The number one key to innovation

The number one key to innovation

I think a lot of people could write the “100 reasons why I am not creative” book.

Let me give it a try. If you are thinking, what is that go to do with innovation, just read on please.

I’m not going to list you one hundred reasons, but I will mention three:

I am not an artist. I’m not the creative type, de facto, suggesting that creativity is bound and limited to the “artist-type” people and industries.
I wasn’t born that way; “you either got it or you ain’t got it” – implying that you cannot learn it.
I am afraid of failure.

I. I am not the creative type

For years, I had on my desk the nest of a Weaver (a weaver is a bird that takes its name from its nest building – it literally weaves with grass-stems or long and narrow leaves).
I found one in a park next to my home; I placed it on my desk as a reminder that if a weaver has the ingenuity to make such an articulated three-dimensional construction with nothing but its beak, using only grass and leaf stems, then I can also create.

In the Tibetan language, there is no word for creativity. The term that most closely resembles the word creativity is “natural”. Because we are “naturally” creative, like a weaver, we are all born creative.

Reason number one: “I’m not creative”, is therefore not a good enough reason.

II. I wasn’t born that way; creativity can’t be learnt

The Tibetans use the word natural to express creativity because to a human being, creativity is as natural as breathing. Just because we don’t use it, doesn’t mean that we don’t have it. Unfortunately, though, when something is not used, it tends to shrink, like a muscle, or fall into decay, like an abandoned edifice, becoming unusable. When we don’t exercise creativity, it ends up dormant to the degree that we forget it is there.

In 2006 Sir Ken Robinson, an educator from the UK delivered one of the most famous (if not the most famous) TED Talks of all time, one entitled “Do schools kill creativity?”)
He stated that creativity “is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status”. This suggests that creativity, like literacy, can be taught and can be learned. If we invest years into becoming fluent in reading and writing, and consider such skills essential to personal progress, career, and human advancement, then surely we should put an effort into developing a creative skill set? Both literacy and creativity are equally important to personal progress, career, and human advancement. We were all creative in kindergarten, weren’t we? We just lost touch with it and rendered this powerful muscle powerless, making it lose all its elasticity, tone, and mass.

Reason number two: “I wasn’t born that away; creativity can’t be learnt”, turns out to be a false statement – you were born with creativity and can develop it.

III. I am afraid – afraid of failure

Yes, failing is bad, isn’t it? But creativity is actually not about succeeding, at least not immediately. Creativity isn’t about how quickly you do something right; creativity is about persevering through as many failed attempts as it takes, to get it right.

Do you know that the filing cabinets of Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Job, Spike Lee, Bill Gates, Beethoven are full of failed projects? Do you know that the Wright brothers took decades, with more steps back than forwards, before their intuition and creative process saw the light of day?

Reason number three: I am afraid is not a good enough reason not to try; human ingenuity is plagued with first attempts gone bad, and total failures.

The number one key to innovation is the realization that you are creative. So, stop thinking that you are not and “turn over”, recognize the fact that you are a creative being.

You suspected it all along, and I can now confirm it: you are indeed, creative.

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