Take a moment and answer the following question before reading the rest of the post:
What is creativity?
The intuitive answer to that question is the following: creativity is the ability to create something out of nothing. That’s so obvious we don’t even question it.
But is that so? What if that definition wasn’t accurate? What if that definition was a limiting belief?
What if your definition of creativity was limiting your creativity?
What is a more accurate and helpful definition of creativity?
Creativity is the ability to discover new relationships between already existing concepts.
Discovering new relationships between already existing concepts is much easier than creating something out of nothing.
You can practice it. You can improve it. You can learn it. It’s not a God-given talent that is bestowed upon a few. Everybody can develop it with some effort.
Creativity in Business
Creativity is not only useful in arts, but also in business. I want to share a story that demonstrates the definition above brilliantly.
Seth Godin explained in an interview how he developed a series of books for 12 years old boys.
He realized that unlike 12 years old girls, 12 years old boys didn’t have the habit of reading books. They were more into playing video games.
So, he licensed the book publishing rights to Nintendo games. He knew that there were professionals who could turn movies into exciting novels in two months.
He hired a 12 years old boy to play these games to the end and he recorded the process. He hired a professional to turn that record into a screen play. Then, he hired another professional to turn that screen play into a novel. And he published that novel as a book.
Old Ingredients, New Product
If you look at this process carefully, Seth Godin didn’t create something from nothing. He just combined already existing concepts.
Video games existed. Novels based on movies existed. 12 years old boys who play video games, but didn’t read books existed. He just combined all of them and created a business out of them.
Optimism, Test Your Ideas First before Discarding Them
My first reaction when I heard the story was that publishing books for a demographic that doesn’t read books was not a good idea. But at the same time, it was an untapped market.
Seth Godin was able to see the potential in that market and tapped into that potential. So, we have to acknowledge him for his optimism as well.
Creativity isn’t creating something out of nothing. That definition is limiting your creativity. Creativity is combining already existing concepts in a way that didn’t exist before. That ability is something you can develop. All it takes is some effort.
Creativity is not only useful in arts, but also in business. When you see an untapped market, ask yourself how you can combine already existing concepts to provide a product or service to that market.
Don’t forget to be optimistic about your idea and test it on a small scale in the market before discarding it.
If you’re looking for an exercise to practice your creativity, here’s one.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.