What Does It Mean to Be Creative?

To be a hot commodity in today's idea marketplace, you have to be "creative." We all claim it, but rarely practice it. 

cre·a·tiv·i·ty, krēāˈtivədē/noun

  1. the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

    synonyms:inventivenessimaginationinnovation, innovative, originality,individuality

We all know creativity as pen on paper, brush on canvas. But true creativity comes from any art. To be "art," it must be new, different, or innovative. That can apply to anything, from baking bread or software engineering. It can be SEO strategy or archery.

To be creative, one must think. Not regurgitate the ideas spit out at us in the media or on the Internet. Stop and see the world around you.  How often do we stay on autopilot for an entire day? We get caught up in answering our emails and organizing our spreadsheets, but that doesn't require us to think. How much of our days are spent breezing through, doing what we're told? 

Creativity implies disruption. Rather than doing what we're told, we ask why? We poke and prod at ideas, our own or others, and infuse them with our personality. To do this, you must step away from the action  to break the process apart and put it together again, better. We must imagine something different to create it.

Pair thought, then, with imagination, and great things happen. Creativity is taking a cardboard box and finding a spaceship or time machine or transmogrifier instead. It's pushing the limits of what can be done and what has been done before to the edge. It's taking control and being the hero of your story.

As we pack our childhood away into attic-bound boxes, we often leave creativity behind.  It's a conscious choice we all make, to stay on autopilot because autopilot is easy. We choose to allow life to wash over us rather than saying "What about this?" because that makes us vulnerable. Find the kid in you that wasn't afraid to ask too many questions and go do something different, something inherently YOU.

To be creative, to make change, you have to be vulnerable. Take the leap. Get in your wagon and crash down the hill--you'll never know what you'll learn along the way.

If you've never had the pleasure of reading Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, it is not too late to start. Find his collection of work here.

Would rather pick up a "grown up" book? Check out my review of Ed Catmull's Creativity, Inc.