Many people relate creativity to painting, music or other artistic endeavors. They might have a yard that looks like a page from Home and Gardens, but they don’t think that counts.
The brain is a funny machine. Some people are blessed with good math and logic skills. They approach problems methodically. They use reason, and work through complex problems until they find the answers.
Others come at the problem from a totally different direction and come up with a creative solution to the same problem.
I’m currently reading a book on the recommendation of my friend Dale Short entitled “Where Good Ideas Come From.”
The book covers the history of innovation. It seems that good ideas often come when working with information or technology outside their chosen field.
For example, a doctor working on a problem of infant mortality in Africa found that many of the smaller communities in Africa had access to life-saving incubators that had been donated by philanthropists.
The incubators began saving infants, but a year or so after installation, the incubators started breaking down, which was a problem because there were no local technicians to fix the machines, and there were no spare parts to fix them with.
As the doctor pondered the problem, he realized that transportation in Africa was not a problem. It seems local auto mechanics could easily get parts and keep those old Toyotas purring like kittens.
The answer to the problem hit him. He cobbled an incubator together out of car parts, using headlights to keep the babies warm and other car parts to make the contraption function correctly.
It worked like a charm and cost a fraction of the price tags of commercial incubators. Not only did it work, but also it solved the maintenance problem, as local auto mechanics could get parts and keep it running. The problem was creatively solved.
When it comes to creativity, I’m not an artist, although I have taken some good photographs through the years, but I’m a pretty good musician, and if someone were to ask me if I am creative, I’d say yes.
The reason I can play is that for some reason, my mind recognizes patterns. Whether the pattern is a string of random numbers, jumbled letters or music, I can see a pattern in the noise.
It was this skill that got me a cushy job in the Army and later to land a job with MaBell.
I guess where I'm heading is that I often hear people say they aren't creative, but the truth is, there are many ways to be creative that has nothing to do with painting or music.
You can see art in the way people dress; you can see it in the way people creatively approach their work, in the way they decorate their homes, and a thousand other ways.
There is art all around us. I think it’s best that we not sell ourselves short.