Monday, February 18, 2008

Where we lost our creativity?

A few years ago my son, Parker, walked into the room as I was looking for my wallet. When he asked me what I was doing, I replied, “I’m looking for my wallet.”

“I’m sorry you lost your wallet, Dad.”

“I didn’t lose it, Parker. I had it this morning,” I replied, as I continued to look.

I didn’t have to look up to feel the sense of bewilderment my son was feeling. I’m sure he was thinking, “Dad must be crazy. If he can’t find his wallet, it must be lost.” But like a good son (and a smart one too) he didn’t comment on my apparent craziness.

After a couple more minutes of searching, I said, “Found it, Parker.”

He couldn’t resist any longer: “I thought you hadn’t lost it Dad.”

“I hadn’t lost it Parker. It was just misplaced,” I replied somewhat matter-of-factly.

The wallet wasn’t lost: I knew that I had had it earlier in the day. But it was misplaced because I couldn’t locate it.

Author and speaker Brian Tracy (2007) cites on his blog a research study done with children aged two to four that found that 95 percent of them were rated as “highly creative.” They assessed those same children at age seven and found that only 5 percent still tested as “highly creative.” The number doesn’t get any better as children turn into adults.

It seems that creativity and my wallet have something in common: neither was lost (the wallet was still in my house, and our creativity doesn’t vanish), but both certainly were misplaced (I couldn’t access my wallet, and we can’t always access our creativity either).

What is creativity? In The Social Psychology of Creativity, Teresa Amabile defines creativity in part this way: “A product or response will be judged as creative to the extent that it is both a novel and appropriate, useful, correct or valuable response to the task at hand” (1983, p. 360).

All of us were born creative, and everyone on your team is creative, but like my wallet, their creativity (and yours) might be misplaced. Remarkable leaders know and deeply believe that everyone is creative and use that belief to support, draw out, and help people find their creativity again. When creativity is in play, great new ideas can be applied to the organization’s challenges and opportunities.

This interesting excerpt about creativity is from Remarkable Leadership - Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill At a Time by Kevin Eikenberry.