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Unleashing Your Creative Confidence


Creatorbase is all about applying and encouraging creativity. We call active community members ‘co-creators’ because, in my humble opinion, all of us are creators in our own ways, no matter what field we're in or task we undertake by ourselves or with others.

But maybe you don't think you're a creative person. Often times, creative people are the ones who have been assigned that role, right? They have "creative" in their titles and team names, after all. They're the people you talk about when you say, "I'll get my creative team on it."

Creative people don't work in accounting, finance or IT, because you have to color within the lines in those departments. Artists? Creative. Department Managers? Not creative. CEOs? The least creative of all.

I don’t personally believe this but I’m being edgy to help illustrate a point.

Unfortunately, society tends to divide people into "creative" and "noncreative" camps. The sad thing is that this binary thinking squelches the true creative spark that lives deep down in all of us.

David Kelley has devoted his life and work to unlocking people's innate creativity. He outlines his philosophy in a landmark TED Talk

Overcoming 'Fear of Judgment'

Kelley started out as an electrical engineer but went on to co-found the design firm IDEO (among its contributions to the digital world: the computer mouse).

Kelley's work with his design firm and d.School, which he founded at Stanford University where he has been a professor for 25 years, aims to help people in all parts of an organization innovate routinely.

It takes thinking differently about what creativity means and to help people overcome what he calls "fear of judgment" – the main killer of creativity.

Opting Back into Creativity

Kelley believes that many of us don't think we are creative people or "out of the box" thinkers because someone or a particular environment way back in our childhoods stomped on our attempts to create.

That causes people to "opt out" of creativity because we fear the judgment of others – parents, teachers, friends, co-workers – if we don't say or do the "right" creative thing, Kelley says.

The embarrassment you felt in first grade when the kid across the aisle laughed at your green skies and purple people becomes ingrained in adulthood.

Kelley aims to introduce what he calls "a methodology and culture of innovation." In a corporate environment, this means bringing people together across disciplines and departments to work on creative solutions to problems.

"I want to help people regain the creative confidence they lost along the way," he says in his TED Talk.

Fear to Familiarity

He and his staff walks workshop participants through a series of what he calls "baby steps" that aim to recognize and quell that fear of judgment, similar to the "guided mastery" methods fellow Stanford professor Albert Bandura uses to cure phobias.

"We take people who had the fear that they weren't creative through a series of steps, achieve a series of small successes, and they turn fear into familiarity. They surprise themselves, and the transformation is amazing," Kelley says.

"If they stick with it, they do amazing things. They surprise themselves to see how innovative they and their teams are."

Watch the Ted Talk and Read the Book

Kelley's TED Talk from 2012, has garnered more than 3.6 million views. Cue it up on your next coffee break. The 10 minutes you invest could be the start of your creative breakthrough. And if you're inspired by Kelley's point of view, check out the 'Creative Confidence' book he co-wrote with his brother, Tom Kelley. I read it last year and highly recommend unleashing your creative confidence.

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