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Creative Inspiration  |   Marketing Books  |   Executives and Leaders

3 Reminders to Build Anyone's Creative Confidence

Ramona Sukhraj

By Ramona Sukhraj

Oct 7, 2016

3 Reminders to Build Anyone's Creative Confidence

Many of us tend to label ourselves as “not being the creative type,” but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Perhaps you’re not a painter, musician, or writer, but that doesn’t mean you don't have the potential to be creative in your own right.

In Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Tom and David Kelley make the strong case for this belief and provide mindset shifts and exercises anyone can use to unlock their hidden ability -- including marketers.

The Kelley brothers are the driving force of one of the world’s leading design consultancies, IDEO. IDEO designed many groundbreaking digital icons and devices like the first Apple mouse, the first Treo digital assistant, and the thumbs up/thumbs down button on the Tivo remote.

David is also the founder of the d. school at Stanford, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, while his brother, Tom, is general manager of IDEO and has been responsible for business development, marketing, human resources, and operations throughout his tenure with the family business.

Creative Confidence is a joint effort based on the brothers’ experience and insights from working in a creative industry and handling all aspects of a building and running a successful business.

A lot of business professionals and marketers shy away from the creative aspects of marketing and branding because they aren’t confident in their creative abilities, but the truth is consistent creativity is something that can be nurtured and improved.

In reality, many of those we deem naturally creative are simply those who aren’t afraid to exercise their ability. So, don’t be scared!

Here are three reminders shared by the Kelleys to help build your creative confidence and get your next big idea brewing.

Reminder #1: Creativity is a Choice

According to the Kelley brothers, “to be more creative, the first step is to decide you want to make it happen.”

Most of us make up our minds that we can’t be creative because we compare ourselves to great innovators and artists like Steve Jobs or The Beatles. We don’t consider that even to these individuals, their greatest ideas took time.

The Kelleys encourage you to not pay much attention to what others are doing and focus on being creative your way, no matter how it turns out or if someone has already done it before. Creativity is relative to each person, so something that’s creative for you might not be to someone else, but it doesn’t matter.

In fact, if you can’t come up with any original ideas yourself, you can always try to improve existing ideas (this is something Austin Kleon calls “stealing like an artist”).

In Creative Confidence, the Kelleys refer to research done by psychologist Robert Sternberg who says creative people tend to:

  • Redefine problems in new ways
  • Take sensible risks and accept failure as part of the process
  • Confront obstacles
  • Tolerate ambiguity
  • Continue to grow intellectually

The process of becoming creative starts with adopting the right mindset, and choosing to think outside-of-the-box.

Reminder #2: Failure is Part of the Creative Process

Becoming more creative takes practice and practice means trial and error. The problem is people don’t like failure so we often avoid creative endeavors altogether.

The Kelley Brothers refer to the famous story of Thomas Edison who said, “the real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be crowded into twenty-four hours.”

This should sound familiar, as ultimately, this is the driving ideal behind many inbound marketing endeavors including conversion rate optimization and growth driven design.

Basically, it’s saying that you need to knock out several drafts before getting a final winning product.

According to the Kelley brothers, the fear of failure is still the single biggest obstacle people face to creative success. What’s their advice?

To not to avoid failure, but to seek failure and treat it as a learning opportunity.

With creative failures, we can make improvements in each new draft and see exactly what changes have a positive impact and which changes lead to more failure.

The quicker we figure out everything that doesn’t work, the sooner we can narrow down what does work.

Once you make this simple mindset shift, it’s easier to proceed in creative pursuits without being locked down by a fear of failure, which is only going to prevent you from learning and improving.

Reminder #3: Action Always Precedes Great Creative Works

To continue on to the Kelley's third reminder and 5 tips for getting started, click "keep reading" below. 

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