We Are All Naturally Creative

By Brad Fregger

We all have the creative energy needed to solve the problems we face,
to bring new and exciting ideas and experiences into our lives ...
you can rekindle the creativity that is inherent in yourself and your team.

This essay is part of a special series on Being an Effective Leader. The essays were originally published in Beyneynu, an Austin, Texas based newsletter published by Barry Silverberg.

Brad Fregger is the CEO of Groundbreaking Press.

As our environment changes and as the situation changes, we need to be more creative to be able to come up with novel solutions that can replace the old ways that are no longer working.

For too many the whole concept of creativity is a black hole, a mystery understood by the "priests" but not meant to be understood by the "masses." Many have misconceptions about what creativity is and what makes a person creative.

Some believe that creative energy is a talent that you either are born with or never possess. It is seen as a characteristic that can lead to greatness or frustration, maybe even madness. People who are creative seem to have, like God, the ability to create something out of nothing, to work from the blank canvas or block of marble.

Let's set the record straight: we are all naturally creative.

Creativity is a basic survival characteristic as much a part of who we are as humans as is our opposable thumb. We all have the creative energy needed to solve problems we face and to bring new and exciting ideas and experiences into our lives. It isn't just a few of us that have been blessed in this way.

Our environment can limit, even eliminate, this natural tendency. Our personal ability to filter out those messages that suggest that we aren't creative, the personal determination to meet challenges and overcome obstacles, and to prove to ourselves that this new thing we want to try is worth the effort, is critical. All of this plays a role in how creative we believe we are.

We are all born with the capacity to create. No matter how you feel about your ability to create, you can rekindle the creativity that is inherent in yourself.

How can we rekindle that creative spark? I first experienced the concept of creativity enhancement when I was Director of Training for the Atari Corporation in the early '80's. Atari was the textbook unenlightened company. It had been sold to Warner Communications and was being managed by rug merchant, Ray Kasar, like a commodity and not the creative endeavor it was. This was despite the fact that Warner Communications owned Warner Brothers (movies) and Warner Records and other businesses dependent on the creative energy of talented individuals.

Ray didn't believe that the talent needed to create a new video game was any more critical than the talent needed to make a new rug. He refused to allow video game developers any credit for their creations. The individual who actually developed the game was a piece worker. All video games were created by Atari. As a result, some of the best, most creative programmers had left Atari to start their own company, Activision, at a time when Atari needed every programmer they could use to create the games for which the public was clamoring.

As Director of Training and Development, it was my responsibility to enhance the creativity of the software engineers developing new games. But many of them lacked the creativity needed to accomplish the task.

"NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP)

At about this time I also became interested in a new counseling technology, NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) because I thought that its concepts could be valuable within the training and development profession. But, I was quickly drawn to the original process that had been used to develop the technology.

Richard Bandler was curious about why some counselors helped people after very few visits (five or less), while others had little impact after many visits (weekly for a year or two). It seemed obvious that the effective counselors were doing something different, something that was having significant impact on the patientbut what was it?

So, Bandler interviewed both effective and ineffective counselors to find the answer.. This was a frustrating experience, because they both described their methods in the same way. Worse than that, the descriptions were nebulous, lacking the specifics needed to determine exactly what was making the difference. It seemed obvious to Bandler that neither group knew what they were doing; the ineffective counselors were unconsciously incompetent, while the effective counselors were subconsciously competent.

The Learning Cycle

Let's take a side trip from our current side trip. (Don't worry, all of this leads to the enhancement of one's creative potential.) While it's relatively easy to accept that someone could be unconsciously incompetent and not know what their doing, how could someone be unconsciously competent and not know, at least at some level, why they are being effective? This situation results when one moves from unconsciously incompetent directly to unconsciously competent without going through the learning cycle.

The steps of the learning cycle are:

1) unconsciously incompetent
2) consciously incompetent
3) consciously competent
4) subconsciously competent

For example: go into a first grade class and say, "I need someone to drive my car home. Could any of you help me out?" You'll probably get some hands, usually boys, from those in the class who don't know that they don't know how to drive a car, they're unconsciously incompetent. The ones who don't raise their hands know that they don't know how to drive a car, they're consciously incompetent. A few years later, in driver's education, you'll find a lot of people who are paying attention to everything around them in a very conscious way, they're consciously competent. Finally, you have those of us who drive into the driveway after an hour's drive from work and can't remember anything about the drive home, almost like the car was on auto-pilot, we're unconsciously competent.

The problem is that when you go directly from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent, you don't know what it is you're doing.

 

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