Creativity

The one thing that distinguishes human beings from any other life form (about which we are aware) is our ability to create. Well, sort of.  A number of years ago, it was proven that using artificial intelligence applications, computers could write coherent fiction and non-fiction, compose original music, create original works of art and engage in seemingly organic two-way conversation.

On 60 Minutes last week, Lesley Stahl interviewed holocaust survivors. Some of them were no longer living.  The interviews were made possible by artificial intelligence tools and years of programming, recording thousands of conversations and 360 degree video capturing.  It is also likely that some of the news stories you’ve read recently were produced using the same technologies.

While at some levels this might be alarming, it isn’t much different than what’s been happening in our world for decades.  More than a hundred years ago, technological advancements made it possible for machines to take over jobs once performed by humans. More recently, I can recall back in the 1980’s television and movies predicting that clerks and tellers would be replaced by computers.  Then came the ATM.  And, low and behold, the first self-checkout made its way into local grocery stores in the early 90’s.

My point is that it’s likely the skills we think are critical today will continue to be outsourced to more efficient, cost-effective technologies.  But even though it is possible for a computer to compose music, prose and other forms of artistic creations, it is still dependent upon independent, original, human intervention to actually occur. For now.  Consider Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.

I am certain that I am not the first to suggest this, but it bears repeating.  The evolution of our society and our life as humans is critically dependent upon embracing our ability to create.  While I believe it is important that we all engage in artistic, aesthetic endeavors, that is not what I am talking about.  The opportunity to create, or be creative, exist everywhere and all the time.  

Here are three examples:

  • Communication – The way we write and speak, the words and phrases we use, and being deliberate about how our communication makes others feel requires creativity.
  • Work – How we handle tasks, set priorities, engage with co-workers–these are just a few examples of ways creativity can be infused into our work.
  • Play – What we choose to read, where we go for a run, trying something new, experimenting with a recipe, the list of ways we can be creative as we engage in recreational activities goes on and on.    

From my own experiences and everything I’ve learned from other people, creativity isn’t something that happens on its own.  We need to purposely seek ways to deviate from our routines and habits. We need to regularly get out of our comfort zone and make a conscious decision to approach every experience differently than the time before.   After all, it’s these things that affect how our brains work and over time, become limitations.

So now what will you do?  

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