(Like the prior post, this information was originally posted on another blog of mine last year.)
During my presentation at the 2008 LTUE Symposium at BYU, I began by defining creativity. As part of that I listed what I consider the 10 Basic Traits of Creative People. I came up with these based on the research of numerous academic studies as well as pondering what has worked in my own creative pursuits. Feel free to comment.
Trait #1: Creative people generate many ideas.
A creative person examines a problem from many angles and considers several solutions. The first idea may be the best, but at this point in the creative process, he does not spend much, if any, time judging the effectiveness of the idea. He simply seeks as many solutions as possible. Truly, at this stage, there is no such thing as a bad idea, and arguably there are no good ideas either. There are just options and possibilities.
Trait #2: Creative people recognize and nurture good ideas.
Once a creative person has generated a number of ideas and possible solutions, she then must select the most effective option. She has a knack for selecting a good idea. A good idea solves the problem, or problems, effectively. Some ideas stand out, but require further development. She is able to take a loose concept and give it form, whether it is a painting, story, music, or any other creative endeavor.
Trait #3: Creative people are observant.
A creative person often tries to soak up the world around him. He sees the play of light on an object, notices the chirping of birds, and feels the texture of bricks. He observes with all of his senses, and especially with his intellect. He notices the ways that people, animals, nature, and environment interact. He recognizes relationships, such as the relative size of one object to another or the way a series of music notes working together stimulate a particular emotion. Observation fuels creativity.
Trait #4: Creative people are imaginative.
Albert Einstein said, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Or in other words, a creative person is able to look for ideas and solutions that exist beyond her current inventory of knowledge. She “plays” with her ideas by mixing her observations in new and inventive combinations. She asks, “what if?” and examines the possibilities that such a question inspires.
Trait #5: Creative people are interested in many things.
A creative person likes to try things he has never done before. He likes to learn something new everyday. The broader his inventory of knowledge, the greater his ability to generate ideas and to imagine.
Trait #6: Creative people dare to take risks.
Creativity takes courage. When a creative person exposes her endeavors to the world, she accepts that others will form some sort of judgment regarding her work. However, she recognizes that she cannot let fear suffocate her ideas. Creativity cannot develop when she is afraid to express her ideas.
Trait #7: Creative people are independent thinkers.
While I don’t want to say that a creative person’s ideas must always run counter to established concepts and practices, I do believe a creative person must learn to generate his own independent ideas and form conclusions for himself.
Trait #8: Creative people welcome challenges.
Creativity is fueled by challenges. A creative person loves to put her ideas to the test. The greatest problems require the most creative solutions.
Trait #9: Creative people persevere.
A creative person does not give up easily. He takes the time to nurture his ideas and to bring them to fruition. The best ideas often encounter disappointment and rejection before they achieve success. Think Dr. Suess. Think Thomas Edison. Think of any number of great inventors and artists and what might have happened if they had given up at the first bump in the road.
Trait #10: Creative people value their ideas.
A creative person believes her ideas are worthy of expression. It’s what gives her the impetus to create. She knows her work might not be accepted by everyone, but that it will be valuable to many.