What exactly IS creativity? It is such a slippery concept that the closest researchers and theoreticians have got really, is widely accepted as being Mel Rhode’s 4P Framework of creativity.
But maybe this is the wrong approach. Maybe it is wiser to ask, what is normal?
Highly creative people are often viewed as exceptional… sometimes as genii, weirdos, not well socialised or just as outright crazy. All the terms that refer to creative thought back this up: Out of the box thinking, Lateral thinking etc. etc.
So, what does it mean to be normal?
Dictionaries tell us that Normal is an adjective (it can also be a noun!) that has several potential meanings:
- conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
- serving to establish a standard.
- approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
- free from any mental disorder; sane.
- free from any infection or other forms of disease or malformation, or experimental therapy or manipulation.
- of natural occurrence.
These definitions shine a light on why people often find intense creativity threatening or disconcerting: it doesn’t conform to a standard, it’s not regular or natural… it is not approximately average and seems to in fact be a mental disorder! Worst, it might not be of natural occurrence!
When counterpointing Creativity with Normal, it’s important to bear in mind that they are not antonyms… but these definitions do help to understand why creativity gets a bad rap.
Creativity is all about breaking the rules, going against the standard and the average in search of the new, novel or different… indeed, doing so is the whole point of creativity.
However, this is an entirely NATURAL phenomenon… this is how species evolve and adapt. Nothing could be more natural. Given enough stimulation, discomfort or distress, we all change. The biodiversity of our planet is living proof of this. The ongoing march of human technology is even more proof.
The complexity of food chains, the diversity of life, the interconnectedness of all life on our planet are all proof that complexity, uncertainty and novelty are all key factors of life… without it, we become ill-prepared for threats, complacent and vulnerable.
Our tendency as a society to be suspicious of creativity is what is un-natural. Our addiction to uniformity, patterns, predictability and uni culture is what is un-natural. And recent… it is a by-product of the industrial revolution… and the follow up is Branding where we all seek to assert our individuality by wearing the same cheap-to-make, expensive-to-buy brands. This is NOT normal.
To be a successful, efficient human being, you need to embrace your true nature, be normal:
Be creative and be wary of the sameness that can lull you to your death!