Harman’s Eat and Drink – Denver | Reclaimed DesignWorks Gallery
Most everyone is born creative. As children, we experience imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and refer to them as dinosaurs. But as time passes, as a result of socialization and formal education, most of us will stifle those impulses. We discover how to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world generally seems to divide into “creatives” and “noncreatives,” and so many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves on the latter category.
And yet we realize that creativity is vital to success in any discipline or industry. According to a recent IBM survey of chief executives all over the world, it’s probably the most sought-after trait in leaders today. No one can deny that creativity has allowed the increase and continued success of various companies, from start-ups like Facebook and Google to stalwarts like Procter & Gamble and General Electric.
Students often arrived at Stanford University’s “d.school” (that has been founded by considered one of us—David Kelley—and it is formally known as the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) to build up their creativity. Clients assist IDEO, our design and innovation consultancy, for similar reason. But along the way, we’ve discovered that our obligation isn’t to instruct them creativity. It’s to help them rediscover their creative confidence—the natural ability to think of new ideas and also the courage to use them out. We do this by providing them ways to work through four fears that hold many people back: concern with the messy unknown, concern with being judged, anxiety about the first step, and concern with losing control.
Easier said than can be done, you could argue. But we all know it’s possible for people to overcome even their most deep-seated fears. Consider the work of Albert Bandura, a world-renowned psychologist and Stanford professor. In one number of early experiments, he helped people conquer lifelong snake phobias by guiding them by having a number of increasingly demanding interactions. They would start with watching a snake via a two-way mirror. Once at ease with that, they’d progress to observing it with an open door, then to watching someone else touch the snake, then to touching it themselves by way of a heavy leather glove, and, finally, quickly, to touching it using own bare hands. Bandura calls this procedure for experiencing one small success after another “guided mastery.” The individuals who experienced it weren’t just cured of the crippling fear they'd assumed was untreatable. They also had less anxiety and more success in other areas of their lives, taking up new and potentially frightening activities like horse riding and public speaking. They tried harder, persevered longer, together more resilience facing failure. They had gained a brand new confidence in their capability to attain the things they set out to do.