Linda Gorchels blogs

Spark up your creativity: Traits of creative people

Most people say they want to be more creative. They want to build more traits of creativity. But what does that mean? That they want to be the next Steve Jobs? Or that they want to relax into an imaginative hobby?

Does it mean they want to spend more time alone, thinking prolific thoughts?  Or that they want to charge into stimulating conversations with diverse thinkers?

Hmm … (Pause to think prolific thoughts).

What is creativity?

So what is creativity? Here are a few definitions.

  • Originality, progressiveness, or imagination
  • The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns
  • A mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box

From these definitions it’s clear that creativity links to individuality. But there are other perspectives. Creativity can be more than what meets the eye.

Is creativity a solo or team activity?

The answer to this question is simply YES. There are times when being around other people can be distracting. On the other hand new insights emerge from the collision of diverse viewpoints.

Are introverts or extroverts more creative?

Just as creativity can emerge from either solo or group activities, creative people can be either introverts or extroverts. Earlier I said that creativity can emerge from a collision of perspectives. Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zones and embrace the ideas of others. Extroverts may need to stop and do a bit of internal soul-searching.

What is the difference between creativity and innovation?

Some people consider creativity to be a starting point for innovation. In that sense, innovation comes from the creativity of one or more individuals.The outcome can be a new product, an enhanced set of work procedures, or novel services.

Think in terms of people AND culture

I taught a creativity and innovation course at the Center for Professional and Executive Development at University of Wisconsin-Madison. In it I focused on the importance of both individual-think and group-think in establishing a forward-looking organizational culture. It’s a myth that only certain people are creative. People are creative in different ways, and to different degrees. So instead of contemplating whether you are creative, focus on how you are creative — and strive to enhance your own creativity.

Creativity traits – your creativity quotient

Here are the traits, characteristics, skills and viewpoints that creative people (and companies) can work to strengthen. No single person will excel at all of them. Yet collectively they will ground you in your pursuit of creativity.

A word of caution, though. If these characteristics are carried to extremes they can actually compete against each other. For example, being autonomous (independent) can sometimes make it hard to be tuned in to others. And some characteristics can have both a positive and negative side. Evaluating creative ideas is a positive activity that can turn negative if you focus exclusively on fault-finding.

So, what is your creativity quotient? Ask yourself: are you …

Curious: passionate for fresh knowledge; desiring to learn new things
Resilient: capable of overcoming setbacks; able to take risks; ambitious
Evaluative: willing to experiment and evolve your creativity beyond the idea stage
Autonomous: independent; norm-doubting
Tuned in: open and alert to the world around you; highly perceptive
Introspective: driven by innate (intrinsic) rewards; self-accepting
Visionary: having dreams and aspirations; original thinking
Energetic: adept at managing and recharging your energy

I will discuss each of these eight characteristics in future posts.