How to Be More Creative. Good News: You Already Are.

Kara Powell | May 10, 2012

This week I seem to be surrounded by talk about creativity. It’s been a topic of interest to my 9 year-old, I played a video in my Fuller class about creativity, and then I ran across this Harvard Business Review blog about creativity.

In the past, I’ve thought of myself as a not very creative person, largely because I’m not a very artistic person (you should see me draw, let alone try to read my handwriting). But over the years I’ve realized that I’m more creative than I thought, largely based on an expanding definition I have of creativity. As the blog describes:

The bad news is that if you don’t think you’re creative, our survey data say that you probably are not. But there is good news: You can actually become more creative by changing your mind-set. Anyone can innovate, if they choose to. Disruptive innovators do it by choice, not chance. Their everyday actions swap out an “I’m not creative” mind-set for an “I am creative” one. And then magical (not mystical) things unfold.

According to the various researchers who wrote the HBR blog, there are 5 types of creativity:

Associational thinking: I creatively solve challenging problems by drawing on diverse ideas or knowledge.

Questioning: I often ask questions that challenge others’ fundamental assumptions.

Observing: I get innovative ideas by directly observing how people interact with products and services.

Idea Networking: I regularly talk with a diverse set of people (e.g., from different functions, industries, geographies) to find and refine new business ideas.

Experimenting: I frequently experiment to create new ways of doing things.

I like these various categories of creativity because they remind me of what I think is true about creativity:

1. Much of creativity comes from observing others. We think creativity happens when we’re alone, thinking deep thoughts. Sometimes that’s the case, but often (maybe even more often), creativity happens by seeing what others are doing.

2. Creativity comes often from a team. I’m often my most creative when I’m with my great FYI colleagues, thinking about next steps, dreaming about the future.

3. Creativity takes time. The more time we have (especially with our team), the more creative we can be. Because of that, our FYI team is trying to block off half of every staff meeting for “big picture” issues - the type of issues in which we need to be creative and can’t be squeezed into 7 minute chunks.

4. Not only am I creative, everyone else is too. Every student I know, every adult with whom I interact has their own brand of creativity - God-given creativity. How can I help them tap into it? How can the world benefit from it?

Here’s the good news: you - and everyone else you know - is already more creative than you think.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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