How Do We Become Creative?

I’ve been thinking about creativity all day today.  I had a hard time coming up with a title for this blog.

Should I have called it “Creative People” and listed the accomplishments of the most amazing people I could find, or should I have said  “On Being Creative”….kind of existential…. or should I have asked “What is Creativity?” and gone into a lengthy dictionary style definition?

In the end, I decided to ask, “How Do We Become Creative?”  Are we born creative?  Is it something we can learn?  Certainly I think we can point to a genetic origin.  If we didn’t have creative ways of coping with our environment, we might not have survived as a species.  But as we evolved, we learned from trial and error, and creativity became a learned activity. 

You might wonder why I’m concerned with creativity.  I should hope you are too.  If it were not for creative minds, we would have no progress, no invention, no future to look forward to.

So, how do you become creative?  Start by observing everything….from the commonplace to the exotic.  Ask yourself where the idea came from.  Take the time to trace it’s origin.

As you look at items or concepts, you might ask, “Was it’s purpose to solve a problem?”   “Was it developed to entertain?”  Might it be used in a different way than originally intended?  Look around the room right now.  As you look at each item, don’t you wonder why someone made it?  Did it exist 100 years ago?  Will it exist 100 years from now?  What might replace it 1000 years from now?  Let your mind explore the possibilities!

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but as we think about creative ideas, do you keep some ideas and toss others based on a cost/benefit analysis?  If we think too hard, we may have never had skateboards or hula-hoops!  Some things just need to be created….we’ll think about the details later!

My challenge for you today is to look at everything with a creative eye.  From processes and routines, to products you use 24/7…. and give yourself permission to consider alternatives, different combinations, or a totally new idea.  Ask “Why”….or ask “Why Not?” 

Exercise your creativity….the future depends on it!


Musings from Tom Burns, Seller of things essential to life as we know it….



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