I’ve long believed that everyone has creative abilities regardless of their job title. I’ve also long suspected that far too many truly creative people realize this because they’ve had the motivation to exercise their creative skills beaten out of them.
My wife, for example, is one of the most creative people I know, and almost everyone who meets her comments on this. Despite this, she was given a near-failing grade in junior high school art class, effectively killing her interest in pursuing a visual arts career.
I was reminded of this last week when I had the pleasure of hearing Dave Chalk deliver a very inspiring keynote address at the BC AIM DM Day event I was also a speaker at. Dave is also of the opinion that everyone is born with creative abilities, and he shared an amazing tidbit with the audience.
According to Dave, a study was conducted of 10,000 North American families with children. It was revealed that by the time a child has reached the age of 18, they have been discouraged from doing something creative (e.g., drawing, singing, dancing) an average of 150,000 times. That’s one hundred and fifty thousand times, on average, per child!
On the other hand, by the time a child has reached the age of 18, they have been encouraged to do something creative a mere 35 times! Yes, just thirty-five times. That’s it!
Now I don’t know the specific details of the study, and I may in fact be getting the numbers slightly wrong, but what I am sure about is that we, as a society, need to do a better job of encouraging creativity in children and young adults.
The day after I heard Dave speak, I was having dinner at a restaurant with an old friend and his nine year-old daughter. While we waited for our meal to arrive, my friend’s daughter began to fill in the colours in the ‘colouring book’ style children’s paper place mat.
As she was working, I told her how much I admired the precision by which she was colouring within the lines. Recalling the numbers in the study cited by Dave, I then told her that she was welcome to colour outside the lines and, in fact, draw her own lines.
The next time you’re in a similar situation, literally or figuratively, I encourage you to do the same. We don’t need more creative people; we need more people to realize they are creative.