Creative Left Brains
  • Jul 03, 2017

Creative Left Brains

Have you ever met someone who practiced his science like it is an art; an engineer who draws his technical diagrams with the finesse on an artist? In a world where we are quick to classify people as being largely left brained or right brained, creative left brains prove the point that it is possible to be creative at whatever you do.

Creativity, you see, is not the exclusive reserve of a select few. Yes, some people show signs of creativity from a very early age but the good news is that creativity can be taught and it can be learned.

So, don’t be boxed into believing that you must be one or the other when it comes to how your brain functions and what you are likely to be good at.

In fact, research has shown that most people are equally active on both the left and right sides of their brain and so people should not allow themselves to be limited in their view of themselves, their capabilities, and potentials.

If we can all be creative, what are those important skills we need to imbibe and practice regularly? One powerful concept in creativity is one postulated by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile which teaches that to be creative you need the interplay of three things in your life: Domain Skills, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity Skills.

Domain Skills check your level of expertise in the area where you want to be creative. For example, it is easier for a neurosurgeon to create a better way to conduct brain surgeries than for a carpenter to do the same thing. The carpenter will find it easier to be creative in his own area of expertise, the area where his domain skills are well rooted, carpentry.

With established domain skills, the next thing required for creativity is intrinsic motivation. How motivated are you to add value in your area of endeavor? Intrinsic motivation measures your passion for a thing beyond money, that is, how much you love doing what you do and your willingness to do it even for free. Intrinsic motivation is connected to the 3 Ps of purpose (your reason for living), passion (what makes you tick), and play (what you enjoy doing). When you consider something as being connected to your purpose, and you are driven to get better at it, and you love doing it, then the chance of your being creative at that thing is very high. Think about people who are the world’s best at anything and you are very likely to find these 3Ps at work in their lives.

Creativity skills form the third and equally important component of the three requirements for creativity. The skills for creativity will test your ability to diverge. Divergence is coming up with as many options as possible for any one thing such that you task yourself to go beyond what is familiar and delve into the unfamiliar where you can tap into novel thoughts that would readily not come to your mind if you only stayed within the bounds of what is familiar to you. After diverging, creativity also requires you to converge. Convergence is being able to review the options generated in the process of diverging with the aim of selecting novel ideas you can implement to create value.

Also, creativity skills include the ability to apply the steps in the creative problem-solving process where you CLARIFY the problem, IDEATE to generate tentative solutions to the problem (diverge),

DEVELOP those ideas you consider novel and valuable (converge), and then IMPLEMENT the idea(s) you have developed. It is important to note that without implementing your ideas you cannot be considered creative. That is, just having an idea without doing something about it is not creative at all.

Therefore, whether you have been classified as left brained or right brained you can become creative or get better at being creative by deepening your domain skills, ramping up your intrinsic motivation, and honing your creativity skills.

Nigeria, and indeed Africa, needs more creative people who will rise to the occasion and tackle the plethora of challenges bedevilling the continent and really do something strategic, something sustainable, and, something creative about these challenges.


Ukot Umezinne is the Chief Executive Officer of the Abuja Based Life Skills Experts and moderator of the Education Hub Africa group on Facebook.

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