A Bloomberg Job Skills Report (2015) ranks creative problem solving among the rare skills that companies want the most. Creativity is not just a desired capability in job seekers; it’s imperative at all levels within the organization. Though labelled as ‘rare’, the good news is that creative thinking can be cultivated. The first step is changing our mindset and quelling myths (such as the ones listed here) that might be limiting our thought process.

  • Right brain people are more creative. The quality of creativity is not localized to a single spot or region in the brain. It comprises multiple inter-related processes. The brain actually uses numerous different regions at one go, based on which aspects of creative thinking are called into play. Then, why give right brain all the credit?
  • It’s about IQ. No, it isn’t. Research shows that intelligence alone isn’t enough for nurturing those great ideas. Great thinkers and creative giants had in common a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, willingness to take risks, and sharp awareness of their inner selves, among other qualities. These qualities spanned intellectual, spiritual, moral and emotional aspects of life.
  • Only artists are creative. Think again. Over the years, humankind has made progress in every field. Science, technology, cooking, architecture, fashion… each field sees changes when people find new ways of thinking and doing. That calls for creativity, and in diverse ways. Events such as this Radcliffe workshop underline how breakthrough moments in a discipline are often the result of cross-pollination of ideas from different fields.
  • My work does not need me to be creative. The ability to solve problems and find out-of-the-box solutions is prized in every role, every job. Zingerman’s Roadhouse restaurant in Michigan was concerned about rising food costs. Guess who came up with a cost-containing solution? The dishwasher. He noticed that a lot of fries were getting wasted and suggested that the restaurant give a smaller portion of fries initially, and offer a free refill for those keen on it.

As for the last myth, you might have heard it often. Creativity is about having the ‘aha’ moment. Much as it sounds impressive, the statement is not accurate. The ‘aha’ moment might trigger an idea, but taking that idea to fruition needs persistent work. Einstein and Da Vinci too had to spend long hours breathing life into their ideas. As artist Grayson Perry says: creativity is hard work.  Roll up your sleeves and get ready for it.

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