Creativity development: 8 common mistakes

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Life management - Creativity development

Everyone of us is creative to a certain extend. Only the areas where our talents lie are different. If you can’t paint or write music, don’t get desperate – perhaps your creativity may be found in computer engineering, interior design or childcare. In every field of human activity there is a room for creative thought and it can be yours! In most cases though creativity needs to be developed, the door for your talents to show up must be opened. However, there are some common mistakes in creativity development to be aware of:

1. Making creativity the end in itself. Creativity is only a mean, a tool for finding the fastest and the most effective solutions for the life tasks. Therefore to set the goal as “to become a creative person” is equal to defining the skill to raise any number to the third power in one’s head as a life goal. Moreover, the presence of creativity is not a guarantee of any particular creative achievements. There are two kinds of creativity - everyday creativity and high-end creativity: everyday creativity makes it possible to find nonstandard solutions for casual situations. And only high-end creativity can bring one the fame of genius.

2. Studying the definitions of creativity. In order to know what to aspire for would be not bad to find out what creativity actually means, right? Not really. At the present moment there are several hundreds of definitions of creativity. As their authors admit, “the process of understanding of what creativity is requires creative effort itself ». Generally, all these definitions can be divided into several groups: innovational definitions (creativity is a feature which makes possible an invention of a new product), expressive definitions (stressing out the self expression of the creator) and problematic definitions (describing creativity as a problem solving tool), psychoanalytical ones and the rest (i.e., unclear and vague). In other words, every researcher considers as a chief concern those aspects of creativity which seem important to him, or the aspects of which he is short himself.

3. Taking the tests for measuring the degree of creativity on a regular basis. Of course, it’s nice to take tests - especially if they report something pleasant about us. In this case it is good to remember that the scale for measuring creativity does not exist in principle. Tests on creativity are measuring the sum of indices which probably can reflect the degree of your creative development (for example, flexibility of thinking, authenticity of judgments, openness to new experiences, etc). The most respectable creativity tests are created by Guilford, Torrance and Mednick.

4. Thinking that if your creative abilities did not appear in childhood, then they will not appear at all. Good creative abilities in childhood do not guarantee any creative achievements in future. Certainly, serious role in creativity development belongs to the cultural upbringing of a child. And, nevertheless, every ability is not just a built-in faculty in its pure form, but also the result of each and every effort made for its development at any age.

5. Thinking that watching the creative process of someone you consider an authority in the field will add you some creativity. Too big admiration for the authorities makes negative impact on creativity development, same as the dependence on the opinion of others. But if you enlist their support, your creative abilities will only gain.

6. Fantasizing a lot and for long. Whatever creativity means, nevertheless it is always directed towards the solving of various problems - big and small, universal or personal. An empty fantasy, living on the clouds (for example, about how everything will be great when you solve the concrete task) only takes one away from the solution. Moreover, in order to make a practical application of one’s creativity, it is necessary to be able to clearly see the problem and day-dreaming doesn’t help to do it.

7. Thinking that creativity will strengthen under extreme conditions. Many people consciously force themselves (or alternatively - their subordinates) to keep within tough time limits, believing that emergency will incite a creative burst. This approach can be compared to the regular use of stimulants like coffee, energy drinks or cocaine.

Steven Cramer and his colleagues carried out an experiment, during which 180 “blue collars” of big American companies should keep diaries and note daily their impressions of every working day: how they felt, how they remembered the day, what goals they set, etc. The researchers compared people’s condition during the periods of time pressure and quiet days. They found out that the overwhelming majority of the employees experienced some kind of a “hangover” after the days of emergency and overstrain: people were capable only of doing the dull routine work, without any innovations. The researchers came to the conclusion that there are only two factors which impact on an individual under time pressure allows him to express his creativity. First, a person must be concentrated on one task only (he must not be distracted, constantly switching to different small things, etc). Second, to be able to find the creative solution of a problem in the situation of emergency one should clearly see the application of his work – the purpose of the work he does, what exactly depends on the result of his activity. Therefore the employers, who hope to suck out of their stuff valuable ideas by constantly keeping people under the time pressure, most frequently face the unproductiveness of “dull” employees and their burn-outs.

8. Thinking that creativity is a destiny of highly intellectual people only. Originally it was considered that creativity is one of the characteristics of highly developed intellect. But absolutely different things became clear later on. First of all, even the people of low intelligence are capable of showing the signs of creativity, especially if they do not have the time limits and do not participate in a competition. Second, there is always a possibility that a person of a highly developed intellect has no creativity at all. Why it is like this remains unknown.

The epilogue is for those who haven’t yet given up a hope to develop their creativity.

You’ve read the article to the end and yet can’t see what steps you should take in order to become a creative person. Do you know what distinction made Guilford (the author of one of the classical studies on creativity) between the creative people and non creative people? The creative ones search for many answers to one question, while the rest search for the only true answer from all possible answers. Perhaps we can stop here, because counting the factors which influence creativity will take up a lot of space: here is the ability to observe, ability to take risks and the absence of stereotypes, learning ability and ability to empathize, emotional involvement with the task and many others. All of us intuitively understand very well what creativity means. We only have to let it flourish and not to suppress it inside of us.

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