I just started reading an interesting book that investigates the concept of creativity. Here's a quote from it that struck me:
"In a representative study conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Personality Assessment, 'creative architects,' as distinguished from their less creative peers, exhibited a great incidence of such personality traits as independence, self-confidence, unconventionality, alertness, ready access to unconscious processes, ambition, and commitment to work. However, it is not clear whether people who already exhibit these characteristics become creative or whether, as a result of acknowledged creativity, people come to exhibit such positively tinged traits. Also, individuals who work closely with those deemed creative seem to exhibit a similar profile of traits."
So, what stuck out to me was the last part in particular; how research shows that creativity is not so much something you either are or aren't born with, but something that is inherent in people, and can rise to their surface if 1) a person decides to let it come to the surface and grow it 2) people identify buried creativity in another person and encourage/teach it to come to the surface or 3) a person spends time with someone else who has let their creativity comes to the surface.
What this means is that people are misinformed when they say I'm not creative. The fact is, all people have the capacity to be creative if they choose to engage that part of themselves and explore it within their day to day context. Hence, a second quotation from this book drives a powerful point home:
"The key idea in the psychologist's conception of creativity has been divergent thinking. By standard measures intelligent people are thought of as convergers — people who, given some data or a puzzle, can figure out the correct (or at any rate, the conventional) response. In contrast, when given a stimulus or a puzzle, creative people tend to come up with many different associations, at least some of which are idiosyncratic and possibly unique."
Which is to say, if you are lacking creativity in your life, this has less to do with your wiring (your inherited genetic makeup from mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and so on), and more to do with your relative degree of willingness to diverge from or converge to agreed upon ways of accomplishing things in this world.
That is, you're too afraid to try a new recipe because it might result in a poor tasting meal.
That is, you're settling for the way things have always been done at your office, when you know there's a better way to store data, host a meeting, or launch a new product.
That is, you're too afraid to try a new activity with your family or friends.
That is, you're too content working within the accepted norms of painting or graphic design in your artistic community.
That is, you're too comfortable playing the same chords with the same song structures.
That is, you're too afraid to show up to that class that you've always wanted to take.
The list could go on and on, but the point remains consistent throughout each scenario. Your creative ability (or lack thereof) has a lot do to with your relative willingness to diverge: art happens when people to diverge from standard ways of seeing and being in the world; when people choose to break new trail in established industries, diciplines, and paradigms; when people say, maybe we should try it this way instead.
So if you're finding yourself saying you're not creative, it's probably because you're too convergent and comfortable.
Divergent isn't just a book and a movie. It's also an attitude; a mindset; a way of being in the world; a way of perceiving how to accomplish things.
Maybe you should try being divergent some time.