Alla Tkachuk FRSA explores the relationship between creativity and courage.
Creativity and courage are closely connected. Creativity - changing status quo, thinking independently, going against conventions - demands courage. ‘Courage is another word for creativity’ said George Prince, co-founder of Synectics.
We live in the age of anxiety. We hear about terrorism, climate change or wars daily, and we fear. It affects our ability to think, make decisions and take risks. Fear turns us into the hollow functionaries and stops us from getting what we want from life. We desperately need courage. To be human is to be brave. To be successful is to show courage.
But, courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to move through it creatively – with new ideas and visions. Both creativity and fear are about survival. Creativity is about ‘fighting’, fear - is about ‘flighting’. Being creative helps us to evaluate fear and act rationally. As philosopher Eric Hoffer said: “Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature."
Can we learn courage? Yes, if we are brought up creative from an early age. If we as children lack the creative experience - opportunities to be curious and try new things – we learn fear instead. Young people have a great need for action. Therefore, sanctioning their creativity causes anxiety. Creative upbringing masters our courage. It helps us to adequately cope with problems and overcome obstacles. To learn to be resourceful, resilient and confident. To express ideas and improve self-esteem. Practising creativity is practising the act of bravery.
If you are a parent, what can you do for your children today? Nurture their creativity. Encourage children to invent, experiment and imagine. Challenge them to think up new and unexpected ways that solve problems in daily life, science, technology or even business. Approve their ideas, however ‘crazy’, ‘bizarre’ or ‘impractical’ they might be. The most common answer of people to ‘what are you fearful of?’ is ‘the unknown’. Creativity by definition is going into the unknown. Allow your children to explore it.
Encourage them to play, to do arts. Arts are the best way to foster creativity in the young. Ask them to draw, paint, dance, perform or write stories. Let their art explorations be spontaneous and rich in fantasy rather than imitate nature. And the best thing, you do not need money or training for this, just a change of attitude.
Some parents and teachers might think that encouraging creativity in children - new ideas and their independent mind – can be a threat to their authority. Fear not. Creativity is constructive and altruistic, not destructive. When it is accepted and rewarded, creativity never makes children hostile or delinquent. On the contrary, according to a study of the Northwestern State University (The Need to Create, 1991), young people are likely to become delinquent or emotionally disturbed when their creativity is suppressed.
What about yourself? Do you think of yourself as creative and brave? How would you answer these questions: Do you see creativity as a positive force that improves lives and society? Are you creative, i.e. do you enjoy new ideas for changing things, or believe in doing things as they have always been done? Do you enjoy challenges and solving them by your own efforts? Do you fear failure? Do you think of yourself as resilient, i.e. quick to recover after a failure?
Alla Tkachuk is the Founder of the creativity training charity for young people in Africa, MASK, firstname.lastname@example.org