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The "I'm Not A Genius" Syndrome

By Dr Jill Ammon-Wexler.

Creativity is often viewed as a characteristic of a few gifted geniuses. John Briggs, author of Fire In the Crucible: The Alchemy of Creative Genius believes: "The way we talk about creativity often reinforces the notion it is some kind of special gift."

But in truth, creativity goes far beyond the ability to paint, write, create a new business, or invent a new product. Stripped down to its bare essentials -- creativity is actually a fundamental survival skill.

And you'll unleash far more creativity by simply adjusting how you "think about" creativity.

The "Sides" of Creativity On an artistic level -- creativity is the search for the elusive "Aha" -- a moment of insight when we suddenly see a problem, or an idea, in an entirely new and fresh way.

It's true that not everyone can be Beethoven or Picasso or Einstein.

But the impulse to breakthrough to a new idea is not limited to artists and geniuses. We each have our own natural creative genius.

On the "everyday" level -- creativity is actually at the heart of any action that somehow transforms your inner or outer reality. You are actually being "creative" when you open the refrigerator door and search for the "makings" of a sandwich.

Why So Few People "Feel Creative" Why then do so few people manage to consider themselves "creative?"

It's because most of us were taught to repress our natural desire to challenge the "reality" of things as they are.

Professor Mark Runco,founder of the Creativity Research Journal explains it like this: "We put children in groups and make them sit in desks and raise their hands before they talk. We put all the emphasis on conformity and order, then we wonder why they aren't being spontaneous and creative!"

Sound painfully familiar?

Overturning the "Genius" Myth Another reason many do not consider themselves creative is the "I'm not a genius" syndrome.

David Perkins, co-director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education agrees. Perkins believes we don't believe ourselves to be creative because we're often intimidated by the "genius myth."

This old myth claims creativity is restricted to high IQ "geniuses." But this was actually debunked years ago in a study begun by Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman -- the man who adapted the original French IQ test for the USA.

In the early 1920s Terman had California school-teachers select 1,528 "genius" schoolchildren with an IQ above 135. These children's lives were then followed by a research team for 60 years.

After six decades the researchers found that these geniuses had done fairly well. Many were professionals and had stable, prosperous lives. But interestingly -- very few had made notable creative contributions to society, and literally none had completed any extraordinary creative work.

According to Dr. Dean Simonton, author of Genius, Creativity and Leadership and Scientific Genius: "There just isn't any correlation between creativity and IQ."

Unleash Your Creative Impulses To free your natural creative impulses it's often necessary to resist the pressure to "march in step" with the rest of the world.

This can be admittedly tough.

One place to start is by trying an original way of doing some habitual task. Virtually everything you do can be done in a slightly different, slightly better way --- from organizing your paperwork, to washing the dishes.

And remember, the essence of creativity is NOT necessarily getting things "right." At it's heart -- creativity is based on risk taking. On being willing to make some "mistakes."

And here's a point about mistakes and failure: Many who claim they aren't creative say this simply because they tried once -- and failed.

But interestingly, creative genius may actually go hand-in-hand with failure.

Consider the great creative genius Edison. He held over 1,000 patents. But most of them are forgotten, because they weren't worth much to begin with.

So don't let "fear of failure" stop you from exercising and building your creative muscles.

By Dr Jill Ammon-Wexler
Personal Excellence Mentor
(c)2004 All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

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