Lately, I have been struggling between two seemingly contrasting views of creativity. The first, championed by Sir Ken Robinson, is that creativity is “the process of having original ideas that have value”. The second, as quoted by the late Steve Jobs, is that “Creativity is just connecting things”. So which is? Is creativity original or is it just a new way of presenting things that already exist?
After pondering this dilemma, I am happy to settle with the conclusion that it is in fact a mixture of these things. We are all shaped and molded by what we see around us. Our experiences tint our perceptions and they channel our attention towards and against particular things. The ideas that we come up with may very well be a combination of a range of things that we’ve encountered before. In my own life, I know that many of the cards and drawings I do are often inspired by things that I’ve seen (on pinterest, in nature, created by others). At the same time, many of the thoughts that I have are also (arguably) original and have value.
Now this brings me to another question – who says that an original idea that you have might not be the same as an original idea that someone else has? From two different journeys, two people may very well come to a similar conclusion. Does it devalue either of these individuals’ contributions? No. Both have exercised their creativity and have come up with an original idea.
One of the most beautiful things stemming from creativity is what happens when people collaborate. Using their ideas, their experiences, and the connections that they’ve made, people are able to find innovative solutions, to learn new things, and to push the boundaries of the here and now. This is what we need more of – for people to speak up, unafraid to share their ideas…because you never know where that one idea may lead.