We often hear the success stories of individuals who were able to achieve or create something and succeed at it due to their ways to think creatively.
Whether it’s starting a business, creating a work of art, or just finding a way to accomplish something quicker and more efficiently.
But what does it mean to be creative?
Well in this guide, we’ll be discussing what it means to be creative.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
What is Creativity?
Creativity is defined as the ability to create something new through the use of your imagination, mind, and experiences. This new item can be tangible or intangible.
For example, a new system or process, a new software for people to use, a new car that uses electricity, etc.
The item that is created through creativity is also sometimes referred to as an “innovation.”
Why is it Important to be Creative?
As discussed in our 12 Reasons Why Creativity is Important Guide, creativity can benefit you in life, your relationships, your business endeavors, your career, and your overall happiness.
Creativity is much more than a singular act, it’s a way of living that everyone should strive for.
What Does it Mean to Be Creative?
Creativity can be a very abstract concept.
We understand when we see a creative product such as a new innovation or process, but what does it actually mean to be creative?
Let’s dissect the definition of creativity and look at its individual components.
Creatives are often very imaginative.
What is Imagination?
Imagination is defined as the act of producing or simulating ideas, sensations, or objects in the mind without an input of senses.
You can think back to when you were a child playing with action figures or dolls and imagining them talking with one another or interacting with each other.
How to Be More Imaginative?
If a part of being creative is being imaginative, then how do you become more imaginative?
In order to be imaginative, it’s important that you remain open to ideas, practice mindfulness, take time to explore your passions, and not take things too seriously.
Being imaginative is more of a state of mind.
It’s looking at the world through a set of eyes that reflect these ideas listed above.
With the advent of social media and the digital world, it is easy to get caught up in distractions everywhere we turn.
I look down, I see my cell phone screen on Instagram, I look to my right and I see a TV blasting the current drama in the news, I look to my left and I see my computer screen on a YouTube video.
You can’t force being imaginative, but you can take steps to foster your imaginative side, which will in turn boost your creativity.
Let’s dive into more of them.
Being creative also means being curious.
Continuously questioning the status quo to discover if there are more efficient ways to accomplish a task, produce a product, or offer/deliver a service.
Questioning the status quo can be seen with most new innovations in today’s modern world.
You can see this with startups that questioned the current status quo to come up with a product or service such as AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, etc.
It is through this curiosity that creativity can be fostered.
By throwing your questions into the universe, you will continue to think about it and connections can be eventually made based on existing knowledge and experiences that will allow you to figure out a problem and come up with a creative solution.
Being creative also means being reflective.
Reflecting on past experiences, thinking through what worked and what didn’t, and reflecting on these failures is important for creativity.
As mentioned, creativity is fostered through making connections between past ideas, your mind, and past experiences.
If you have past experiences that were essentially “failures,” but you did not take the time to think through what caused it to “fail,” then you will not be able to take that knowledge and apply it to future endeavours — such as a new creative solution to a new problem.
Self-growth is an important part of creativity, without taking time to reflect on yourself and the world around you, you are limiting your creative potential.
Being creative is also being courageous.
As we’ll touch on later, being creative often means taking the path less traveled by or even a new path altogether.
The difference between courage and bravery is that regarding courage, there is a known presence of fear and failure.
With that being said, creatives know that their idea or solution could end up failing or not be accepted, but they move forward anyhow.
It is this ability to move forward despite the risks that helps define a creative’s mindset.
Despite knowing they could fail, creatives are logical and take calculated risks.
There is a difference between setting out to accomplish a goal or task without any hypothesis and if people question your motives, simply telling them that you are courageous.
Creatives know they could fail, however, their ideas and concepts stand on solid hypotheses.
They often think backwards from the solution using first principles thinking, a process seen all the way back to Aristotle, and gained recent popularity from Elon Musk.
It is essentially taking your concept or idea that seems complex, and breaking it down into its most simple components.
Similar to how we currently just broke down what it means to be creative based on the definition.
What is a Creative Person?
Since we know the definition of creativity. A creative person is one who strives to create something new, either tangible or intangible, by using their imagination, mind, and experiences.
Traits of Creative People
There are common characteristics and traits among creative people.
1. Risk Takers
Creative people are often risk takers.
There is always some risk involved if you set out to create something that is new, especially if it requires resources such as time and money.
2. Embrace Failure
Along with risk, they embrace failure.
They do not see “failure” in a harsh light. Instead they see “failure” as growth and learning.
They know that failure is not failure if they learned something valuable from the experience.
Get knocked down twice, but get up three times is their attitude.
3. Take the Path Less Travelled
Creative people are often willing to be different, and even often embrace being different.
It is in this difference, that they are willing to take the path less travelled to create and explore new concepts and ideas.
Though creativity is a very abstract concept, creative people are often very logical.
Most creative concepts are based on fundamental truths that are then connected to form a new creative idea.
Creative people travel down a new road that they have never seen before, but they can connect the experiences they see on this road with the previous roads they have travelled before — so to speak.
5. Believe in the Work
Creative people don’t focus on the results, they focus on the work.
They understand that creativity is a muse that will only be called upon through putting in the work.
How Can You Identify a Creative Person?
Creative people often follow the definition of being imaginative while also following the traits above of being risk takers, embracing failure, taking the path less traveled, being logical, and believing in the work.
We are all creative at heart.
We can foster and encourage our creative energy by embracing these traits and qualities.
What are Examples of Creativity?
We can see examples of creativity in our modern era with products and services such as AirBnB, Uber, Google, Apple, etc.
All of these products and services are innovations that were created by creative individuals.
Bed & breakfast + modern digital connectivity = AirBnB
Taxi sharing service + modern digital connectivity = Uber
They took existing ideas, used their mind, imagination, and experiences to connect these existing ideas to new concepts to create a new product or service.
While these examples are of startups, there are examples of creativity seen throughout our daily lives.
Whether they are new systems or processes we have implemented in our personal lives, a quicker way we developed to solve a task at work, or a new hairstyle we have adopted.
Creativity is all around us. Continue to be imaginative, curious, and hard-working.
Sometimes you’ll want to take the road less travelled while keeping a foundation of logic.
Embrace failure and know that innovation and creativity does not exist without failure.
“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul” – Deepak Chopra.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on what it means to be creative.
Creativity is like any skill that can be trained, so keep practicing your creativity by using the tips listed above and you will surprise yourself!
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate used to run his own professional photography business called Nate Joaquin Photography but has since focused on the marketing and business aspect of photography although he still enjoys taking photos. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.com.