All right. I know I threw that out there and it may seem a little strange, but it's true. Creativity is an often overlooked and underappreciated skill that is truly a super power.
Let's break it down. Creativity is something that everyone has and can develop. It simply takes practice. As children, we often excel at being creative. Most kids will make up stories and explanations when they don't understand something. They use their creativity to fill in the blanks of their knowledge.
As we grow up, however, many of us stifle or ignore our creativity. Such fantastical things are for kids - slaying dragons, playing princess, purple giraffes romping through an icy forest. We're taught how to do things "right". Zebras are only black and white, pigs can't fly, and unicorns? Don't tell me you still believe in unicorns.
Peer pressure, our school system, and our understanding of growing up all put a damper on creativity by trying to force us to conform. While I'm not suggesting we throw off the shackles of our societal systems, I am questioning whether or not we should look a bit harder at why we value conformity over creativity.
Let's face it - our world is changing ... all aspects of it. Some of those changes are rather predictable and we've been planning and preparing for years. Others are less predictable and catch us off-guard, often leaving us feeling lost, confused, and afraid.
Creativity to the rescue! When we're facing unusual or unpredictable challenges, it is often the individuals with well-developed creativity who not only flourish, but help others rise up as well. Conformity looks at a problem and only sees the "typical" solution - the one we are all taught. Sometimes ... honestly, most times, the typical solution is not the best solution or even a workable solution. Creativity looks at a problem and doesn't see a problem. Instead, creativity sees new possibilities. Creative people come at things from new angles, they suggest alternatives not considered before, and see change as a necessary part of growth.
Getting kids to be creative is rather easy. Support art and music programs in school. Encourage your children to let their imagination work for them instead of against them. Ask them to design a new mouse trap (one of my daughter's favorite engineering projects) or draw up their "perfect" home. Challenge them to create a new animal including what they would eat, where they would live, and more.
As an adult, being creative can be a little more challenging though not impossible by any means. Start small by taking up a new hobby, attempt to reuse something for a different purpose (i.e. turning a dresser drawer into a desk), or take an art class.
The more you use your creativity, the stronger it will become. Suddenly, you'll find yourself applying it to far more than the next painting you make. You'll suddenly start seeing new solutions to old problems, will find that you are more willing to take chances, and have the confidence to attempt something new.
So the next time your child tells you they saw a goblin dancing around in the garden, don't tell them to stop making up ridiculous stories. Instead, mention that you thought you saw a dragon that morning and wonder if they are perhaps friends.