5 myths about creativity, busted

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5 myths about creativity, busted

Creativity is 2019’s most in-demand soft skill, according to an analysis by LinkedIn. So it’s no surprise that “Creativity Bootcamp” became one of the most popular LinkedIn Learning courses this year. In fact, in January alone, 77,182 students enrolled in the course.

So I decided to see what all the hype was about and joined 196,434 other “Creativity Bootcamp” students to learn how to become more creative. After all, creativity is a skill—not a trait—that can be developed with practice, says Stefan Mumaw, creative director at First Person and the course’s instructor.

Along with the misconception that creativity is a trait possessed by a select few (Myth #1), here are four other creativity myths dispelled by Mumaw in the course:

Myth #2: Creative thinking requires ample amounts of time

People often express that they would like to think more creatively, but they simply don’t have the time, says Mumaw. But creative thinking doesn’t require ample amounts of time; it requires the motivation to get started, he explains.

For instance, because most leaders are serial problem solvers, they might think, “Why would I spend extra time solving this problem when we already know a solution?”

But coming up with new ideas or new methods of solving a problem can be achieved in as few as 60 seconds, and the resulting solutions are often more relevant and more novel than the solutions that leaders usually apply, says Mumaw.

Myth #3: When you hit a creative wall, you’ve run out of ideas

Though innovative ideas can come in as few as 60 seconds, sometimes creativity does take time, acknowledges Mumaw. For instance, when we enter a creative pursuit, we may have several ideas that surface in the first few minutes, but then the quantity (and quality) of our ideas begin to wane.

But when it feels like your team has run out of ideas, keep thinking, advises Mumaw.

Why? Once you’ve fleshed out the most obvious solutions, someone will inevitably “say something stupid” and open the door to new ideas that the team hadn’t considered or felt relevant to the problem at hand, explains Mumaw. You’ll then have more ideas to pull from, most of which will be more creative than the ideas you generated at the beginning of the brainstorm session. “It’s a process: If we want more novel ideas, we have to give it time to play out,” says Mumaw.

Myth #4: Restrictions suppress creativity

For most people, creativity is synonymous with “thinking outside the box.” But to come up with novel ideas, you have to “want the box,” says Mumaw. “In order for us to be creative, most of the time we think we need freedom: ‘I need less restrictions. I need more budget. I need more time. I need more assets,'” he suggests. “But the reality is, it’s the restrictions that are making you creative. The more restrictive the environment, the more creative the opportunity.”

Take storytelling, for example. If you are provided with the beginning and the end of a story and you are asked to write the middle to connect the two, chances are, your story will be more creative than if you started with a blank page, suggests Mumaw.

Similarly, creativity flows best when we accept the environment or scenario we are thrown into— restrictions and all. Mumaw recommends approaching a situation with the mentality, “Yes, and…” to recognize both the reality of the situation and the value we are able to add with our ideas.

Myth #5: Not all ideas have value

Even if your team is chock-full of creative ideas, they might not share these ideas with one another during a brainstorm session. Why? People generally don’t want to speak up if they fear their idea is irrelevant or lacks value, says Mumaw.

So to come up with creative solutions, you have to “can the critic,” suggests Mumaw. This includes both the outer critic, the person during the brainstorm session who shuts down every idea, and the inner critic, the part of you that doesn’t want to offer your idea (LinkedIn Learning “Creativity Bootcamp,” accessed 6/14).

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