How to Build Your Creative Confidence

How to Build Your Creative Confidence

Jackie Ashton
Jul 12, 2012

When it comes to boosting creative confidence, consider the advice of IDEO founder and chairman David Kelley — a man recognized as one of America's leading design innovators.

In his moving TED Talk on the subject, Kelley tells a story from his elementary school days back at the Oakdale school in Ohio. According to the tale, his friend Brian was making a horse out of clay in third grade, when one of the girls said, "That's terrible! That's not what a horse looks like!" The young David looked down with slumped shoulders, figured he was not the creative type, and tossed his failed project aside. He never tackled a project like that again.

Kelley urges the audience to consider: Do you categorize yourself and others as either creative or non-creative? If you do, you are not alone. But recent research, including that in Jonah Lehrer's recent book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, debunks the theory that creative types are born. New evidence points to the contrary: While creativity comes easily for some, it is a skill that can be honed and developed — by all.

During treatment for cancer — he was given less than a forty percent chance of survival — Kelley arrived at the epiphany that a sudden brush with death often produces: he realized his life's purpose. Kelley explains that during cancer treatments, it became clear that what he was put on earth to do was to help people re-build the creative confidence that they had lost since childhood.

He explains that many adults "opt out" of creativity — a natural part of childhood — because they have come to believe that they are not good at it, or that it will not be lucrative. "That opting out [of creativity] that happens in childhood, he says, "moves in and becomes more ingrained by the time you get to adult life."

The truth is, we are all creative — and creativity is critically important to health, happiness, self-worth, and innovation. The secret to building your creative confidence is to remember that you are creative in the first place — to regain that unabashed love of discovery and innovation that you had when you were small.

Don't sentence people to a lifetime as a non-creative simply because they opted out of that natural state, Kelley advises. "Let their ideas fly; let them achieve self-efficacy," he says. "When people regain that confidence, magic happens."

For more information, view David Kelley's Ted Talk on How to Build Your Creative Confidence.

(Image: Matt & Betsy's Color-Inspired Coach House)

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