Let’s not even get into the nature vs. nurture conversation around creativity. Why does it have to be one or the other? It can be both.
For the purposes of this conversation, let’s also agree that creativity goes way beyond the arts. There are opportunities for creativity for every skill, talent and personality style.
Now that we have that out of the way, you’re ready to take on my book review of Tom and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All . I received a review copy of this book months and months ago and I have to admit that while the subject matter is definitely something I’m interested in, it took me a while to actually pick it up and get into it.
It was the new year and the launch of several new projects that inspired me to pick up Creative Confidence. I’m sure you know what I mean – we business owners have so much to do and so little time to get it all done. Then there are the constant fires to put out and client or customer issues to resolve.
All of these leave very little time for the kind of open and relaxed mindedness required to think creatively and actually come up with something that inspires you and your team (oh, and makes money too!).
Creativity is a Mindset – Something You Can Choose and Practice
Creative Confidence doesn’t try to teach you creativity, nor does it blather on about other creative people and leave you feeling inadequate. Instead, the authors point out that creativity is a mindset – a choice that you make, a way to look at the world. Once you’ve decided to look at the world as a more distant observer, rather than jumping to conclusions or judgments, creative ideas will start popping up for you.
To that end, the stories and examples that the authors, Tom Kelley (@TomKelley74 ) and David Kelley offer are of regular people — just like you — who were practiced enough to step away from the details of the situation and suddenly see what was right in front of them.
There’s Doug Diets, a regular guy who designs MRI machines for GE. He noticed how frightened patients were (especially children) when it came time to go “into” the MRI and designed a fun pirate ship version of the machine so that kids would feel more comfortable.
The key to getting the most out of this book is understanding that creativity is how you choose to be and how you choose to look at the world. In another example, the authors talk about “gaming” and how it’s completely acceptable to fail and “die” in a video game because you know it’s not real. And by repeatedly failing, you ultimately learn how to play the game and move forward.
What if you were able to bring that same fearlessness to your every day life and business? What are all the different opportunities that you have to fail safely?
Yes, You Can Have Fun Making Money and Making a Difference
Each chapter in the book is filled with inspiration stories and how-to tips that you can use to help you on your way to living a more creative and rewarding life. As I read through each one, I noticed my little voice saying things like, “Oh yeah, sure…easy for you to say” but then I realized how deeply I was rooted in being busy, in doing what had to be done, in taking myself entirely too seriously and that this kind of thinking was actually sabotaging everything I was trying to accomplish.
That’s when I started reading the book differently. I started and taking a little extra time with the how-to sections and ideas that the authors recommended in each chapter – just to see how it would work. And guess what? I started having FUN!
First, I played with stick figures (page 60) and started drawing out a day in the life of my customers. I can’t begin to describe how powerful and fun an experience that was. By simply using simple shapes like circles, squares, triangles and blobs I got closer to experiencing what my customers experienced and how I could help them.
Then I took that one step further and started playing with Storyboarding (page 138) to help me succinctly explain a new product and service that I was planning on launching.
Finally, I played with a team exercise called 30 circles (page 219) and had a blast working out my brain by seeing how many of the 30 circles I could fill in with recognizable objects.
Who Will Get the Most From this Book?
Marketers, copywriters, designers – anyone who has to be creative on-demand should have a copy of this book close at hand. There is a lot of content in the book with exercises mixed in, so you’ll have to read through the book and mark the exercises that you will want to come back to.
Small business owners will love the book as a sort of meditative guide or personal respite from the overwhelming insanity of constantly doing. When you find yourself freaking out – grab this book and pick an exercise to play with around your challenge. You just may come up with the next money-maker.
Coaches and consultants will love the many exercises and team activities that you can use with your clients to get them un-stuck.
Creative Confidence is a beautiful, high-end book printed on high quality paper with gorgeous graphics. This isn’t a cheap book by any means, so don’t be surprised by the price tag. But it’s a book that you can place on your coffee table or in your office for easy reference.
One more quick tip for digital readers. If you’ve got a black and white Kindle, I wouldn’t recommend downloading this book that way. It’s entirely too beautiful and may be hard to read. I can’t say for sure because I have a hard copy, but based on what I’ve seen with graphics on older Kindles, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re going to read it on a color digital reader like an iPad or Kindle Fire, then by all means, go for it.
It’s definitely a book you want to have with you while you’re traveling or if you want to run a quick exercise with a team.
The last thing I have to say for Creative Confidence  is that I’m a fan. If you decide to read it, you’ll definitely see the world through new eyes and have more fun being creative – especially if you don’t think you are.