In a workshop this week we explored the blocks to creativity and what gets in our way. One particular reflection that resonated with me was about the labels we use.
How we label different members of our teams as the source of creativity. Or how we are seen as the person to generate ideas.
You are the creative one.
You might have experienced this yourself when colleagues look to you for creative ideas and innovations.
I wonder how corrosive this labelling is to the definition of creativity.
When people label others as creative, they absolve themselves from that same endeavour. It becomes a get-out clause, “oh I am not very creative, I don’t have ideas like you…”
It is also a safety net. Creating original ideas that add value, is effortful and taxing. Putting painfully incomplete ideas into the world challenges our identity. We stand vulnerable and exposed. Saying it is the job of someone else, is self-preservation.
When people label others as the creative ones, it not only shifts responsibility, but it also perpetuates the mythical definition of creativity as a dark and mysterious art, in the search of a silver bullet. An endeavour for the few. We need to work hard at shifting this so everyone recognises their creative capacity.
In the spirit of balance, I would also say that labelling others as ‘creative’, sets off a self-fulfilling prophetic sequence of habit. I know that one of my strengths is the generation of ideas. This identity has been borne, in part, from the way others perceive me.
I see the positive benefit of this, so long as it does not absolve everyone else of the responsibility to explore new ideas and strive for originality.