Why every child is more creative than you

Have you ever:

  • written an article?

  • made a website?

  • created a video?

  • made a painting?

  • recorded a podcast?

  • analysed data and made a graph meaningful to you?

If you didn’t check all the items off, why not? I think I have a solid hunch.

When we’re children, if someone puts crayons in front of us, we draw. When we sit in front of a computer, we learn to use it. When someone gives us LEGO, we build and we do so with excitement and joy.

So what happens to us as we grow up?

Judgment.

School, parents, relatives, the people we want to impress. They begin to judge us and our work. Grades, frowns, lack of reaction — those instill in us the fear of judgment.

How fear of judgment hinders you

Back to the initial list. If you haven’t created something using all the media mentioned, it’s probably because they intimidate you. You haven’t done it before. You’re not good at it.

You are a programmer, not a video maker. You are a podcaster, not a programmer. You are a visual artist, not a data analyst. You are a writer, not an animator.

And so it goes, we fear not being good at something because others would judge us. That’s the fear of judgment imposing limits on your creativity and the richness of your lives.

But… come closer now, I’ll whisper a secret to you:

No one will judge you if you don’t show them.

You can write a blogpost and not publish it. You can make a drawing and not share it. You can make a video and not put it on YouTube

Why do it at all then?

Enthusiasm first, then mastery

In the Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle, he describes that early in a career, it is best that coaches don’t point out every mistake to athletes or artists. Instead, their role is encouragement.

Go do it! Awesome job! What if you did this? That’s really interesting! How would you improve it?

And as the coachees fall in love with the art or the sport, they begin to want to get better. Only then the coaches point out mistakes, but with surgical precision, not judgment.

And here’s the thing: these mistakes are often made in private. Why? To be shielded from judgment. Nothing kills a spark of creativity faster than a premature judgment.

Enthusiasm comes first, before mastery. And enthusiasm grows fastest in private.

Why try new unrelated things

Now, why would you bother trying something not related to your work? For example, why would you make a video when you are a writer?

  1. It will eliminate needless fear We are often intimidated by things just because we haven’t tried them. Recently, I made an stop-motion animation and surprise!, it took me about 15 minutes. As a result, I no longer feel the fear of the unknown and can create more fun animations.

  2. It will make your life richer True, there is very little economic incentive to learn any language other than English, but why, then, does Mark Zuckerberg learn Chinese? Or why bother studying caligraphy or doing art at all? Because gives us insight into different cultures or disciplines and enjoyment that we can use to inspire what we do normally as work. Steve Jobs learned about typography in college out of curiosity and then years later used that knowledge to improve notably the quality of digital fonts.

  3. It will help you communicate If a designer understands code, and a programmer understands design, won’t they make a better team? Won’t the communication be less frustrating and more understanding?

  4. It can become a career The hobby you pick up because it’s fun can through the twists and turns eventually become a career, or be the basis of a creative leap in your work. It’s more and more common for artists to be able to leave 9-to-5 jobs because of the skills they built up by creative exploration they shared with the Internet.

These are some of the main reasons.

In a world, where being a specialist is rewarded, people can easily make the mistake of making themselves siloed. But as the specialist jobs are becoming eliminated by trained AIs and robots and the demand for creativity increases, we need diverse skillsets and those we can only get by trying new things in new fields.

So do something you’ve never done before. Make a drawing, record a podcast, code a website… Whatever you normally don’t do. Create in private to not let the fear of judgment stump you and play as a child would. Your life will be richer for it.

Coffee fuels my creative life. Buy me one, kind stranger?
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