“Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud. Any of us will put out more and better ideas if our efforts are appreciated.” Alex Osborn, the father of “brainstorming”
How true this is! It comes to us via Harvey Mackay, entrepreneur, educator, and author of several business classics, including Swim with the Sharks. In an online story, “Criticism Challenges Creativity,” he tackled what he calls “vitamin C – Creativity” with gusto:
“More important than drugs and vitamins is having a thick skin and being unfazed by criticism. Even the most unstoppable ideas in history have been criticized. Here are some of the more memorable ones:
“Mr. Bell, please remove that silly toy … There is no room in the market for a telephone.”
“Watches with no hands? You’re crazy.”
“You can’t put a crocodile on a shirt to replace the pocket. Nobody will buy them.”
“I’m sorry, but your ‘Gone with the Wind’ manuscript will have little public appeal.”
Harvey pinpoints four major roadblocks to fostering creativity. In a nutshell:
Excessive rationality: A creative concept often brings together unrelated goals, processes or ideas. give your intuition free rein. “When you stick to conventional techniques,
you cannot expect unconventional results.”
Obsession with size: “A Big Idea is sometimes the sum of a lot of smaller ideas.” Don’t jettison an idea or approach just because it doesn’t seem to be “an instant home run.”
Productivity: You can’t always tell where an idea will lead you, so don’t reject one out of hand if you can’t see it’s value right away. It may take a while to bear fruit.
Fear of (you name it): If you’re hesitant to embrace an idea, pinpoint the exact source: Is it fear of failure, success, criticism? As Harvey says so well, “Creativity always involves an element of risk. You may not be able to make it disappear, but your fear will lose much of its power if you confront it directly.”
It’s worth noting that these four obstacles to creativity may hit us from the outside, or they may be self-imposed. As most of us know all too well, self-criticism can be every bit as damaging as the views of naysayers around us. We can easily torpedo a tender shoot of creativity if we subject it to overthinking or our own fears. The big takeaway here: Be kind to your ideas and they’ll be kind to you. Write on!
* For the story, visit: Harvey Mackay University <firstname.lastname@example.org>