Back in October 2019, I was privileged enough to attend the 2019 AVMA Economic Summit in Chicago (which I realize to some, may sound like torture), but it is right up my personal alley of interest. As I got checked in, I was pumped and ready to talk about macroeconomics, student debt, behavioral economics and the financial future of veterinary medicine! Then I looked at the schedule and saw one of the Keynote speakers was a non-veterinarian, non-economist speaker talking about... creativity? Going into it with an open mind, this ended up being one of the most memorable discussions I’ve been a part of and it has resonated with me since.
When I thought of creativity, I usually pictured creative geniuses like Pablo Picasso, Maya Angelou, and Charles Darwin. Either you have a creative gift or you don’t; right brain dominant or left brain dominant. Allen Gannett, the author of The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time (a book I have yet to read), provided an alternate perspective to this. He mentioned that only 25 percent of people believe they’re living up to their creative potential, and I considered myself the majority there. I’ve since learned, though, that there are ways to train your brain and give yourself more opportunities to express your creativity.
First: consumption. For some reason, I always had the idea that consumers consume and creators create. But creators consume just as much, if not more, than consumers do. Movie producers watch films, authors read books, business owners evaluate other business models, and so on.
Second: shut up. Research shows that the active, cognitive thinking parts of your brain are very loud and overwhelming whereas the creative parts of your brain are quiet and subtle. So, for the sake of anthropomorphizing, creating opportunities for silence is essential in enabling creativity to be heard.
Third: fake it till you make it. Gannett worded this more accurately by recommending to ‘engage in imitation’ and it goes hand-in-hand with consumption. For example, Benjamin Franklin taught himself to write by constantly rewriting books that he found, physically taking them apart, putting them back together, turning stories into poems, then back to stories, and actively analyzing their components inside and out.
Despite the challenges and precarious circumstances revolving around COVID 19, I have been utilizing this break to take a step towards developing my creativity. I've worked on my consumption by reading some neglected books and articles, rewriting my notes from conferences the past year, and listening to podcasts and TED Talks. I’ve turned down the mindless distractions by temporarily deleting social media, avoiding the television and exercising in silence. Lastly, to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to practice imitation while maintaining social distancing and without performing illegal medicine in my living room. So we’ll see what I come up with.