Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Realizing Our Own Creative Potential

When I sat down with my group for our creative group project, I was struck by the overwhelming challenge that lay before us. Not only did we have to discuss arguably one of the most creative and influential individuals in psychology, we had to do it for a class centered on creativity, and therefore inevitably, the presentation itself had to be creative. Sitting around the table we all murmured some variation of the same statement: “ I am really not creative enough to come up with something like this.” To this point, much of the lectures, readings, and other materials in class have focused on what makes individuals creative. Through examining things such as the interaction of intelligence, creativity, and various personality characteristics we try to quantify “big C” creativity. Ultimately we are attempting to determine what makes these individuals different from ourselves.

In searching for the next creative thing to discuss on the blog I cam across a TED talk by David Kelley, which centered on how to build your own creative confidence. Instead of putting creativity on a pedestal, treated as an unachievable ideal, Kelley suggests that the only thing that keeps people from being creative is the lacking confidence to create.

Through the discussion of a childhood friend’s art project that another student criticized, Kelley invokes a scenario to which we are all exposed. Through the criticism of others, whether it be intentional or not, we as individuals opt out of being creative, determining that creativity is for really unique and intelligent individuals. He discusses how everyone from students to CEOs of major companies claim to lack this supposedly innate ability to be creative.

Inspired by Bandura’s incredibly successful model of overcoming phobias centered on self-efficacy, Kelley realized that these ideas could be applied to creativity. Through a series of small steps and training, people can be instilled with the confidence that they are creative individuals. This example is exemplified through the story of a GE employee who realized that almost 80% of children needed to be sedated to be able to cope with having an MRI done in the GE scanner. After going through Kelley’s training in creative confidence, the GE employee re-designed the MRI machine. He painted the machine so that the kids were not scared and also had the operators of the scanner trained by people who had extensive experience with kids. Following these changes only 10% of children needed to be sedated in order to be scanned by the MRI machine. Kelley even quotes one of the children who, following an MRI scan, asked if she could come back again the following day.

Driven by the goal of helping as many people as possible regain their creative confidence that people so often loose. Kelley believes that when people find this confidence, people often change their lives direction toward something that truly makes them happy and ultimately produces more influential and unique ideas. Ultimately, Kelley boils his teachings down to one thing that I think is incredibly important and empowering as we finish the semester looking at eminent creative. It is essential to stop looking at creativity as a god given right and realize your own natural creativity. Through self-efficacy we can all reach a level of creative confidence that, although may not result in us formulating the next big C idea, can provide us with quality ideas while also serving to help us realize and attain our own creative potential.


  1. It's interesting that, as Kelley says, a person's confidence in their creativity can be enhanced similarly to how a person's phobia can be reduced. I think it's quite common for a child's creativity to be put down at a young age, whether it's by a parent, teacher, sibling, or friend. In class we've discussed how each eminent creative's childhood might have influenced their creativity, but we haven't discussed a typical person's childhood influences quite as much. It seems many people believe that they are not creative, and it is easy to see their point when creativity is often associated with such famous characters such as Einstein, Gandhi, etc. It's important for "therapies" like Kelley's to be used more frequently, so that students, parents, teachers, and anybody else can begin to see their creative potential. This might allow the general population to be more productive, confident, and happy with others and themselves.

  2. After reading your post, I have to agree that I was on the same boat as you; that first day when we stepped into class and were asked to talk about something creative I felt completely out of my element. Thinking back to the beginning of the semester, I definitely put creativity on a pedestal, as was mentioned in your post.
    Also, when I found out that I was assigned Martha Graham as the creative to do a presentation on, I did not even know where to begin. Now, after doing the Martha Graham presentation this evening, I have to say what at first seemed impossible, was in fact a great experience. I loved bouncing ideas around with my group members, not to mention the presentation was a fun experience in itself.
    In class we talked about whether we were given the opportunity to be creative in classes outside of the one we are in now, and as far as I am concerned I have not. My classes thus far have consisted of hard deadlines, without leaving much room for creativity. I believe this is what was the dominating factor in my belief that I lacked creativity.
    I hope Kelley’s talk to build creative confidence helps people break out of their shell, and show the world what they are truly capable of.


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