Finding Your Creative Confidence
Have you ever been told you that you weren’t creative?
Maybe it was an art teacher you had in 6th grade who shook her head in pity when she reviewed your work, or a classmate who made fun, or possibly even an old boss who told you, “stick to your day job.” Whatever it was, being told we aren’t creative can scar us for life. It instills the kind of fear that makes us hesitant to do anything outside the box or raise our hand when we have an idea (even a great one!).
A lot of us have stories like that, which is why companies and individuals often assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of those “creative types.” But in their book Creative Confidence, authors David Kelley, IDEO founder and Stanford d.School creator, and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and author of The Art of Innovation, show that each and every one of us is creative.
Myth: Being creative is a fixed trait you are born with, like having brown or blue eyes. It is a rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few.
Fact: We are all creative. Creative Confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience. Creativity comes into play whenever you have the opportunity to generate new ideas, solutions or approaches, and it is one of our most precious resources.
In the world of public relations, we must be creative every day. How do we create news for a client when they have no news? How do we transform something mundane into something interesting? How can we get our clients into the conversations they want to be in and into the headlines of the publications their buyers read?
Here at Zer0 to 5ive, we may not all be painters, musicians, or culinary mavens (although some of us are pretty darned good in the kitchen), but experienced public relations professionals know that what we do is not an exact science—PR is an art form. What works in one situation may not work in another, and what worked last year (frustratingly) may not work this year. It takes practice, trial and error, which is why people outside our field often struggle to understand what we do. Many chalk it up to magic, spin, or just being naturally persuasive. Although a little salesmanship may come into play, being creative in PR is a skill that we all have developed through hard work, many rejections and lots and lots of practice.
The next time you need to “find” your creative confidence, look to these tips offered by Tom and David Kelley in their book:
- Choose creativity: The first step is to decide you want to be creative.
- Think like a traveler: Like a visitor to a foreign land, try turning fresh eyes on your surroundings, no matter how mundane or familiar. Expose yourself to new ideas, experiences and approaches.
- Engage relaxed attention: Flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
- Empathize with your end user: You come up with more innovative ideas when you better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.
- Do observations in the field: If you observe others the same way an anthropologist would, you might discover new opportunities hidden in plain sight.
- Ask questions, starting with why: A series of “why” questions can brush past surface details and get to the heart of the matter. For example, if you ask someone why they are still using a fading technology (think flip phones), the answers might have more to do with psychology than practicality.
- Reframe challenges: Sometimes, the first step toward a great solution is to reframe the question. Starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of the problem.
- Build a creative support network: Creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of.
A little creative confidence can go a long way. You just need to remember that everyone has the innate potential to be creative. If you keep flexing the muscles of your imagination, you can be as creative as Picasso, no matter what your 6th grade teacher said!