You probably remember a handful people in your elementary, middle, and high school who were known as the “artists.” They were the ones who turned in the beautiful drawings, won the contests, got tapped for t-shirt designs, etc.
I was one of them. With the reputation of an artist came two common refrains. The first? “You’re so talented.” And the second: “You’re so creative.”
Both statements never fit for me.
Talent? My proficiency as an artist came from paying attention to detail, being willing to iterate my way to “right,” and being a perfectionist enough to keep going. It wasn’t talent; it was focused practice.
And I’ve never felt creative. In my mind, to be creative is to be able to imagine new things from nothing, which has never been easy for me.
I realized that I am creative so long as I have constraints.
Constraints create a problem to be solved. And by attempting to solved defined problems, working within limitations, I’d be creative. I liked being creative in this way and (maybe) am even good at it.
This realization made sense of creativity for me.
Constraints swap possibilities with clear challenges to overcome:
The creative person—the artist, the inventor, the entrepreneur—finds a novel way.
Sometimes we’re stuck because we’re not stuck enough.