Finding Your Element: Creativity


What is creativity?

According to Sir Ken Robinson, creativity is applied imagination.

It is important to note, that creativity is not just coming up with ideas or having good imagination.

True creativity is applying imagination.

I meet a lot of people who have remarkable ideas. The true test is not having remarkable ideas, the true test is implementing those ideas.

Unfortunately people spend energy protecting their ideas from being stolen than using that energy to implement their ideas.

Eventually they run out of energy protecting their ideas that they don’t have any energy left to implement those ideas. 

Their ideas then become dreams deferred.

A few months or years later, they see someone implementing a similar idea successfully and they howl “but that is my idea.”

Creativity is finding and creating value in the world. Ideas on their own don’t create value, implementing and perfecting them does.

I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about ten years ago: Implementation is key. You can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win.

It still takes on average ten years to become a success.

The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away.

Don’t overthink your ideas, the more you overthink, you risk manufacturing reasons why your idea will not work.

Don’t look for overnight success.

The media wants overnight successes (so they have someone to tear down later). Ignore them. Ignore the early adopter critics that never have enough to play with. Ignore your investors that want proven tactics and predictable instant results.

Listen instead to your real customers, to your vision and make something for the long haul. Because that is how long it is going to take, guys.

Knowing your element is important, because you are likely to be more creative when you are in your element. But just because you know what your element does not mean you are successful. What makes you successful is when you implement your element.

Be a doer, an implementor.

Do more than you talk.


Finding Your Element: How are you Intelligent?


How are you…. intelligent?

This is a very different question to “Are you intelligent?” Yes or no?

“Are you intelligent?” limits you to a finite yes or no answer. It assumes that you can either be intelligent or not.

“How are you intelligent?” challenges you to seek the intelligence in you. It assumes that you have intelligence that may be different from my intelligence.

We are all intelligent. 

Everyone is a genius.

We are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality, and of physical and sensory awareness.

The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.

The tragedy is we trade our soul for a salary, to fit in and be obedient like everyone.

To be in your element means doing work that truly connects to your soul.

The answer to how are you intelligent will help us get to “what are you good at?”

There is no one set or type of intelligence. There are different types of intelligences.

Some people are intelligent in art, others in mathematics and science, others in writing, others in building and designing.

There is no one set or domain that defines intelligence.

Albert Einstein was a genius, so was Miles Davis, Wangari Maathai,  Lucky Dube, so is Keorapetse Kgositsile, Serena Williams, Zakes Mda and anyone who embraced their element and worked hard to maximise it.

Most people have a narrow view of intelligence, tending to think of it mainly in terms of academic ability. This is why so many people who are smart in other ways end up thinking that they are not smart at all. There are myths surrounding creativity as well.

People are gifted in various disciplines, and it is those gifting that defines how intelligence they are.

If we all agree that we were born with some talent, your talent is what makes you intelligent.

Being a genius is not limited to mathematics wizardry, everyone is a genius in their own areas of gifting.