And there are too many people walking around saying that they are “not creative” when what they really mean is that they are not artistic. And by not leaning in to their creativity, they are depriving all of us of their special kind of brilliance.
Let’s be clear: there are plenty of Highly Creative People who are not in the least bit artsy. You can often find them in the lab, the library and the coder’s lounge.
So what, exactly, does it mean to be creative?
The Latin origin of the word means “produce,” and eventually it grew to mean, “the ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative.” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/creativity)
A non-stop flow of original ideas all the time is one of the hallmarks of the HCP.
Take this brief self-assessment:
- I have ideas all the time.
- I have ideas while I’m working on other ideas.
- My ideas wake me up when I’m sleeping.
- When other people share their ideas with me, I immediately have ideas about their idea.
- I find it hard to prioritize my ideas.
- I have a shoebox/storage tub/entire spare room filled with notes about my ideas.
- I have way more ideas than I could ever implement.
- I have ideas that are far outside of my expertise (for example, I have ideas about designs for clothing, even though I have no training or experience in the fashion industry.)
Did you answer YES to more than five of the eight?
Congratulations, you are a Highly Creative Person. (Don’t believe me? Take the quiz right here and see for yourself!)
Having a lot of ideas is not a character defect.
Having a lot of ideas does not make you flaky, ADD, ADHD, uncertain, indecisive, lazy or a dilettante. It simply means you have a lot of ideas. It’s a symptom of a very active brain that makes a lot of connections between a lot of things a lot of the time.
And if you feel your excess of ideas is most often met with bewilderment, remember that only 10-15% of the population qualifies as a Highly Creative Person. So the remaining 85% of the planet does not live inside a 24-hour Idea Factory, you know?
Nevertheless, you probably are experiencing some guilt over all your un-done ideas.
It might comfort you to remember this:
- Not every idea is a good idea.
- Not every idea is a mandate.
- Not every idea requires immediate action.
- Not every idea needs to be done by you.
- There is no expiration date on ideas. It’s never too late.
You are allowed to enjoy your ideas without feeling pressure to implement them. You can think of exploring your ideas as a brain game – a wonderful way to prevent boredom and mentally stretch yourself. (I once knew a fellow who spent six straight weeks working on the ultimate way to commute from one seaside town to another. He finally invented a sort of combination jetpack and kayak. His detailed specs for this unlikely creation are hilarious and sort of mind-boggling. Such fun.)
You don’t need to be precious or overly-protective of your ideas, but you should have a way to capture them. A journal by your bed, index cards in your purse, a voice memo or note on your phone – any way that is easy for you both capture and retrieve them is the best way.
NOTE: don’t pass by the “retrieve” part of idea storage. Make sure you title and date your ideas (maybe even color code?) so you can find them again. Bonus points for having a filing system.
So stop punishing yourself for your lovely, imaginative, innovative, fun-loving flow of ideas, and start celebrating your delightful, and Highly Creative, brain.