One surprising trend that emerged during lockdown was the explosion of creativity. From sourdough to Tik Tok, journalling to scrapbooking, many of us used the extra time to express ourselves creativity.
This is important because the need for creativity at work has been accelerating over the last decade. And it’s essential we demonstrate the value of creativity to our kids. The world they’ll inherit will look vastly different from ours but we know that creative thinking is an essential future skill.
Research tells us, however, that 75 per cent of adults don’t feel as though they are living up to their creative potential. And we’ve witnessing a sharp decline in the creativity of our kids due to both screen time and the increasing demands of the modern world.
In my work with large and small organisations, I’ve found that most people have roughly the same capacity for creativity.
In my work with large and small organisations, I’ve found that most people have roughly the same capacity for creativity but their creative output is largely driven by the story they tell themselves about their own creative potential. If we’re to remain creative post-COVID and show our kids the value of creativity, first we need to identify our own beliefs about it.
Here are the five most common types of creatives:
1. Never Was Creative
Despite the science or their own experience, these people will always say, ‘I haven’t got a creative bone in my body.’ Perhaps their parents labelled a sibling ‘the creative one’. Or they grew up in an environment that didn’t allow or encourage self expression. As a result, they chose a career or lifestyle that reflects and reaffirms this belief and they rob themselves of ever enjoying the magic of creativity.
2. Used to be Creative
The Used To Be creatives all share a scar. At one point in their childhood, they were laughed at, ridiculed or reprimanded for expressing themselves. Cut so deep, in a moment of raw vulnerability, that it became too painful to do anything like it again. Or perhaps they were told that creativity wouldn’t lead them anywhere. That they should ‘get a real job’ and as a result, they put away the paintbrush for good.
3. Kinda Sorta Creative
This bunch of creatives are fence sitters. They might’ve played an instrument in school, love to read fiction or enjoy a pottery class once a year. But they don’t proactively seek opportunities to express their creativity. They’re happy to just go along with the group or do what others suggest. There’s a spark in there somewhere but they’re waiting for someone else to fan the flames.
4. Love To Be Creative
These folks are all about creativity. They love it, value it and seek to bring more of it to their work and life, but they’re trying to do everything else too. And by making creativity such a significant activity they start believing they need the perfect conditions to engage in it. Because it’s something you do, not something you are, it can easily get bumped down the to-do list as more urgent priorities pop up.
5. Everyday Creative
For these fabulous folks, creativity is not a talent, it’s a habit. It’s not exclusive to any particular person, career or task. It’s a way of seeing and being in the world. It’s enjoying the discovery of who you are and what you’re capable of. Every single day. They recognise that creativity can and must be applied anywhere, anytime. From what you wear to what your cook, from how you write an email or renovate the spare room.
So where do you sit on this list? Where do you want to be? And more importantly, where do you want your kids to be?
Try these simple, practical tips to keep your kids creative, everyday:
1. Make room for space. We’re all in a battle against the clock, but we need to time our kids time to be creative. Try scheduling an hour a day or a half day a week for nothing!
2. Switch the screens for sounds. Music can transport us to other worlds. Try playing more music without lyrics in the background of daily life. Use it as a tool to create atmospheres and spark imaginations.
3. Celebrate process over outcome. Like any behavioural trait we want more of, we need to repeatedly acknowledge it when we see it. But aside from putting their finger-painting on the fridge, we should always ask them how much they enjoyed the process of creating. This way they won’t try to make the ‘best’ painting, they fall in love ‘with’ painting.
4. Monkey see, monkey do. Beyond all the fun activities, and glowing acknowledgement, the most powerful thing you can do to keep your kids creative is to role-model it. To get down on the floor, dip your hands in the paint, and make the time to create with them.
Mykel Dixon is a musician by trade, gypsy by nature and prolific anti-perfectionist moonlighting as an award-winning speaker, creative leadership advisor and event curator. He works with leaders and teams of fortune 500 and ASX 200 listed companies to unleash breakthrough creativity. His latest book Everyday Creative: A Dangerous Guide To Making Magic At Work is now available.