At school, jobs, even in social groups, people are often segmented by their creative ability or lack thereof.  All but the lucky few have experienced some sort of judgment regarding a creative project they have undertaken.  These judgments can range from being made fun of in 3rd grade art class for your dragon that looked more like a frying pan to an idea pitched to a client that was immediately disregarded.  These creative judgments may be brushed off but often stick with us and even grow over time.

Once someone’s creative ability has been deemed to be inferior they tend to shy away from making creative contributions in the future and never quite regain their same confidence.  Stanford University Department of Psychology Professor Albert Bandura   has spent a great deal of time working with people with phobias and has helped them cure lifelong phobias in a number of hours in some cases.  Bandura offers his subjects the view that with help, anyone can take their fear and overcome it.

Bandura worked with a number of people who were deathly afraid of snakes and would take his subjects through a series of baby steps to overcome their fears.  He would start by telling each subject that there was a snake in the next room and that the subject would soon be entering in the room to hold the snake.  Of course, most people wanted to run as far away from the snake room as possible but Bandura gave them time to get comfortable with the idea before moving on to more advanced steps.  The next step involved the subject standing in the doorway of the room looking at the snake, again, allowing the subject to get comfortable with before proceeding.  As the subject got closer and closer to the snake they were able to look at animal from a new angle.  As these once fearful subjects stood physically holding the creature, they were making comments about how beautiful the creature was and the grace with which it moved and were no longer afraid.

By turning their series of small successes with the snake into a sense of familiarity, subjects were able to completely overcome their fear.  Subjects found that completing this task created other positive side effects in their lives.  They were less anxious of other issues they were facing and gained a newfound confidence in their lives, including the sense that they could accomplish any goal they set out to achieve.  This was especially true when they applied these small steps towards things that were important in their lives.

The same can be true to reignite a person’s creativity.  By taking baby steps into the creative process, the fear of not being creative can be overcome.  Start slow, by watching someone else in the process, begin to integrate into the process by asking one question per brainstorm session or providing a single idea per meeting.  Each small success will help to drive the fear of not being creative away.  Keeping a positive outlook during these steps works wonders as well as choosing a project or idea that is meaningful.  Being invested often leads to creating more interesting and better ideas and making better decisions over time.

Don’t let the world segment people into creative vs. non-creative people, build your creative confidence and let your ideas run free.

For more information:  http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence.html