My mind has returned to the above question this week after getting feedback on my Monday post, “Creatives in Love.” I had noted that some creatives I know choose fellow creatives as mates. But what does it mean to be a “creative”? And if we all have an inherent creativity within us, isn’t everybody a “creative”?
As some readers know, my connection to the creative community is through the arts; covering it as a reporter, researching it as a fellow at a think tank, organizing creatives in an advocacy network. Not surprisingly the artists I crossed paths with, including those I interviewed on my cross-country U.S. road trip, all personified creativity.
There are of course as many expressions of one’s creativity as there are individuals. Einstein was a creative. Bill Gates and Paul Allen are creatives. My wife is a talented writer, but she applies her creativity to the task of maximizing the creative output of teams she manages in a Fortune 500 company.
I channel my creativity through writing, but I can’t speak with any knowledge on the Theory of Relativity, I haven’t the foggiest idea what is involved in a computer operating system, and I wouldn’t begin to know how to motivate and inspire dozens of individuals with differing skill sets and goals.
There are many, many ways to express creativity. And everyone is inherently creative. But please do not try to tell me that everyone is a “creative.”
Being a creative is hard. It means never accepting the status quo. It means constantly working to improve yourself. It means recognizing what talents you have that can be maximized, and finding ways to compensate in areas where your talent may seem deficient. It means encountering skepticism from peers, from friends, from family members. It means facing repeated rejection. It means risking failure, and channeling that failure into new attempts at success.
It means embracing a commitment to creativity.
I’m hardly alone in this opinion that creatives are a subset of the total population. Researchers such as Eric Maisel and Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi have dedicated their lives to understanding the way creatives think and act. Creatives are unorthodox in problem solving. They embrace play and reflection. They observe what others overlook.
They are different.
I’m a pretty positive person. I want everyone to act creatively, even if it means trying feta cheese on a burger instead of the usual cheddar. But let’s give the creativity-committed the respect they deserve, and give them their own term. I like “creative.”
Am I completely off base here?