I wrote this post back in 2012, and not only does it not diminish over time, it only becomes more true.
So many of us in tech labor under the mistaken belief that we’re not “creative” (or creative “enough” as if there’s some magical threshold of creative-ness that we have to reach to show up on a scan).
We are all creative. Not only are we born creative, but we retain every ounce of that creativity throughout our life. Like any muscle, it needs to be exercised in order to grow and improve. But unlike a muscle, it doesn’t atrophy. It may go dormant, but it never goes away.
Recently I heard a snippet of a talk from musician Jacob Collier. He framed music in a way that completely transformed the entire idea of something being “bad” or “wrong”. His example uses chords but I think it applies to all creative endeavors:
You can watch the clip here:
“Rather than say ‘this note is good’ and ‘this note is bad’, it’s more ‘this note hasn’t found it’s consequence yet’ or ‘this note is in the wrong context'”.
So much of the work that we do that may be labeled “bad”, “wrong”, “inappropriate”, or “not the right fit” is really just a case where the work hasn’t found (or more often, been given) it’s proper context.
There are so many reasons why I like Indexed. This post is just another example.
Ask a kindergarten class, “How many of you can draw?” and all hands shoot up. Yes, of course we can draw—all of us. What can you draw? Anything! How about a dog eating a fire truck in a jungle? Sure! How big you want it?How many of you can sing? All hands. Of course we sing! What can you sing? Anything! What if you don’t know the words? No problem, we make them up. Let’s sing! Now? Why not!How many of you dance? Unanimous again. What kind of music do you like to dance to? Any kind! Let’s dance! Now? Sure, why not?Do you like to act in plays? Yes! Do you play musical instruments? Yes! Do you write poetry? Yes! Can you read and write and count? Yes! We’re learning that stuff now.
Their answer is Yes! Over and over again, Yes! The children are confident in spirit, infinite in resources, and eager to learn. Everything is still possible.
Try those same questions on a college audience. A small percentage of the students will raise their hands when asked if they draw or dance or sing or paint or act or play an instrument. Not infrequently, those who do raise their hands will want to qualify their response with their limitations: “I only play piano, I only draw horses, I only dance to rock and roll, I only sing in the shower.”
When asked why the limitations, college students answer they do not have talent, are not majoring in the subject, or have not done any of these things since about third grade, or worse, that they are embarrassed for others to see them sing or dance or act. You can imagine the response to the same questions asked of an older audience. The answer: No, none of the above.
What went wrong between kindergarten and college?
What happened to YES! of course I can?