Is Creativity a Sham?

| By Editorial Staff

We live in a world of numbers.

Businesses make billion-dollar decisions based on data; politicians change their rhetoric depending on poll numbers; students know how well they perform thanks to a 0-100 scale.crayon_idea_by_caen_n-d589xah

If something can’t be measured, many people question whether it actually exists.

And therein lies the problem with creativity. No calculator, formula, or pollster can offer any type of quantitative data that not only proves the existence of creativity, but shows just how influential it is in our world.

If it can’t be proven, it must be a sham, right?

Looks like creativity is no different than a Yeti.

Questioning the origins of, well, everything

When you think about the most creative things out there, what comes to mind? Is it a piece of artwork? A song? A building? Or, perhaps, some type of technological innovation like the iPhone?

No matter what your mind’s eye focuses on, chances are that this example of creativity was either the product of:

  • Incessant trial and error by its maker or
  • Inspired (ahem, borrowed) from some other past creation

Ska, for example, was inspired by reggae, which in turn was inspired by rock ‘n’ roll (and so on). Was the founder of Ska (whomever that may be) creative, or just clever in how he copied someone else’s style?

This line of logic puts into question the entire notion of creativity. Is there really some type of creative force living within us all, that perhaps some folks are more in tune with? Or is creativity just a fancy word that describes persistence, plagiarism, and plain old dumb luck?

Creativity, comparison, and competition: One of these words just doesn’t belong here

It’s hard to imagine people in the Renaissance age questioning the existence of creativity. But that’s what happens when you have folks like da Vinci and Michelangelo creating timeless works of art.

So perhaps creativity once existed, in a time before TVs and the internet. In a world where newness and original thought still existed. In 2016, is it really possible to come up with a brand new idea?

Part of the problem today is our incessant need to pit so-called creative endeavors against one another. We establish award shows and competitions to declare one product as more creative than another.

By doing this, we’re placing a value on creativity, which inevitably leads to rankings. This film was more creative than that film, for example.

But creativity isn’t a comparative attribute, and it’s certainly not even something reserved only for artists. Can you really say that it’s any more creative to increase business profits by 140% than it is to write a suspense novel?

Who’s to say the novel’s more creative? Chances are you’re no more equipped to write a New York Times bestseller as you are to take over a fledgling business and turn it into a success.

But we live our world by definitions and classifications. We demand that we declare one endeavor as more creative, without realizing that this commitment to competition is diluting the very definition of creativity.

No wonder we struggle to understand if creativity truly does exist. It can’t be uploaded to a spreadsheet. Google can’t even place it into one of its analytical reports. And we, as humans, can’t even agree on what is and isn’t creative!

Rather than try to convert an abstract concept into something concrete, what we should be doing is opening ourselves up to those random ideas that run incessantly through our mind. Because the reality is, if you’ve had an idea in your life, then you’ve been creative.

Now, just what you do with that unique idea – what type of commitment you make and inspiration you draw from – that’s what separates the Edisons from your next-door neighbor Eddie.