Early into my career in communications, a family friend – an art teacher and a mom – said something to me I’ve never forgotten: “I believe we all have some kind of creativity; some kind of artistic talent, whether it’s with words or numbers or dance or materials. I’ve always said that to my own children, and to the ones I teach…and they have always found the artist in themselves.”
Some of us find our inner artist quickly and easily, and know where to get the tools we need to get better and more skillful. And some of us need a little help figuring it out. Want some ways to find out what your creative gifts are?
Ask your friends and colleagues. Those who see us solving problems, expressing joy, doing our work, and communicating and interacting with others can see things about us we can’t – or else those gifts come so easily to us that we don’t realize how special they are. In fact, some life coaches suggest this exercise to their clients: send a note to five or 10 friends and ask them to tell you what they see as your best skills and gifts. One friend, a health practitioner, never saw herself as an instructor, though everyone around her could see that she was an exceptional and effective educator – and now she’s thinking of ways she can add this in to her career.
Log 10,000 hours at work or play! The 10,000-hours concept originated with Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado: he called it “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.” This belief was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated and Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code, which note that master skill can be achieved and expert talent developed over 10 years/10,000 hours.
Do the things creatives do. Creative people are keen observers of who and what are around them, use their imaginations actively, work the hours when they are most ingenious (don’t try this at home if your employer isn’t on board!), meditate and/or spend some time alone, see obstacles as opportunities, are curious and adventurous, are risk-takers who aren’t afraid to fall and get up again, produce environments that feed their creativity, and stay connected to the things they’re passionate about. So if you used to love to tap-dance and juggle when you were 10, maybe it’s time to try that again.