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And history proves it.
44,000 years ago, an individual in Indonesia created the earliest known cave art.
Emperor Vespasian set out to build the Colosseum in 72AD. The Aztecs created a city in 1325. Sandro Botticelli painted The Birth of Venus in the mid 1480s. Martin Luther challenged the thought process of the time in 1517.
These individuals utilized innovative ways of thinking to their advantage and sought out original thought processes. They challenged what they knew, asked questions and pushed the limits. You may call them creative, but the people of the time couldn’t.
This is because the concept of creativity didn’t exist. The word “creative” surfaced in the 17th century when the Polish poet Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski first used the term, according to “The Routledge International Handbook of the Arts and Education.”
Prior to the term, creativity was reserved for the divine, as it related to “creatio ex nihilo,” meaning creation from nothing.
Therefore, if the homo sapiens, Emperor Vespasian, the Aztecs, Botticelli and Luther didn’t know they were emulating creativity, how were they capable of such innovative standards?
The ability to cultivate new ideas and imagine the possibilities came naturally. Since the first cave painting, there has always been an innate tendency to discover the new. So why is our creativity challenged today?
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Being a writer, musician and former dancer, people tend to point out their lack of creativity to me. They explain the reasons why they aren’t creative and how they’ll never be –– it’s just not who they are. But I don’t think an absence of creativity exists. I compare ourselves to the individuals mentioned above and the prior nonexistent concept of creativity to make my point.
Creativity isn’t something that is given depending on job title or status –– we all possess it no matter what. Erwin Raphael McManus’s book, “The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life Into A Work of Art,” explains “we are by nature creative beings…”
Some detest this truth by separating the arts from scholastics, but we can look at the previous historical examples to debunk this false claim.
Creative attributes are clearly seen within Botticelli’s work, but they are also prevalent within Luther’s work. Luther needed to develop a new way of thinking and determine how to best communicate his ideas. He needed to think what no one else was. Whether an artist or a professor, the same natural ability to create is present. How is this any different now?
Photo: “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash
The second half of the creativity battle deals with the absence of failure. McManus says, “We have bought into the lie that creative people never fail and hence failure is proof that we are not creative.”
Perhaps we see creatives as individuals who never fail because we only see the good. We only see the final design, the published essay and the completed structure. We don’t see the scattered pages of mess-ups, the rejection letters and the many edits. I’m sure if we were to travel back in time, we would witness the historical creatives and their failed attempts.
Beyond the obscured view of creativity and failure, we have given failure a negative connotation. We forget it’s failure that allows us to modify ideas and propel us towards greatness. Instead, we see failure as a weight that holds us down, thus choosing to live in the shadow of our own creative potential.
But what if we disregarded the false assumptions about creativity and went back to our roots? What if we remembered that the great artists, architects and professors of the past utilized creativity before it was a coined term?
Maybe then we would see creativity isn’t something reserved for the elect. We would be aware that creativity is an innate attribute we all possess. And most importantly, we would understand creativity is attainable day after day.
McManus says, “Creativity should be an everyday experience. Creativity should be as common as breathing. We breathe, therefore we create.