Many people and companies are too concerned about how the economy is performing neglecting their own creativity.
They make decisions ‘for the economy’. They make statements like ‘We need to get more young people interested in engineering to balance the economy‘. ‘We need more creative thinking in business to improve the economy’ or ‘we need to get design back as part of the curriculum’.
Don’t get me wrong. Here at Creatives Hub, we are all for encouraging and inspiring people to be more creative and use creativity in all walks of life. We wouldn’t necessarily disagree with the sentiments behind some of those statements.
The gripe here is the focus on the economy. There are many theories as to how much control we have over the economy. My view is that we have far less control over it that we fool ourselves into believing.
I shouldn’t need to point out the various financial crises in recent years to get across the point that we are simply not in control. The amount of bailing out that is carried out with money we do not have.
Does that mean we should ignore the economy and let it control itself? Well, the purpose of this post is not to come up with or even assess economic theories. Its simply to point out that there are far greater reasons why we should be encouraging creativity. These reasons are more micro than macro. The economy should be so far down the list it should hardly ever come up.
So why is that?
A focus on the economy is a focus on output. Our GDP or Gross Domestic Product. Output in this case is simply not as important as values.
Simon Sinek in his wonderfully inspiring Ted Talk describes it as the WHY? He says ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ He relates the story of the birth of flight. Now, we all know about the Wright brothers, but not many of us know about a gentleman who had more resources than Oliver and Wilbur Wright. He had the finest people working for him and had a college education. However, he ultimately failed in his attempt as he was focused on finance and fame. He was doing it for the money, the prestige.
The Wright brothers on the other hand were in it for the cause. They believed that in learning to fly, mankind would be transformed. More opportunities would be generated and it would essentially help the human race.
You don’t hear the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs of this world talking passionately about making money. And the late Steve Jobs was famous for having a $1 a year salary. No. That is a by-product of their passion to change the world. To create something that did not exist, or at least exist in the way they desired it. They created solutions to problems and the problem was not to boost the economy.
Here are several more important reasons to encourage creativity. And notice this is not about ‘business’ as such. This is about the individual, small groups, families and wider. Some of them are about finance, but again on the micro level. The more the ‘small things’ can be taken care of, the larger things will happen naturally. I’m not saying this is one rule to solve them all. But taking small actions can lead to greater things and the greater things needn’t be the focus. The cause. The why, should to be the focus.
1) To boost your own confidence
Creating something whether it be a product or service, a piece of art, a blog post a film or YouTube video, a website or a cardigan, is good for your health.
The act of creating, being active not passive and seeing a final product – regardless of its state of perfection, is a massive confidence booster. Its something that you and only you can say ‘I did this’. You can then create more. Improve it. Iterate. Sell it. Creating things boosts your confidence and gives you options.
2) To create another income stream
Creating something other people want can provide you with an additional income stream. Yes. I am talking about money, but remember, its fine to want to make money. In fact that very good. But its the passion behind the individual product or service that comes through.
Passionately decorating that spare room so you can rent it out on air-bnb. Writing an ebook that you then sell through Amazon or on your own website.
I hear so many people these days wanting to make an app so they can make lots of money. When I ask them about the idea behind it you quickly get a sense that they aren’t especially passionate about the subject -or in some cases, don’t even know which problem they are solving.
Don’t get me wrong. This does work for a tiny minority of people. But you can quickly tell the passionate ones from those who have see The Apprentice, Dragons Den or any number of similar programs which can sometimes give off false ideas of what it takes to create a product.
3) To help your kids see it as a natural part of life
If you have kids, creating things can be an awesome encouragement to them building this into their daily life. They become accustomed to the idea of actively creating as part of family life -as well as what ever they may do at school (and don’t get me started on creativity in schools. I’ll leave that for another post.) I mean actively creating as opposed to passively consuming, whether it be television or social media.
Encourage them further to create at home and not think this is just the domain of school.
4) To create a community
People need people. Social networks work on this principle. Its not computers talking to computers. Its people communicating with other people via computers or mobile devices. Community is important.
Creating something can help to cultivate a community or simply add to it. Check out the way in which artists and story tellers creating comics add to their vibrant communities.
5) To support others
There’s something awesome about giving things away. Whether its time, a book, a painting or piece of music. Giving something away to support someone else is a great reason to get creative.
There are many people who love nothing more than to create their own cards for birthdays, Christmas or other events. I’m always amazed at the detail, care and attention that goes into to some of these one of a kind art pieces. Especially when personalised for a special person.
I personally offer discounts to charities and carry out some website work pro-bono to support specific charities or creative friends. To see someone else flourish and having played a tiny part in that is also an encouragement to me.
6) To outlast yourself
I mentioned the Wright brothers earlier. They are long since dead and gone. But I still mentioned them. We still talk about them because of what they spent their lives doing.
Creating things can mean you leave a legacy. You are saying that the ideas you have are more important to get out and share with the world than your own life.
It makes me think of the many martyrs that could have lived longer if they had stopped writing and talking about God. They chose to continue with their message as they believed it to be way more important then themselves and would outlive them many, many times over.
Its not about the money.
Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not saying that money isn’t important. I am not saying that we should completely ignore the financial side and just create. You can’t live on ‘love’. This is no ‘poor starving -but passionate artist’ message.
We need to eat. We need to make a living. There is nothing wrong with making a profit. In fact this should be encouraged.
But don’t let that be your driver. Create out of the passion you have to solve a problem. Create knowing that every time you do, your confidence will grow. Create out of the pure passion to contribute something to the world, to help and support others. Create out of the desire to inspire and motivate your family. Create out of the knowledge that you won’t be here for ever. Create things that will outlive you.
So back to the economy. We’re living in austere times. We have to make savings. Some people are struggling to make ends meet. But the economy won’t save us. The economy can’t save us. But creating something can help for all the reasons mentioned above. It is not the be all and end all. Its not one solution for the ills of this world. But it can help. One person at a time.
Over to you
So what things have you been doing to encourage creativity, either in yourself, your family or others?