Sorry, Most People Aren’t Naturally Very Creative

Call me an iconoclast, a rabble-rousing, game-changing, Copernicus-level revolutionary if you will (wait you didn’t? Well please do, it makes me feel cool), but the convention among a great many creativity specialists that really everyone is creative is just what we all know it to be. A pile of crap. An alternative version has it that we’re all naturally super creative but horrible old society has stamped it out of us by the time we reach adulthood.

Everyone’s got it the wrong way round. A huge amount of scientific research shows that people intuitively – naturally, automatically, by default – exhibit a number of cognitive biases that serve as barriers to creative thinking (ever heard of functional fixedness?). Even the great creators of history suffer from them most of the time, it’s just they’ve found ways around them that most people haven’t.

It’s a bit like fighting. How good at it are we all naturally? The answer is: terrible. To become a good fighter you need to learn how to fight via a system like boxing or a martial art, learning mechanisms that teach you to override your natural biases, tendencies and even conscious assumptions about how to do it.

The truth is creativity in its highest expression is learned. Usually we’re talking self-taught but it’s quite possible to learn it from someone else.

Does “call me” sign, purses lips / nods / winks.