My niece Charlotte was convinced she could speak Spanish. One day in a Mexican restaurant the waitress said ‘Gracias’ to her and she replied – with maximum confidence – ‘Piñata’….
The great thing about kids is that if they don’t know they still have a go. They haven’t yet learnt that being wrong is something to avoid. As adults, we can learn a lot from this more ‘creative’ mindset.
It’s not that being wrong is the same thing as creativity. But if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never invent anything new.
James Dyson, one of the world’s most famous innovators, says if you want to create something new you have to start out deliberately thinking of things that are wrong and then figure out how to make them right from there, because that sets you on a completely different track.
But this is tough. Our minds create patterns that help us make sense of the world. These patterns are helpful in many ways, but they also restrict our thinking and stop us from seeing possibilities. To solve problems and invent new things, we have to go beyond what we know.
The problem here is that we risk being wrong. Have you ever sat in a meeting and not said what you were thinking? Fear of looking stupid, of judgment or of the unknown holds all of us back in all kinds of ways. Our primitive minds are hard-wired against this – for our ancestors the mistakes they made were literally life or death. But nowadays, so long as we look left and right crossing the road, we are probably going to be okay.
So creativity is honing our ability to talk rubbish comfortably. To remove the fear and create an environment where people explore wide-open possibilities. It’s about having the freedom and confidence to generate an abundance of ideas and see where they go. Only then should we judge if they are any good or not.