Creativity? That’s not for me.

January 8, 2014 by
Filed under: Adam Lent, Arts and Society, Education Matters 

In Adam Lent’s recent blog ‘Why is creativity the most important political concept of the 21st century’ he outlines the broadest definition of creativity as being ‘an act that is unique to an individual’s own capacities or vision’.

Why is it then that you’ll frequently hear people recoil in trepidation asserting ‘oh, but I’m not creative’?

Is it fear that they’ll be asked to draw? Or worse still, sing? Is it that someone way back told them they were no good at something and it’s stuck? Is it an excuse to get out of doing something? You’re creative, you do it. Is it an underlying lack of confidence in themselves? Is it a lack of birth right or sense of status?

Lent goes on to explain that creativity is important for four reasons:

  1. It’s good for us
  2. It’s economically more important than ever
  3. It’s the only solution to long term austerity
  4. It is under threat.

Do read his blog for more on this, am oversimplifying here to provide context, with this in mind I’d like to add two different thoughts.

Firstly, and perhaps crucially, does it matter then that people claim not to be creative? And often vociferously so.  Is it because they default to the narrow association of creativity = art?  Who are these people?  And what implications does this have for our growing mission of the ‘power to create’ and the broadest definition of creativity.

Secondly, and perhaps fundamentally, I have to throw into the concept driven mix that creativity is FUN!  Don’t we all want to be more creative?  Personally and professionally?

Creativity enables us to solve problems, to meet people, to feel more human, to relax, to use our hands, to express ourselves, to experiment, to get dirty, to learn a new skill, to be brave, to get something wrong, to have a laugh, to feel fulfilled, to innovate, to feel a sense of achievement, to take a risk, to grow inside, to allow us to think a bit bigger.

But in case you were wondering , think you are not creative? Oh yes you are. It is in us all, it is innate. Embrace it. Follow it. See where you go.


  • Jonathan Schifferes

    As my friend and well-being guru Nic Marks used to say, we have access to creative activities proven to bring us pure joy of self-expression – singing, dancing, drawing/painting. But we are conditioned (at least in the UK) to almost never proclaim that we are good at them, even if we admit to enjoying them. Its socially awkward.

    We wait for others to acknowledge our creativity and our notion of our creative talents is socially constituted. We all have talents, but depend on others to realise, recognise, respond to and rewards these talents.

    This issue is something the Connected Communities team at the RSA has been exploring – in relation to the music world – over the last few months. Our paper and short film, produced in collaboration with the University of Manchester, will be launched in the Spring. We’ll invite people to engage with the issues and submit their responses.

    …Watch this (creative) space!

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  • Georgina Chatfield

    Hi Jonathan,
    The Connected Communities report sounds really interesting, look forward to reading what you find. I’ve become really interested in this idea of how self expression is gradually knocked out of us as we grow older. It becomes socially awkward to sing, to dance or to play an instrument and put yourself out there, unless you are recognised at being good at it already or it is culturally normal to do so – and you are seen to have talent or for this to be part of your identity.
    I’m up for challenging myself in this respect as an enthusiatic ukulele beginner. I may start spontatenously strumming in a corner at work and see what happens….

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