I’ve been told by a number of people that I am a creative person (ok my wife and mom were the ones who said it….just kidding). For those who don’t know me, I have worked for over 12 years planning programs for churches. For many of those years I worked with youth.
If you have ever worked with teens for a non-profit company you know that resources are limited (very limited). However you are still expected to engage them in meaningful ways. You still need to do new things, be relatable, reach and teach while creating a fun environment.
For seven years I was involved in planning youth conferences, summer camps, camp outs, and at the same time produced resources. It was an awesome experience that I would never trade for anything. While doing it and in other roles, people have affirmed me for being innovative. I accept that. There’s no pride in this statement. On the other end, the title of this blog is not some false humility. I don’t discard the compliments. From a teen until now, I have been involved in planning and putting together things and I enjoy the creative process.
What I realize however is that creativity is not only an innate gift that a few possess. We look on at what others have done and most of us believe there is some magic to it. We think they have some secret sauce that is not available to us all.
While some of being creative is an art, I believe there is a science to it as well. I was talking to someone recently who was affirming me on how creative I am. They said “you are so creative…you have all these ideas…I am not creative at all.” I had to remind them of some of the things they have had a hand in coming up with and making happen. They had totally disregarded the work they had done in teaching children in an original manner.
I truly believe everyone is blessed with good ideas. Most of you reading this are much more creative than you give yourself credit for. You come up with new things every day that you don’t acknowledge and probably would downplay if someone pointed them out.
People we admire as being creative are thought to be such because they employ systems that allow them to showcase their ideas. Without systems, your best ideas will never mature to becoming all they can be. By having a system you are able to produce new and innovative things over and over again…and that’s what makes people take notice. One hit wonders need not apply (see Shai 1992)
In this blog I want to give an overview of three of the systems that they use. They may not even recognize it but they do all of them to some extent.
Creative people have a system for gathering ideas, inspiration, fuel for future projects and things that can be turned into new ideas. As we discussed in depth in the last blog (I’m losing it) you need to have a way of capturing and storing new concepts, thoughts, things you see and hear, in a place that you can access them in the future. If you are not gathering, you will not be at your creative best.
Sometimes the order comes where you have something you need to do and the idea comes next…because you are pondering how to solve it. Sometimes its the other way around…you have an idea and the way and place to use it comes next. In either case, you need to have a way of storing, cataloging and retaining good thoughts and concepts that come your way.
Every idea gets better by putting it through a process of thinking over it and having input. I can’t tell you how many times a mediocre idea to begin with became better by writing it down, sleeping on it, considering it and talking it over with people.
If you are always gathering ideas, you need to also be refining them and making them better. As Myron Edmonds said on Episode 21 of my podcast Ideas to Life –
No matter how genius your idea may be you need to have a process of reviewing it, evaluating it and that process should include having others you trust to give you feedback. We will explore this refining process in a future blog.
The third system that every creative person has is a system of Executing. You don’t get credit for simply saying good things, you have to put some sweat behind it and get stuff done. Without action, you only have good theories. But by going to work, you prove that it actually has value in the real world.
So many of us are afraid of failure so we may go through the first two systems of Gathering and Refining but we pause and go backwards when it comes to Executing. Don’t worry, all creatives have similar fears. You need a system to help you push past that fear and make things happen.
Your creativity matters
The reason why you embracing your ingenuity is so important is because it’s a big deal…for so many others around you. I have realized that for myself that the ideas I have are for much more than myself.
I’ve realized I’m not that creative that the processes I use can’t be used by you. What I do is not unattainable, but it is needed. What we all can do with our creative best is important…because the world is depending on us.
“Creativity is a gene, injected into humans by God, for the sole purpose of enhancing the lives of others.” – Chuck Harmony