Help! I need to be more creative

08 August, 2016 by Michael Williams

In every job, there is a need to be creative, think outside the box and find a solution to a challenge. For many, they believe they just don’t have that creative part of their brain. So is creativity a God given skill, or something you can practice and achieve?
Help! I need to be more creative

When I was a boy I was fortunate enough to have been brought up next to a golf course, and doubly fortunate that my parents paid for my membership and encouraged me to spend my summer playing golf as much as possible. I enjoyed it, but I never really cracked it. Maybe because I had so many interests like Rugby, football and tennis and computer games. But maybe also because it was too available to me and I didn’t appreciate it enough, I don’t know. 

Also at my club was a young boy called Rory, and whilst I played 18 holes and went into the club house for a well-earned sausage and chips (highlight of my day!), I’d see that boy carrying his golf bag back up to the tee box to play another 18. His father Gerry, who worked in the clubhouse behind the bar would serve us our lunch and I’d think how that poor kid is being pushed by his dad to stay out there, under his watchful eye. That boy is now 4 time major winning Golf professional, Rory McIlroy.

Gerry McIlroy was a great golfer, and wanted his son to enjoy the game too, and when he realised Rory was enjoying it and showing great potential he doubled down and made compromises to give Rory the opportunity to learn and play golf better than he ever did, and it paid off. Rory’s story is one of good golfing genes, hard work and passion for the game. Not a pushy parent by any means.

My father was a Landscape Architect. I’ve no doubt I got some of his creative genes. As a boy besides golf, rugby, football and computer games, I’d sketch designs for hi-fi’s and cars. I had an inherent interest in design and I’m lucky that I’ve been able to turn it into a career. I haven’t become a major champion of design, but there are a few designers who have. In all walks of life, there is always that 1% who set the bar of mastery, genius and originality.

As a designer it’s what we all aspire to; truly genius and original creative ideas. I’ve worked as a designer or creative my whole professional career. Are all my ideas original? No. Are they plagiarist? No way! They're derivative. They've derived from a combination of observations and inspirations I've made along the way. And that is how all creative people work. I love this TED talk from Mark Ronson, who talks about sampling. In his talk he says DJ’s who sample “aren’t trying to cash in on someone else’s song. It’s that they recognised something in it that spoke to them and that they instantly wanted to inject themselves into the narrative of that music "because in music, you take something that you love, and you build on it.” This is what creative people do, day in and day out. They take something that inspires them, and build on it. 

When people say to me they’d love to be more creative but don’t have that skill, I say I’d love to be a better golfer, but I don’t give up just because I’m not Rory. You practice, you work hard to find the things that speak to you and you add it to your experiences. Forget that your parents weren’t creative, thats for the 1%. If you’ve got the passion and the drive to be more creative, knuckle down and go get it. Don’t cash in on others ideas, but derive, remix and sample. As the legendary inventor Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”

Author: Michael is the Creative Design Lead in our Belfast Deloitte Digital studio.  Comment him on Twitter @theresmike if you’ve any thoughts or feedback on this thought article.