Can creativity be cultivated?

I have this theory: creativity is something we are either born with or not; it can be suppressed but it can't be taught. I thought creative thinking classes are ridiculous and a waste of time and money.

I have always thought of myself as creative. Perhaps it's partly because people often remark, "Oh you are left-handed. Left-handed people are creative." (I'm actually ambidextrous.) Creativity is beyond being "artistic". Although I am recognised by others for my "artistic" talents, I employ creativity frequently for problem-solving in corporate work and my daily life, e.g. project planning especially when things don't go according to plan, improvisation with a different tool when I do not have the one which I need, etc.

I picked up a book, Stimulated!: Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work by Andrew Pek, at the library about how to be creative. Most theories start with a premise or assumption. I was curious whether I could be convinced that I am wrong after reading this book.

I have finished it but I can't conclude for sure whether I am right or wrong. However, I think the author correctly identified the elements, conditions, environment and thought processes necessary for encouraging creativity. I - either consciously or subconsciously - already practise all the things which were mentioned in the book.

Was reading the book of any value to me?

I am encouraged to keep doing what I'm doing but now with greater appreciation of the reasons behind my actions and thoughts.

Do I think creativity can be cultivated?
As mentioned in the book (and I agree with this statement), creativity is linked to confidence and the ability to take risks. If a person has no confidence to express his ideas and is afraid to take the risk of sharing it, his creativity cannot be displayed. Are we all innately creative but our creative abilities are suppressed, to different, extents by our lack of confidence and fear of failure?

How do we cultivate creativity?
We must build our confidence by discovering what skills we need and acquiring them. For risk assessment, we must feel in our hearts our creative impulses and ponder in our minds the practicality of pursuing them. (Note that I am talking about pursuits here because creativity that is kept only in your mind is useless.) We need to understand the importance of gathering resources in order to be successful in our pursuits.

My conclusion

Creativity can be cultivated if confidence can be built and if risk-aversion can be reduced. This leads me to the next question of whether confidence and risk-aversion can indeed be changed.

Related post:
[Laziness: mother of all innovation]

Update: Check out this website That's what I call creative!


Anonymous said...

Creativity like intelligence is something you are born with. Nurture can only improve it a little but not by much.

Like LKY said about intelligence something to this effect..if you are born a 1000cc car, your maximum capacity is still 1000cc. You can boost its output, but there is still a max imposed by the capacity.

Same with creativity I believe. You can try to boost its output by various means, but there is a limit to how much creativity you can generate with the inherent talent you are born with.

But this does not mean that one should be fatalistic about it. On the contrary, we be the best we can, do the best we can with whatever we are given.

curious cat

Pepper said...

Your brain works. There is no limit (capacity) to learn.No human brain would say I: I am full !!!!

Conclusion is : No body is stupid unless his brain keep thinking he/she is stupid.
Strongly agree with Kym : Creativity can be cultivated, and no doubt at all about one's confidence and risk-aversion can be changed.

Yu-Kym said...

Just as we do not use 100% of our brain power, most of us have not achieved the full potential that we are capable of!

Anonymous said...

Eg When you have done your very best throughout your many years as a student studying, sitting for exams and passing or failing them with the various grades

And/Or ....

you have done what u believe to be your best throughout your many years on your job(s) solving problems at work with your share of successes and failures... resulting in promotions, demotions, resigning or being sacked...and the same pattern of good and bad news occur year in and year out...

you have reached your 100%!

The "potential" that one thinks he/she can still reach is an illusion! One's brain is literally "full". Limit reached.

Theres likely no more you can achieve unless something else sparked off a rejuvenation of your brain! Which happens but these are exceptions. lol

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

curious cat, I might have done my best
- given the constraints, and
- after weighing the potential benefits versus the effort.

E.g. If I studied 1 more hour, it could only mean a difference between getting 95% and possibly 100% - which is still an A grade therefore I'd rather go to sleep.

As for work, I'm sure there are many people out there who choose not to think creatively at work because they are not rewarded but instead penalised for it, e.g. "That's a great idea! Why don't YOU do it?"

Anonymous said...


those are out of context, non-relevant or different variables u throw into the equation.

You might as well say "Im actually very intelligent and with Hi IQ u know... and i am far from reaching my full potential and intelligence limit because i deliberately flunked my exams and Mensa IQ test everytime, and deliberately cocked up everyting i do at work!"

In anycase ppl who think and behave like those two examples you gave are definitely not "intelligent"!

Truly intelligent ppl dont behave in such negative manner.

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

The ability to display creativity is restricted when we think about risks and the possible outcome of displaying it. This is experienced in many workplaces. Employees would rather not suggest anything.

It is also true that people might score poorly in examinations because of certain psychological blockage. Some students score very well for tests and assignments but they black out during examinations. The environment and state of mind affect such measures of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

I dont disagree but I think we are going off-tangent. Timely to rest my case. keke

curioius cat