Harman’s Eat and Drink – Denver | Reclaimed DesignWorks Gallery
Most people are born creative. As children, we enjoy imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and contact them dinosaurs. But with time, due to socialization and formal education, most of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world appears to divide into “creatives” and “noncreatives,” and many folks consciously or unconsciously resign themselves for the latter category.
And yet we realize that creativity is important to success in any discipline or industry. According to a recently available IBM survey of chief executives worldwide, it’s the most sought-after trait in leaders today. No one can deny that creative thinking means an upswing 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 among us—David Kelley—and is formally called the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) to develop their creativity. Clients assist IDEO, our design and innovation consultancy, for the similar reason. But in the process, we’ve learned that our obligation isn’t to teach them creativity. It’s to assist them rediscover their creative confidence—the natural capacity to think of new ideas and the courage to test them out. We do this by providing them ways to get past four fears that hold the majority of us back: nervous about the messy unknown, fear of being judged, anxiety about step one, and anxiety about losing control.
Easier said than actually doing it, you could possibly argue. But we all know it’s easy for visitors to overcome even their most deep-seated fears. Consider the work of Albert Bandura, a world-renowned psychologist and Stanford professor. In one group of early experiments, he helped people conquer lifelong snake phobias by guiding them through a group of increasingly demanding interactions. They would begin with watching a snake through a two-way mirror. Once more comfortable 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 through a heavy leather glove, and, finally, in several hours, to touching it with their own bare hands. Bandura calls this technique of experiencing one small success after another “guided mastery.” The those who experienced it weren’t just cured of an crippling fear that they assumed was untreatable. They also had less anxiety and more success in other regions with their lives, taking up new and potentially frightening activities like horse riding and presentation. They tried harder, persevered longer, and had more resilience when confronted with failure. They had gained a brand new confidence in their capacity to attain what they attempt to do.