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  • Writer's pictureRichard Mailman

Creative Thinking

We've all got the raw materials.

Here's a little secret: Being creative isn’t a trait exclusive to artists. We all possess the ability to be creative. In our daily lives, in our work, and in our thinking. I love it when someone says to me, “You know, I’m just not a creative person.” My answer to them is always the same. You may not be exercising your creative genius at the moment, but you certainly have the raw materials. We all do. Think about it, haven’t you ever been forced to come up with an idea for a Halloween costume? Or figure out what to do with leftovers in the fridge? How about this one: Trying to figure out a way to tell someone something without hurting their feelings. Creativity isn't some big mystery, or a trait passed down through genetics. It’s a process. One that’s learned, practiced, and hopefully mastered. It’s divergent thinking. It’s being able to produce something new by way of a different perspective. You may not come up with a costume on par with an Edith Head design, or a dish as sophisticated as Julia Child, and you don’t have to. What you do need is the desire and willingness to look at whatever struggle you’re having in a new and different way. A way that maybe, just maybe, you never considered before.

Creativity is likely to flounder when it's not nurtured. It happens in the workplace, in families where it's not supported, and in society in general when it's not valued. And guess what? We don't have to rely on others to help stifle our creativity. We can handle that task all on our own. One of the best ways to accomplish that is by comparing ourselves to others. And when we're in a comparison mindset it's like trying to run a marathon by cutting your legs off. When we compare ourselves to others, especially others we revere, that's when fear sets in. The fear of being judged, the fear of not living up to some higher standard, and horror of all horrors, the fear of actually succeeding. The serious concern that once we achieve our goal, we'll be incapable of sustaining it or that we may even suffer because of it.

Having started as an actor and throughout the years as a writer, producer and director, my ideas about “creativity” and the “creative process” have definitely evolved. Listening to someone pontificate about what they do, how they do it, and the significance of it all, doesn’t really interest me much. But a powerful conversation about what creativity is, and how we get past the roadblocks preventing us from getting the work done, now that’s a discussion worth having! Tapping into our creative side and figuring out how to get those juices flowing can not only be a fascinating conversation to have, but a necessary one if we’re going to get past whatever it is that's preventing us from getting where it is we need to go. Whether it's work, a relationship, or those unsuspecting little curve balls that life tosses in our path, a little bit of creative thinking, goes a really long way.

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