How creativity is like running

If I had a block of lego for every time I heard somebody say “I’m not creative” I could build the a full-scale model of the Eiffel Tower. Inside a full-scale model of Paris.

It is almost as if people instinctively divide humanity into two camps. Creative. And not creative.

The fact is that creativity is the ability of all human brains to build new connections out of old concepts. It is this gift that separates us from the rest of life on the planet. And what enables us to subject it to our whim.

We are not talking about the type of creativity that is visual, musical or in any way executional. Yes, some humans are naturally gifted to paint, draw, compose, write or dance. But it is within all of us to reach into the big bag of half-formed hunches and notions and draw out out a new idea.

This is what Ralph Waldo Emerson said on the matter in his 1841 essay Self-Reliance:

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

Creativity is a bit like running.

Male Runners

We can all run. In fact, some say we should all run. But we are not all equally good at it. If I run 5km in anything less than 30 minutes I feel like I have won an ultra-marathon. But the truth is the current world-record for the 5000m event is hovering around 14 minutes.  So should I give up because I would never run 5km in that time? Of course not. Regular running benefits me and my needs and as long as I run according to my pace and needs, and seek improvement according to my scale, I will keep getting tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual benefits from running.

Creativity is the same. Should we all give up just because we think we could never win a literature prize. Or create a gold-winning advertising campaign? Of course not.

In fact, practical creativity can create tremendous value in your personal life and in your work.

But you have to believe you are destined and equipped to do it.

Believe you can run. And you will.

Believe you are creative. And you are.

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