What is it about that one, simple, single word that makes us bristle? Makes us shudder? Scares the crap out of us?


The word is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” Therein, lies the problem. What is “artistic work?  A piece of music? A delicious meal? Something we hang on the wall? A dance? A poem? All of the above, and nothing else?

But why relegate creativity to the arts? I have known some pretty creative people who probably don’t think of themselves that way.

Well, what about problem solving? A friend of mine is a service technician for a company that sends him to various types of businesses to fix things, systems that break down. Another friend is in sales for computer software. Another works for a large railroad and engineers issues when their systems break down or need updating. I have no doubt that all three approach their work in a creative manner. How could they not? They think out of the box. That’s what a creative does.

We just don’t want to discuss it. It’s kind of like sex….a taboo. We all want to be creative, and we all (well, most of us, anyway….) want to have sex. 

Tell someone you are an artist, and often the response is something like, “I wish I were creative.  I can’t even draw a straight line.” Really? Is that the barometer of creativity?  I think not. We negate our creativity, unless we work in a traditionally “creative” field, in one of the humanities. And actually, have income to prove it. Otherwise, aren’t they wanna-be’s?

Hell no. 

Have you ever heard about the police detective who came up with an original plan to find a criminal? The salesperson who intuitively sells differently to each client? The office manager who develops programs to make a business work more efficiently? The developer of joint replacement devices?  Are they not creative? Of course they are.

Every single item in the world was designed by a human, from a file folder to an automobile.  And was made by a human (even robotic manufacturing had to be designed by a human). Yes, those are functional items. But so are programs developed by educators, law enforcement agencies, and repair personnel.

So, come on. Let’s just admit the fact that the ability to draw a straight line IS NOT the barometer of creativity.  I have been a productive visual artist for over two decades and I still can’t draw a straight line without a ruler.  Never could, never will. And don’t care.

So, please. Own it.

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