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If you search for creativity on the internet — or talk to different people about it — you will find a wide variety of definitions. So when we talk about discovering a roadmap to get to it, we first need to know what “it” is. For the purpose of this post, “it” (creativity) is a mindset. Something that anyone anywhere can invoke, whether in the office, at home, on the dance floor, or anywhere else. And the roadmap to a creative mindset follows the path of the 4 Ps.
Creativity isn’t limited to the areas of art, music, and dance. Yes, those are obvious places to find it, but the creative mindset is also present in less obvious places like science, technology, and even parenting.
What are the 4 Ps of a Creative Mindset?
It’s hard to access the creative mindset when you are closed off to every perspective except your own. Embrace an open perspective instead.
I like to think of creativity as leaving a door open to outside inspiration. Artists benefit greatly from different perspectives. Think of the writer who is able to create a work of fiction from the perspective of another person or a painter who is able to capture a perspective of mountain tops. It’s powerful.
Now, what if you were to access different perspectives for challenges you face in your daily life?
Because it’s not just for artists. Even a scientist invoking a creative mindset can benefit from an outside perspective to solve a difficult problem. The 2019 Netflix documentary, Creative Brain, shares a great example of a scientist (Michelle Khine, nanotechnologist) who did just this, solving a particular scientific problem by recalling a toy from her childhood.
Defined as “exercising or employing oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation,” kids are complete and total experts in this “P.” (Quite frankly, they are experts in the full creative mindset.) But play is something a lot of adults tend to dismiss as not essential.
I love Greg Mckeown‘s book Essentialism for many reasons. But on the topic of creativity specifically, he has a lovely chapter about play and how it is vital for exploration and growth. Mckeown says:
“Play expands our minds in ways that allow us to explore: to germinate new ideas or see old ideas in a new light.”
Young children learn everything about the world through play, much more than from the words of adults. (As the mother of 2 young boys, I can vouch for that 100%!) Unfortunately, play seems to be conditioned out of us as we get older. Recess in schools across the U.S. is being shortened or cut out of the day completely, and it is not only disheartening, but damaging.
I visualize play as warming up our mind to creative options. Exercising the muscle of imagination and bringing flexibility to the part of our brain that has the potential for boundless possibility.
When I say “Particulars,” I mean the details. I’ll come back to the example of the artist (because when we focus on development in any area, it’s helpful to model after an area where that thing is thriving already.)
A painter pays special attention to the details of a subject. Even if they choose to ignore them altogether, they are usually quite aware of their existence. They make a conscious decision to include those details or not, in order to depict their subject in a specific way.
A creative mindset requires that level of awareness to the particulars, or the details. In order to see creative solutions to a problem, the true core of the problem must be seen. Otherwise, we are just correcting side effects. And they will keep reappearing until the source is found.
As a writer and musician, I’m constantly calling out for creativity — leaving the door open and asking it to please come in. Creativity seems to have a personality of its own. Sometimes it’s the overly friendly girl that likes to hug a lot, and sometimes it’s the extreme introvert that just wants to be left alone. I think of it in this way when I am specifically summoning it for a creative action (like writing a blog post or a song), but the alternative way to approach it is in the way we live our lives. Whether or not we live in the creative mindset.
It takes a wide-open perspective, attention to detail, imagination and play, and plenty of patience. In this way, creativity becomes a lifestyle or a way of being. It’s not ONLY accessible to one type of person.
If you tend to default to: “I am not creative,” here’s your gentle reminder that creativity takes effort. And yes, it is attainable for all.
How do you get into a creative mindset? Share your process in the comments below!