I often meet people, especially those in professions that are considered to be very practical and logical, who tell me they are not ‘creative’. These people are using a standard definition of creativity that says you have to be highly imaginative and produce artwork that the masses may admire, though not fully understand.
Yet artists aren’t the only creatives on this great blue sphere. I would argue that many entrepreneurs are highly creative as well.
Personally, I’ve had an odd relationship with my own creativity. As a child, my mother was a wonderful and talented artist and my older sister had her own unique style. As for me, I could never get things to look the way I wanted and was too afraid of making a mistake to stray far from the instructions. I loved to read and was good at math, but I rarely created (writing, drawing, etc.) just for fun.
High school and college helped me explore my creativity more, but again I struggled with the imaginative type of creativity and instead focused on problem-solving with my art. Give me a blank canvas with no instructions and I’d freeze up.
Early in my career, I worked as a graphic and web designer. While I was certainly strong enough to hold my own, I was never the most talented designer. My lack of inspiration for passion projects that fellow designers seemed to have in abundance left me feeling like a fraud.
What I did have in abundance were business ideas.
Everywhere I looked I could see opportunities to serve people in a way that would bring in money but was terrible at committing to an idea for fear that I would get bored over the long-term. So I continued to learn and work and eventually teach, expanding into public relations and marketing, never really feeling like a true creative by that standard definition.
But what I’ve come to realize over these past couple years is that there are many different forms of creativity. Anytime you find a novel solution to a problem you face, you are using creative energy. By these standards, even the most logical of professions can be creative.
Take an accountant, for example. One of my best friends is an accountant and many people consider this work to be dry and boring, yet I would argue that taking unique inputs (different incomes, expenses and requirements) and fitting them into the best boxes to return the most favourable outcome using sets of rules that must be observed can be highly creative work at a certain level. Logical, no doubt. But creative too.
However, not all accountants would be considered creative by my definition. Many will not put the creative energy into finding the best solution, instead just repeating what has been done before.
Ask yourself a question: Which would you rather hire?
Yet, you don’t have to stray too far from what has been done before to be ‘creative’. Many of the most famous pieces of art and music and writing can be viewed as a slight deviant of an existing work. Some of the most innovative companies in the world have taken business practices from one industry and applied it to another.
True creativity lies in taking something that has been done, and doing it in your own unique way.
In entrepreneurship, doing something in your own unique way is imperative to standing out from your competition.
So the question you must ask yourself, regardless of your profession or industry, is whether you are following the blueprint or breaking the mould.
Do you strive to be a creative entrepreneur, or are you happy to play the game by the rules set by those who came before you?