Creativity is not a talent

by Parvez Sheik Fareed

Everybody seems to be involved in some sort of creative matter: creative this, creative that. Yet most of these so-called creative involvements are hardly creative at all. It’s just a flamboyant description.

Creativity is widely misunderstood in the following ways:

1. Do something that is somehow related to the arts; then you are a creative person

2. The distinction between creative and non-creative industries

I like to write. I think I am good at it. Does this make me a creative? No, it doesn’t. Writing might be a talent of mine. But the mere fact of being talented doesn’t make me a creative.

If being talented equalled being creative, we’d be surrounded by fresh and original stuff. Yet a lot of things we experience are simply average, not to say rubbish.

I’m certain that a lot people would label the finance industry as a non-creative industry per se but label the advertising, fashion or entertainment industry as a creative industry. I think this false classification is made because people literally see or hear certain achievements as opposed to other achievements. You can see the show on TV and you can hear the commercial on the radio. In contrast, you can hardly grasp the hours of advice you gave to your clients and it’s difficult to measure your impact during a project implementation phase.

Take Warren Buffet: finance industry. Take Steve Jobs: computer industry. Both industries are most likely not the preferred choice of topic for a conversation at a wedding reception. Yet Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs are both highly creative minds. Both individuals accomplished a lot by doing things differently compared to others.

So what the fuck is creativity? John Cleese puts it like this in his brilliant speech: creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating. A way of operating resulting in coming up with something fresh and original. The utilisation of your talent in this context is simply the result of creativity being executed. The mere fact of just using your talent doesn’t make you a creative person.

The other day I came across the line “Don’t tell me you’re a comedian, make me laugh”. The same is true for most cases in which the word creative is being used: creative this, creative that.

Pretty fucking uncreative in my opinion.