The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines myth as “an idea or story that many people believe, but which is not true.” There are several thousands of myths about different aspects of human existence that we have come to believe, and this has a way of influencing our thinking and behavior without realizing we are being influenced by them. Myths are powerful; they have a way of influencing how we think and what we believe about certain aspects of our history and existence, and their popularity even sometimes makes them seem truthful. Their popularity is also indicative of their level of acceptance by society. However, we have to be careful to ensure that what we believe is not based on myth but on truth. We must not allow the popularity of a myth to determine what we believe.

There are certain myths of creativity I have identified that have influenced to a great extent the way many people think about the subject of creativity. These myths are many and varied but for the purpose of this article, we shall focus on the five discussed below.

  1. That creativity is about being artistic. Some people think creativity only applies to the arts, music, and entertainment, and this thinking is regrettably deeply ingrained in many people’s minds so much so that they limit creativity to a few fields of human endeavor. However, we have seen creativity expressed in business, science, engineering, technology, architecture, building, automobile, fashion and design, broadcasting, etc. All the great architectural masterpieces of our time are products of highly creative minds. Every great piece of art, painting and literature the world has ever seen were initially mental pictures in the artist’s/writer’s imagination before they were translated into physical realities. We all love beautiful cars, but often we forget those cars are the product of certain peoples’ creative imagination. In fact creativity is one of the key drivers of the twenty-first century automobile industry. Without creativity no business will go far. The world’s most successful organizations have a culture of identifying, hiring and retaining creative employees.

  1. That creativity is a gift bestowed on a select few. Another popular myth of creativity is that some people are endowed with the gift of creativity and others aren’t. But creativity is not so much a gift as it is a human attribute similar to other attributes like imagination, confidence, character, self-discipline, generosity, etc. it’s just one of the many attributes that makes you human. Remember, creativity is the art of turning mental or imaginary things into physical realities. This implies that imagination is simply an expression of creativity. In other words, anyone that is capable of imagining anything is already creative to some extent. What makes the difference is the willingness and ability to translate the object of your imagination into physical reality, and this is where many people fail. That’s because creativity involves two processes, first imagination, and second, translating those imaginary objects into physical reality. If imagination is not a gift, then certainly creativity isn’t either. Creativity is an attribute that needs to be intentionally nurtured and developed. Creativity isn’t for a select few, anyone that is capable of imagining anything is also capable of creating it.

  1. That creative people begin from early in life to exhibit signs of creativity. Some people think they aren’t creative because they didn’t start from early in life to do creative things. But in reality, not all creative people begin from childhood to do creative things. Just because you know a few folks that started from a very young age to exhibit their creative abilities doesn’t mean they are creative and you aren’t. There is no basis for comparing yourself to other people. You are unique, and simply evolving at your own pace. We don’t all start out at the same time. Life happens to different people at different stages of their lives. Some begin early while others begin later in life.

It’s true research shows that many people were a lot more creative in childhood than in adulthood. But even if you did not show signs of creativity as a child, it doesn’t mean you aren’t creative, it probably could be because the environment you grew up in did not allow you to fully express and exhibit your creative potentials. Truth is what most people are today is not what they were created to be. They are simply what they have become as a result of certain influences from their environment and upbringing.

  1. That creativity can’t be developed. Some people believe you either have it or you don’t. And if you don’t have it there’s nothing you can do about it. They believe there’s a limit to how creative they can become. But that’s not true, creativity isn’t fixed for anyone neither is there a lid on your creative capacity. Instead, everyone has the capacity to grow and develop their creative potentials, and the first step to developing your creativity is to believe you’re creative. If you don’t believe you’re creative, how would you ever develop what you don’t believe you have? Developing creativity can be likened to someone who wants to build physical muscle. Just as building muscle requires getting in the gym, developing your creative potential requires two things, first, vivid imagination, and secondly, the willingness and ability to act on your imagination. The more you commit yourself to building your creative muscle the more creative you’ll become.

  1. Not believing they are creative. Some people just don’t consider themselves to be creative. They think of other people as the creative ones, and count themselves out. They forget the saying, “as a man think in his heart so is he.” If you think you are creative then you are, and if you think you aren’t then you aren’t. Your life is the sum of your thoughts. Make a habit of deliberately thinking of yourself as a creative person. There’s absolutely no consequence for doing so. And don’t just stop at thinking, express your thoughts with vivid vocalization. Wake up every morning and say to yourself ‘I am creative, I was born with unique and uncommon creative potentials, I am doing amazing stuff, I have a creative and innovative mind, and out of my mind flows creative ideas, I am making a difference.’ Words are powerful; they are the vehicle with which you drive things into your subconscious. When you keep saying these things to yourself, over time you’ll realize that those very things will gradually become a part of your daily experience.

What other popular myths of creativity do you know? Kindly let me know in the comment section.

Hilton Etakoh is the author of You Are Too Gifted to be Poor.  He covers career, creativity, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.  Twitter: @HiltonEtakoh, Facebook: @Hilton Etakoh, website: http://hiltonetakoh.com/

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