In my earlier years, if I would have been asked about my creative skills, I would have responded with something like, “They are pretty much non-existent!” That was my standard reply; an answer, as I look back, that was based on a false premise.
I was under the impression that creative meant coming up with something new, something that was original, never thought of before. I only knew one person that fit the bill of being that creative. I met her when she was a freshman in high school. During just about any discussion, she could come up with something that was out of the box creative.
However, my perception of what it meant to be creative changed after being exposed to the thinking of Bobb Biehl. He introduced me to the possibility of there being two different kinds of creative: original and adaptive. I knew what he meant by original creative; but adaptive creative was a new concept. Biehl defined adaptive creative as the art of looking at several examples of a given task or project, and from them, create a distinct model that incorporated the best practices of those other examples, something that would end up being better suited for the current circumstances. That was me.
I could immediately think of any number of examples where I had done that very thing, from writing a sermon to formulating new bylaws to creating a different appearance in my back yard. None of my contributions were truly original. However, by incorporating the best of what I had seen, heard, or read, I was able to adapt those examples into something new and different that served well the current reality.
Are you original creative? There are a few around, about 3-5% of the population some say. I’m not in that bunch. If you are more like me, here are a few ideas that help me tap into my adaptive creative side:
- Read more and broader. In other words, read more than one author and more than one genre of books. It will not only give you new information, but also generate fresh ideas of your own.
- Work at being more observant. The Bible tells us that Moses “turned aside to see” the burning bush (Ex. 3:4). Ruth Barton, in her book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, comments: “Learning to pay attention and knowing what to pay attention to is a key discipline for leaders but one that rarely comes naturally to those of us who are barreling through life with our eyes fixed on a goal.”
- Jot down new ideas before you lose them. I couldn’t tell you how many ideas have slipped through my mind before I wrote them down. I now use Evernote, a free and easy to use app for smart phones and computers. New entrees automatically sync with other devices I use.
- Trust your inner voice. God can certainly reveal new ideas that incorporate the best of what you know or have been exposed to.
Don’t give up on being creative. I’m willing to bet on there being much more in you than you may have given yourself credit for.