The moment people come to know I am a creativity and innovation trainer, they ask me, sometimes even challenge me, "Why do we need creativity training?"
Recently a friend asked, "It's the creative faculty which made us different from other animals. Not just animals, we also mastered the natural forces for our own good and could survive in spite of all threats on the planet. When our forefathers created the wheel, or the first stone tools, there were no creativity trainers. It was all natural to them. Why do we need creativity training now?"
Now, that's an interesting questions.
I told my friend, "There were no CEOs, but then they had tribal chiefs. Because someone had to lead the group. And in same way, even in those early days, training was involved in some form or the other. They might not be called trainers, but the ones with higher skill-sets must be a source of learning for the others. The human race progressed so much because we could pass on the learning from one generation to another, and the next generations didn't have to start from point zero, they worked ahead.
Shamans, chief hunters, cave-painters and storytellers were all trainers. If we look closely, that's what the trainers and consultants do even today. We encapsulate the learning from various domains of life, learn specialised skills and share it with the trainees in such a way that they can learn it with ease.
We are storytellers too; we choose the stories which makes the most impact, the anecdotes which reveal the deeper meanings of things, or the case studies which puts the learners in many different scenarios.
Training widens our horizons. It takes us deeper into the hidden aspects of subjects. It shortens the learning curve".
Now, it was my turn to ask the friend a question:
"Do you believe all human beings are creative?"
She replied with a quick yes, "Certainly! We humans are the most creative race on the planet!"
I pushed my point, "We think so, but, through the history how many geniuses were there? People who made a difference to our race?" She thought a little, "A few thousand!"
"If you take away those few thousand geniuses who made the difference, the inventors and artists, and explorers, what others were doing? Among the millions of people on the earth only one asked, why the apple falls upside down and not the other way? Only a handful of people challenged the assumption that Earth was the centre of the universe, and that actually Earth revolves around the Sun. They faced the threats to their life, some of them were burnt alive. If we are a creative race, why was it so? Why the vast majority couldn't accept another point of view?"
My friend was thinking deeply. She said, "I believe people are creative, but they were afraid of the authorities. Moreover, these new facts were challenging their sense of identity. It broke their belief that their scriptures were gospel truth!"
"That's the crux of this discussion' I chimed in, "as a race we are governed by two conflicting programs. On the one hand we have the capacity to think new, to discover new realities; and on the other hand, our brains are wired for safety and security. Going against the authority and the status quo can endanger us. Leaving the crowd and going into uncharted territory alone can also lead us into trouble. That's why the majority choose group-security, peer-approval over new experiences. When I say the majority, I mean 99%!"
She asked, "I understand, but how creativity training can help here?"
I explained, "People talk about getting out of the box. But they don't realize they created the box themselves. When they choose safety and security in conventional methods, rather than the new possible realities, they are locking themselves up in the box. Because everyone is in the same box, it seems it is the best thing to happen to the humankind. It feels normal. They don't even realize they are shackled by old thinking.
I will word your assumption differently. Rather than saying all human beings are creative, I say, all human beings have the potential to be creative. To realize this potential, we must make a choice. We must believe in our inner power to create rather than depend on other authorities to create the 'world' for us.
That's where creativity training helps. The trainers show you the box in its stark reality, and then give the participants tips and techniques to be free from the narrow assumptions binding them.
It's like giving the people a torch! When you have a torch you feel a little more comfortable going into an unknown alley. You muster the courage to go deeper into a cave and might find hidden treasures, or a path to a whole new world".
She chuckled, "That's a nice way to put it. Though, you didn't mention about the strange creatures that might be there in the cave. But a creative torch will sure increase the chances that I will go in!"
I summed up my position, "In our creativity training programme, we trigger the creative programme hidden in the human hearts. We show people how to use the latent creative capacity. And once they see it in action, the moment they experience the creative AHA, they are hooked on to it. Like that torch, we arm participants with many more creative devices. Even armours to protect yourself from the strange creatures.
In day-to-day terms these tips and techniques will help you create better ideas, profitable ideas. It will increase productivity for your organsation and help you save time and resources. It will add fun and passion to life, too. We want to add a few more thousands of names to the human race, people who can add value. We know that will make a huge difference!"
She reflected a bit and smiled, "I know, what you mean. Thinking we are all creative is a false assumption. Even I am boxed. I read the same kind of magazine, go to the same restaurants and shun new experiences. Especially in the today's information overflow everyone is getting the same news, and there is no time to think for ourselves. I am moving up on the corporate ladder, but the life feels dull and boring.
Our decisions are pre-cooked for us, in a way. There is even more need for creativity training today, than ever before.
You made me think. The real question is, am I among those thousands who are making a difference, or, I am just enjoying a prosperous life because they ventured to create a better world"
And then she made a decision:
"I need the creative torch! When is your next creativity training programme?"