Myth: Creative thinking is only for the select few, for the gifted

As we mentioned in our first session, a common myth is that the ability to be creative resides only in the brilliant. The response to this myth is the belief that anyone can be creative.

Myth: People are born creative

Another myth is that creative people are just born creative … i.e. it’s in their genes. Whilst it’s true that some people might have an increased potential for creative talent, creativity and creative thinking is a skill that can be learnt, in the same way we can learn skills to read and write.

Betty Edwards in her best selling book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” makes a similar comparison with drawing. She challenges the often held notion that drawing is sometimes considered a magical ability when she says: “You will soon discover that drawing is a skill that can be learned by every normal person with average eyesight and average eye-hand coordination. If your handwriting is readable, or if you can print legible, you have ample dexterity to draw well.”

Myth: Creative thinking dismisses left brain, convergent thinking

Creative thinking promotes a holistic approach to the thinking process. For example, if you are using creative thinking to generate possible solutions to a workplace problem, you require both the generative and divergent ability associated with creative thinking and the analytical, convergent and critical ability associated with decision making.

Myth: Ideas come neatly packaged

Ideas rarely come neatly packaged and ready to use. Even when you do find an idea with potential it often still needs varying degrees of tweaking and massaging.

Related to this myth is the lure of the shining object syndrome, in which we focus our attention only on those ideas that appear to have immediate value. For truly innovative ideas we often need to push our gaze beyond where we normally look – i.e. beyond the ‘shiny’ idea – and to focus our efforts on what appear to be useless ideas. An easy way to to do is to adopt the language of ‘yes and’ as we discussed in our first session.


Take Action

There are times when you might feel the myths are taking control or you might lack the motivation to start creating. An anecdote to help counter this is to simply take action … to just get started, and to do something … whatever that something is. Momentum is often the best motivator … so give it a push and hang on for the ride.

To help with this I’ve provided a short list of situations where creative thinking might be of value. I’ve mixed these up to encourage you to think of creative thinking as an everyday skill.

  • Where do you think we should have that party?
  • How can I fix a broken household item using only the tools and materials that I currently have available?
  • What kind of theme should we have for the party?
  • How can we make our processes more efficient?
  • How do we source funds for our next community action program?
  • How else can I better manage my time?
  • How else can I secure the resources for this project?
  • What can I cook for dinner that I’ve never tried before?
  • What if I went to the newsagent and read a magazine I’ve never read before to see if it could give me ideas on the project I’ve currently working on?
  • What if I were to contact a few people to get their perspectives on some of the current trends affecting people at the moment?

The above list demonstrates the use of the Quote creative thinking technique which we’ll discuss in more detail in latter sessions – essentially this technique requires you to set a target (in this case 10 ideas) which you then have to meet before you can stop creating. If you are feeling bogged down when needing to generate ideas try setting a target and just start creating till you reach it.


Diving into distinction

Seeking out the distinction between similar items can often help us better understand a focus area. So in this same vein I wanted to share the following perspectives around some of the terms associated with creativity and creative thinking.

Creativity – the simple process of creating something … e.g. a mess in the kitchen is being creative; cooking up something new is being creative; walking a new way to work is being creative; doing something different on the weekend is creative; writing in a different style is being creative.

Creative Thinking – is when we use deliberate techniques to generate ideas – such as those associated with lateral thinking and the related work of Edward de Bono.

Ideation – the process of generating ideas which despite popular opinion is quite easy.

Innovative thinking – the thinking process of generating ideas that adds value to an identified outcome. Along the lines of creative thinking but with an end goal in mind.

Innovation – I thought I’d borrow the words of Jamie Notter who sums innovation up quite nicely.


Till our next post

The following is from Peter Sheahan, an Australian entrepeneur and all round amazingly smart and inspirational person. If you want to learn more about his brilliant insights grab one of more of his books – i.e. ‘Making It Happen’, “Flip”, “Generation Y” or visit his website  (I’d also like to mention the just as brilliant Matt Church ( who was one of Peter Sheahan’s most influential mentors.)“The world is not short of ideas. It’s not. It is short of people who can execute on them. It is short of people who know how to take their aspirations and make a real impact on the world with them.”  Peter Sheahan (2011) – from

What this says to me is that we need more people out there sharing their creative thinking talents and helping to make a positive impact on the planet. Till our next session I wish you happy travels on the journey of generating ideas to make your life easier, more enjoyable or whatever other quest has value for you.


What we’ll include in other posts

In our next post I’ll be sharing more on creative thinking techniques. In the meantime if there is anything else around creativity and creative thinking that I can help you with please get in touch.

John P.