We are all born with creativity

We are all born with creativity. Beginning to explore is not an easy step. Taking those first few requires determination and persistence when learning to walk, for instance. I haven’t met one child after a wobbly first step and landing back on their bottom to declare, “this walking lark is not for me!”. And giving up!

We need to believe in our own creative ability, believe in experimenting with new unknowns, and believe we can discover important things about our-self if only we are willing to take that first step into the unknown. And words of encouragement from others or none can have a significant impact on the outcome.

Alas, many of us lack that fundamental belief in our creativity, so crucial in our exploration and discovery. We are all born with creative ability. But often, we are conditioned over time to believe we aren’t creative.

Think back to your own childhood experiences with art. Did you enjoy it? Were you good at it? How did you know you were good at art or not so good? I remember asking this question to a client during our first ‘C.R.E.A.T.E.’ session on creativity.

Here is what  she said:

“I remember in year 2 in primary school and our art teacher, Mrs Jackson, came to our class each week”, recalls Debby, recently retired from her job in banking. Debby continues:

One day, Mrs Jackson asked us to draw a picture of our favourite character from a  story we were reading. I was mad about cats – ‘cat in the hat’ was my favourite book at the time. I grabbed my crayons and drew a cat complete with a ‘hat and bow tie’ red in colour (my favourite colour at the time). I can remember really enjoying drawing that picture. As she walked around the classroom looking at the pictures being drawn, Mrs Jackson stopped by the girl in front of me and couldn’t praise her enough about how wonderful her drawing was! When I looked at my classmates’ picture, I knew immediately that hers was ‘better.’ She had drawn a princess with a dress that could have come out of the pages of a fashion magazine. Of course, Mrs Jackson made a point of saying how nice my drawing was, but I could tell from her voice that she was just trying to make me feel better.

Past experiences

Like Debby, most of us have past experiences that come back to haunt us, remind us, “something happened,” and this is the belief and a story I made it mean. And what Debby made it mean was art is about producing masterpieces. And the sad belief that “I am not very creative because I can’t draw for toffees.”

So as we progress through life with this newfound belief, we pick up further evidence. Maybe a passing comment from a family member, friend or work colleague adds to the picture that supports the belief “I am not very creative.” Debby’s unintended drawing lesson was only one piece of the picture; the sad truth is that many of us experience similar lessons in all the arts: dance, poetry, music etc.

The good news was that during our coaching session on creativity, Debby got to revisit and explore those beliefs that were holding her back, look at them from a new perspective, in a new frame and see them for what they are just a story she made up about her-self that was not true. And I’m glad to report that Debby went from strength to strength during the creativity session and has now created a vision and put into action a plan for her reinvention.

As a coach, we must develop an understanding of the power and nature of beliefs. These are not beliefs in the religious sense of the word but rather those that individuals have about themselves. So, what is a belief in this context?

The dictionary definition says a belief is “A principle accepted as true or real without proof. An opinion, a conviction!”

Can you remember a past time when you held a belief that was holding you back? What did you do about it? Do you still hold on to it?


We hold on to outdated beliefs about our-self for a reason; maybe they give us status, power, keep us safe from criticism etc. But there is a price to pay for our hard-earned belief—lack of empathy, love, connection, creativity are just a few. The only way to be creative is to do something new, and the path to something new requires leaving something else. And finding the inner child.

Inner child

As ‘Piacasso’ said, “It takes a long time to become young”. He was talking about that creativity requires one to cultivate the mind of a child. In the Yoga tradition, this is referred to as a “beginners mind.” Which means we see things with unencumbered eyes. We allow innocence to guide us. We take information for the first time, as though anything is possible and we are not bound by conversation. This is exactly what I do with my clients during the creativity stage of reinvention. “Childish” spontaneity to find the inner child, no worries about others judgments or their own judgment.

We can say 2 plus 2 is 4. We can also say it is 22. And why not say it is 2 over 2, or twotwo, or tutu? When we see with the mind of a child, we can play and invent our own rules. But somewhere along the way, most of us lose that ability. Conventional thinking takes root. We follow the path of least resistance. We allow the should and the shouldn’t, the that’ll-never-works, the I-can’t-do-that’s, the how-will-I-ever, the what-will-they-thinks to shout down our more youthful instincts. Like Debby with Mrs Jackson’s comment on her drawing and the belief, it instilled in her.

The Japanese artist Howard Ikemoto tells us about a conversation he had with his daughter. “when my daughter was seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college-that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “you mean they forgot?”

You do not see to draw; you draw to see,

Maybe it’s time to be creative?


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Excerpt courtesy of “Becoming a life change artist” Fred Mandell, Ph.D., & Kathleen Jordan, Ph.D.