Where Did All the Creativity Go?


Have you ever thought about why we aren’t all astronauts, cowboys, princesses and movie stars? When asked as a kid what you want to be when you grow up, those are the answers we all gave. And yet, those professions are some of the rarest out there. Funny thing is, no kids say they want to be a billing clerk, or a parking officer, or even an account executive. So what happens?

Some would say that reality sets in when you enter the real world. But I think it happens long before that. People start to grow up and out of their creativity in elementary school. Sir Ken Robinson addresses this very subject in his TEDtalk:

Schools craft their students to be ‘productive’ members of society – and by that definition, they focus mainly on math, science and language. The arts, on the other hand, are brushed aside and deemed less important, creativity going right along with it.

And for those of us who did make it through the education system as artists, creators, innovators and thinkers, is the workplace now taking over where schools left off? Personally, I see it happening everyday at work. Within the creative department, client restriction is the enemy. And within account services, an overloaded To-Do list stunts any brewing creativity. Everywhere I look, ‘creative freedom’ is actually not all that free after all. And to think that I’m at an advertising agency, I’m even more worried about the rest of the world.

Just a couple months ago, I attended a team-building workshop. The icebreaker of the day involved asking the same question to five different people – whatever you wanted to know about them. So I asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

Several of the people I asked chuckled at the notion that they weren’t ‘grown ups’ yet. And then it occured to me. Most people who are established in a career don’t even consider doing what they really want because following a passion is intimidating, risky and starting from square one. All things that don’t seem like such a good idea when you’re supposed to be a ‘grown up.’

Whether it was the mystery novel writer, the surf shack owner, or the elementary school teacher, one thing was common in all their answers: no one hesitated for even a second.


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