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.”
But both statements aren’t quite accurate.
Talent? My proficiency as an artist came from paying attention to detail and being a perfectionist. 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.
Only, after awhile, I realized something. I am creative so long as I have constraints. Constraints create a problem to be solved. And by attempting to solve intractable problems I could be creative.
This realization made sense of it.
For me, constraints strip away possibility and introduce 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.