Christian Finucane is founder and creative partner at The Core Agency.
We all know that creativity is a vital human trait that has the power to drive innovation, solve complex problems and bring joy to our lives. Whether you’re trying to crack a new strategy, ad concept, vaccine formula or even developing a new financial product a healthy dollop of naivety and immaturity can be the factors that makes the difference.
Watching my three kids muck around at home reminds me of the creative qualities that we’re all born with naturally. Ok, admittedly I have to see past their occasional challenging behaviour before I recognise they’re just innocently embracing such qualities as curiosity, wonder, and a sense of imagination that seemingly makes anything possible. Excluding of course making their beds or getting off the PlayStation…
As we adults progress and ‘grow up’ through our career, we can feel pressured to be more serious, make less mistakes and take fewer risks. All of which combine to be a creativity killer.
We often stifle our imagination in the quest for efficiency and practicalities as society conform our adult brains to sit within social norms.
So, perhaps we should stop and listen to our inner child to unleash our creative constraints?
Let’s face it, childhood is a time of boundless curiosity. Kids are naturally inquisitive, constantly asking ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’. It’s this insatiable curiosity that’s the very foundation of a creative mind. It drives us to understand the world around us, question the status quo and rearrange the pieces.
Another powerful trait that children have in abundance is imagination. Young minds effortlessly conjure up fantastical worlds, imaginary friends and stories that defy the limits of reality. It’s their imagination that’s a wellspring of creativity. Lived experience is the enemy of a limitless imagination.
Children are also unburdened by the fear of failure. They readily try new things, experiment and take risks without worrying about the consequences. This fearlessness is also crucial ingredient of creativity. As adults, we so often become risk-adverse, fearing judgement or the consequences of failure. Especially in our industry in tougher economic times. Yet a fearless approach can help us push the boundaries and of what’s possible and reap higher rewards.
Another childlike quality that can boost creativity is the ability to see the world through fresh eyes. Kids find wonder and entertainment in the simplest of things – a butterfly, a cardboard box, even a puddle. They see novelty in the everyday. As we grow older, we become desensitised to the world around us, taking things for granted and becoming less observant.
Rekindling the ability to see the world through fresh eyes can lead to a new-found appreciation for the world’s wonders and spark creativity and inspiration.
It becomes obvious why creatives work in teams when you consider how children interact.
Collaboration and play are essential parts of childhood. Children thrive when they engage in play with their peers - fostering teamwork, experimentation and no-rules creativity.
When we adults embrace a more open and childlike approach (minus the tantrums) we can tap into the collective creativity of the group and generate more innovative ideas quicker.
Children are also unapologetically themselves, expressing their thoughts and feelings without the filters that develop in adulthood. Embracing this authenticity in adulthood can lead to greater self-expression and more genuine creative output.
In our rapidly changing world, where problems are becoming increasingly complex, unbridled creative thinking is more needed and valuable than ever. Being ‘childish’ is not about regressing to a state of immaturity, but about embracing the qualities that children naturally possess and applying them in an adult context. By doing so, we can unlock our full creative potential.
Fear not, I’m not arguing to make the adult brain redundant. It’s important to strike a balance. While childlike qualities can foster creativity, they must be complemented by the wisdom and experience that comes with age. Just ask any Creative Director who has junior teams in the agency.
Numerous industries provide ample evidence of the importance of staying childlike for creativity’s sake. Just for starters think technology, architecture or art. Many of these were and are driven by people who maintained a childlike approach to their work - continuously asking questions, imagining new possibilities and taking risks.
Innovators like Steve Jobs were known for their childlike curiosity and relentless pursuit of creative solutions. Jobs famously said, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” And we all know what his mindset created.
Jobs, Utzon and Picasso (and the list goes on) were known for their ability to see the world through fresh eyes and express their creativity. In fact, it was Picasso who said, “The first half of life is learning to be an adult and the second half is learning to be a child.”
So, there’s a good chance that having fun, brainstorming some ideas and being brave enough to share them will help us sell more cat food, boost a client’s share price or even cure cancer!
Creativity doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all just child’s play really.