigs and driving Ubers. Here are a few of the qualities of the HCP – you can take the full quiz HERE.

  • Has a grillion ideas all the time
  • Is good at a lot of things
  • Not particularly motivated by money or prestige
  • Suspicious of anything that’s too popular; zigs when others zag
  • Tends to overcomplicate

Having a Non-Artistic HCP in your life is a wonderful blessing, because they are always up to something interesting. They love to immerse themselves in their latest area of interest, becoming an armchair expert on anything and everything, which makes for lively dinner conversations. They also tend to have very high standards, so if they recommend something, you can be pretty sure it’s good. It is also my experience that they have a need to prove things for themselves. If you tell them it’s raining, they’ll stick their head out the window to check. Try to find this quality of the autodidact charming rather than annoying, OK?

If you are lucky enough to have an Non-Artistic HCP around your home or office (about 10-15% of the population qualifies as an HCP, so it’s likely there’s at least a few in your life) here are a few guidelines:

  1. Give them freedom All HCPs tend to be anti-authoritarian, but if they believe in a project, they will work longer, harder, faster and better than anyone. Don’t make them follow dumb rules or do pointless busy work. Let them invent their own projects if possible, and allow them time to work on their passions.
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  3. Engage with them around their values. In my experience, Non-Artistic HCPs tend to be highly ethical people, without a lot of the virtue-signaling flamboyance demonstrated by some artsy types. Get clear about what they care about, and whenever possible, tie your requests to their values. There’s a big difference between, “I need this done by Friday,” and “If this is done by Friday, the whole team will be able to breathe easier. If it’s any later than Friday, there will be a lot of stress and rushing around. Do you think a Friday deadline is possible?”
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  5. Don’t try to flatter or bullshit a Non-Artistic HCP. They won’t fall for cheap tricks. Vanity isn’t really their thing. Approach them quietly and with respect. Ask their advice, and listen carefully to their answers, because they tend to over-deliver, and you’ll get more than you expected. They like being the unsung hero, the power behind the throne, the (real) wizard behind the curtain, so they may shy away from public recognition, but be sure to let them know that their contributions have not gone unnoticed. Find out their love language and reward them generously – the loyalty of a Non-Artistic HCP is priceless.

Just because a person doesn’t paint or sing or wear funny clothes does not mean that they are not a Highly Creative Person. After all, the heart of creativity is problem-solving, which makes an HCP a very helpful person to have around.

P.S. Highly Creative People, or "HCP's" as I like to call us, are the most underutilized resource on the planet. Together we can change that because the world needs our unique talents and genius, and there's no time to waste.

Think you might be a Highly Creative Person?