Who wants Creativity, Anyway?

Ten Reasons why Creativity does not work Naturally?

Though creativity is natural, it does not work naturally because we learn to put barriers that hinder creativity. We intentionally don’t block the flow of creativity but we have developed a system that invariably puts barriers to cultivate it.

The following are the ten reasons that block our naturally creative juices to flow.

1. The fallacy of “Correct Answer”

We have always been encouraged right from our childhood, to give the correct answer. Neither parents nor teachers want us to be wrong or different. This prompts us to mistakenly have solace in the correct answer. We immediately get uncomfortable if the correct answer is not known to us. We would rather keep quiet rather than make an attempt and be wrong in our answer.

Just give the following answers in the contexts provided below and see the reaction.

At the vegetable market, “I came to count the number of vegetables available here.” At the movie theatre, “I was hoping to meet the superstar in person.” At the gym, “I was trying to practice discus throw using the weights.”

As long as we are forced to be right in every context, our thinking cannot go ‘out of the box’.

2. The failure of “Passing”

We are expected to pass the normalcy test in whatever we do. Be it exams, tests, competitions, events, sports, etc. we are expected not to fail in them. The moment we announce that we have gotten through something successfully, others show their approval. Once the approval comes in, we stop our thinking about that. In essence, our ‘passing’ leads to failure in our creativity.

Just see how well these things are received when you tell them.

“There is more fun failing in the driving test.” “Why should you win a football match?” “I sing in the competition because I love to sing, not because someone listens to me!”

We keep succeeding over and again because of which our creative thinking fails to materialize.

3. The Punishing “Reward”

We are rewarded by society whenever we approximate its expectation. This reward itself becomes our punishment for not letting us have independent thinking. We lose the opportunity to learn to use our skills. We are always trying to see how to correctly project ourselves so that we get the reward.

Observe how ‘things’ become important than persons.

Standing in a queue is good because you get what everyone gets. A ticket puts us in the place where it is right for somebody. A certificate becomes more important than our learning. A license is more crucial than our capability. An identity card or a registered number takes us inside rather than our intelligence.

Society doesn’t understand that it is rewarding us for not being creative.

4. The “Set” Mind

Our expectations about people, groups, and institutions become fixated and definitive. The mind is also set to things, places, ideas, and events. Each tool we use is supposed to have a specific purpose. Our biases, prejudices, and stereotypes are a result of such a set mind.

If the tool is not there, then that job cannot be done!

A parent should perform his or her duties and a relative should behave as expected. A friend must not venture into territories that he or she is not invited to. A teacher’s job is to just teach what is there in the syllabi. A colleague or boss has no business asking personal questions.

Once the mind is fixed in its expectations, creativity has no place there.

5. The “Boundary”

Thinking within the box is always encouraged and desired. Our imagination, our thought process, and our problem solving happen within a fixed parameter. Even by mistake, we will not cross the boundary nor will we allow others to stray away from it. Despite so many brain teasers, we still stick to the traditional way of problem-solving. It is assumed dangerous to stray away from the territory within which all of us feel safe.

Try saying the following to any of your friends or relatives.

“My college is just four miles away and I prefer to go by walk”. “From tomorrow, I will find a new route to my office every day!” “If my boss gives me five deadlines, I will ask for a sixth deadline!”

Creative problems require out of the box solutions because known boundaries are too stringent.

6. The Left Brain “Capture”

Typically, the left brain is said to work logically, systematically, and conventionally. Such thinking is dominant over intuitive thinking and decision making. Seemingly logical answers are readily accepted than unconventional ideas. Logic is good as long as the premises based on such a conclusion is viable. In many instances, the premises are false, and rarely people can see through logical fallacies.

The following statements can tell us how mistakes are made in the conclusions.

“Rich people are always intelligent.” “Poor people are usually untrustworthy.” “Friends are more helpful than relatives.”

The importance of the left brain in creativity cannot be ruled out but its dominance has to be curtailed.

7. “Flying” Low

Suppose you are given a chance to fly using a hand glider. In the initial stages, you will be afraid and you will be wondering if you are risking too much! Once you get hold of it, you will want to let go of your fear and fly as high as possible. Flying high in the sky appears more dangerous than flying low near to the ground. But in reality, flying high is far safer than flying low because there are no barriers up in the sky.

Consider the following statements that we hear more often.

“Why are you bothered about someone else’s problems, when you have your own?” “Build your career in such a way that it is helpful to you.” “You have to tell lies to come up in life!”

When we get grounded in life, we may be unable to take off on creativity.

8. Blocking the “Subconscious”

The majority of our body functions like breathing, heartbeat, blood circulation, etc., happen subconsciously. Just because we are not aware of such things, does not mean that they do not happen! All our internal organs function smoothly, irrespective of whether we will it or not. Similarly, a lot of information processing also happens at a subconscious level. However, we give so much importance to our conscious processing that we largely ignore our subconscious.

Try to recall the following instances where your conscious processing of information is dormant.

You are in a noisy party and amidst all the noises you hear your name being called out. Ten years before you had taken this route and you suddenly remember that the overbridge you are crossing was not there earlier. You can locate someone you know on a railway platform.

Blocking the subconscious also blocks out our creativity.

9. The Corrupt “Fantasy”

We believe in our fantasy and think that the same fantasy is true for everybody! However, fantasies are not reality, and definitely, they are not similar from one person to another. We do not even know how corrupted our fantasy is because there is no yardstick to compare it with. Each of us thinks that our fantasy is more realistic and more applicable than that of others. Someone who does not adhere to our fantastic thoughts is considered an enemy.

Let us look at the following statements.

“I have tried it earlier and I know it doesn’t work.” “Branded companies have better goods and services.” “Scientific researches let us know about the truth.”

Our fantasy also corrupts our creativity because our imagination could be restricted by our limited experience.

10. The “Enough” Syndrome

A lot of people are reluctant to try anything new because of this syndrome. If it is not new, then there is no creativity; so, the word ‘enough’ is an antithesis to creativity. This syndrome is accompanied by symptoms like laziness, tardiness, pessimism, and demotivation. They come out saying, “do not reinvent the wheel.” They seem to have answers to everything and are experts in maintaining the status quo.

We have often heard someone saying these.

“They tried everything.” “We can’t do anything.” “There is only one way to do it. “

Once a particular solution looks okay to us, we stop our creativity without realizing that there could be other solutions.

All ten barriers to creativity are enlisted below.

1. Reason 1: The Fallacy of “Correct Answer

2. Reason 2: The Failure of “Passing

3. Reason 3: The Punishing “Reward

4. Reason 4: The “Set” Mind

5. Reason 5: The “Boundary

6. Reason 6: The Left Brain “Capture

7. Reason 7: “Flying” Low

8. Reason 8: Blocking the “Subconscious

9. Reason 9: The Corrupt “Fantasy

10. Reason 10: The “Enough” Syndrome

This list is not exhaustive but making attempts to know about these ten barriers will go a long way to enable creativity in us. We need an open-minded approach to question things and think differently. Putting an extra effort to analyze the problems and come out with creative solutions is not an unreasonable expectation.

At least, let us not be creative enough to stop creativity from manifesting.

Originally published at https://sujendraprakash.blogspot.com on December 11, 2020.

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Sujendra Prakash

Formerly Professor & HOD of Department of Psychology; Ph.D. (Faculty of Science - Psychology). Over 39 Years of Experience in Teaching, Training, & Consultation