Creativity: The Missing Link
How our culture dismisses one of the most valuable aspects of the human experience
Numerous creative geniuses have been known to demonstrate what one would call “odd behaviour” according to societal standards (Charles Dickens, Albert Einstein, and Lady Gaga to name a few). Yet, many of them have had tremendous success as entrepreneurs and innovators.
It takes a bold and confident individual who is unmoved by the opinions of others to step forth in their creations with authenticity in the Western world. Why is this?
Our society has little tolerance for adult imaginations to be explored. We live in a world of structure—where everything is on a timeline within a space. Schools progressively offer less and less room for art and music (an article in the BBC reported that there has been an 11% decline in arts teachers since 2010), and companies are more concerned about employees being involved in tasks that are directly relevant to the bottom line. Tasks that are invigorating and expansive for the human imagination (such as brainstorming discussions, improvised mock meetings, meditating in nature and playing games like pictionary in team building situations), which can in turn enhance the bottom line, are often being put on the back-burner.
The business case
In 2014, The Creative Thinking Company, a company that is focused on making corporate environments more creative, posted a blog on the impact of introducing creativity in the workplace on the bottom line. The research demonstrated that creative companies achieved exceptional revenue growth when compared with their corporate peers. Additionally, these companies enjoy a greater market share and competitive leadership.
When it comes to recognition from employees, creative companies are selected as one of the best places to work. This leads to long-term commitment from employees and a more tasteful turnover rate, which saves valuable company dollars in recruitment. Lastly, a survey of various company leaders was provided to determine whether or not leaders believed that creativity was good for business, eighty-two percent believed it was, yet only eleven percent considered themselves to be creative.
At some point, our society has reduced the importance of tickling our brains within unchartered territory and has instead prioritized a robotic lifestyle— leaving many labourers feeling unfulfilled and bored with their jobs, and many students falling victim to the label of “ADHD.” In fact, ADHD is known to occur in 6-12% of the population. Interestingly enough, many of those who are diagnosed with ADHD (or ADD) come up as having “Creative Personality Type” on the Meyers-Briggs Personality test (more specifically, ENTP/ENFP). This personality type thrives on growth and risk taking—they are known to challenge the status quo and want to constantly try new things.
We live in a world that wants to build stability and structure, yet everything in nature, as seen in the seasons and people, occurs in phases where change is the only constant. Perhaps it is time we consider using the laws of nature within the corporate structure, healthcare system, and education system, as creativity is the vehicle for change.
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health released an article on how creativity also has a positive influence on our health. Over 100 studies were assessed, and the findings indicated that creativity in the form of dancing, singing, writing or even striking up a good conversation helped to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that even the act of writing increased the lymphocite cells inside the body which strengthened the immune system. Thus, helping us see that making art contributes to the overall health and happiness within us.
As a result of the structured, stable and logical lifestyle we are encouraged to live, the left side of our brains have become highly active, and the right side of the brains have been less productive. Sommer and Sommer are brothers who prepared a brain-dominance test that had over 160,000 participants answer questions to a survey. It was found that both Americans and Germans were more likely to be left-brain dominant than right brain dominant. This lack of symmetry in the brain functioning inhibits students and people in the work force from capitalizing on their unique genius. Studies that have investigated the brain of Einstein, have found that there was a good balance between activity in the left and right hemisphere of the brain. This is something that teachers and corporations should consider when planning their curriculums and the way in which they organize their workplace structure.
Reprogramming the mind
The North American education system would benefit from an upgraded structure, such as that discussed in Bob Compton’s documentary called “The Finland Phenomenon” which outlines the reasons why Finland’s school system is the top ranked in the world. In short, students are not asked to complete homework, and there are no tests. Instead, they are given time to pursue creative endeavours and sports.
Many prestigious schools and leading businesses are beginning to see the value of creativity and innovation within the scope of their systems. For example, Harvard University, Yale and Stanford have all added courses on creativity to their roster. Furthermore, corporations such as Coca Cola now hire chief innovation officers on their leadership teams.
But there is still much work to be done—as our students are the key innovators of the future, and our workers are in a position to affect positive changes on the globe through creative outside-the-box ideas.
A sound way to bring creativity into the workplace would be to begin stressing the importance of creativity to the staff. Time for brainstorming should be allotted for employees to encourage new developments and insights, and a higher tolerance for risk-taking should be instilled. Leaders would benefit from giving patience to outlandish ideas, that can be transformed in group discussions and put into action with good consideration. Furthermore, offering alternative working hours outside of the norm could assist employees in getting to work during their peak hours when they are in their creative flow.
When it comes to the education system, children and adults alike would activate their full brain potential if they were allotted more time to explore the arts. When a teacher is comfortably modeling creativity, the student is likely to be more explorative in their own creativity as well. It has also been shown that time spent in meditation can help to increase one’s ability to create. Many schools are now introducing meditation into their curriculum. Sometimes all it takes is a field trip to an art gallery, or a cooking adventure in the classroom to get the juices flowing.
The risks of not incorporating creativity into our lives include: a lack of ability to solve problems quickly, a lack of innovation which can lead to boredom and monotony, untapped resources that are not being used to cut unnecessary costs, and many missed opportunities due to an inability to see what options are available. Most importantly, we can make great gains in our businesses, education systems, and in our health if we are given the freedom to explore beyond the conventional.
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