How to Rediscover your Creativity
Can you remember the creativity you possessed during your early childhood?
During the ages of 5 to 9, I have recollections of playing out adventure movies with friends, battling imaginary foes and heroically overcoming the odds to achieve our object. I also recall constructing elaborate battles and storylines with my toys over the multiple terrains of my garden and bedroom.
I’d lose myself in this play. Sometimes my imagination was so vivid I could almost trick myself into actually seeing a demon or bad guy before me.
Over time, I stopped playing these games. They began to feel babyish and I assumed that part of ‘growing up’ was leaving them behind. However, what would have happened if I’d have continued? Might the creativity and imagination I’d been displaying transitioned into writing movies or some other avenue? Who knows.
One thing I do know, though, is that I learned to curb my creativity. School, and the wider system I was becoming exposed to, taught me to think rationally. An important skill, no doubt, but when taken to the extreme, has a tendency to produce robotic individuals useful only for following orders.
Of course, at the time, I had no awareness of what was happening. I just thought that this was how to world worked and I must adapt to it. It was only much later, in my 20s, that I began to question these assumptions. Even then, and after having written a book about Escaping The System, I was sometimes hesitant to allow my creativity free reign. I believed I had to temper it or I might risk making bad decisions that cost me time and money.
But did I?
A week ago I was reading an interesting book called, 21 Days to a Big Idea, written by Bryan Mattimore. He mentions a fascinating study on child creativity and how it actually DECREASES, the older they get.
“There’s a famous, ten year research study in the world of creativity. Futurist and author George Land had five year old kids take the NASA creativity test. He then had them retake the test off and on over a ten-year period. The results were both startling, and depressing. When the kids were five years old, 98% of them tested at the highest level for creativity. At age ten, the percentage of kids who were still testing as creative genius had dropped to 30%. At age 15, the figure was 12%. What could account for such a precipitous drop in creativity? It was clear to the researches that school, and the emphasis on getting the single “right answer,” was to blame.
As educator Neil Postman said, children enter schools as question marks, and leave as periods.”
These findings are fascinating. It’s amazing to think that, at 5 years old, almost all children are creative geniuses. It’s also clear what causes them to lose their powers. The System they are being conditioned to accepts teaches them to become predominantly rational, logical thinkers. Creativity is seem as something without purpose in The Real World. Realistically, it’s not going to pay the bills, so why bother wasting any time indulging it.
I don’t know about you, though, but I’d have rather kept my genius level of creativity. In fact, the more I consider it, the more I do actually rely on my creativity to earn an income. Creative ideas for teaching tennis lessons that kids enjoy, creative ideas for books and blogs posts that people will read and creative ways to help people solve personal problems.
So, my question to you is, have you been neglecting your creativity? Have you shut it down because you falsely believe it serves no purpose?
If this is the case, then why not rekindle it? I believe that it can never be crushed. It’s always waiting to be tapped, unleashing some idea that could lead to adventure or enjoyment.
I’ll leave you with 3 steps to reconnecting.
1. Listen. Your creativity will speak to you in flashes of inspiration. These are usually accompanied by feelings of excitement.
2. Write down. These ideas are so easy to forget, and specific to that moment you’re ‘feeling them’, that you must record what they’re telling you.
3. DON’T OVER ANALYSE. Instead, give your creativity free reign and see where it leads you. Don’t temper it. At worst, you’ll learn a lesson. At best, you could uncover an idea that’ll take your life in an exciting new direction.
(image taken from icecreammanuelaPps photostream on flickr.com)
Originally published at www.screwthesystemnow.com.