Let’s start with a throwback, for fun’s sake:
I work with plenty of people from financial industries. I also work with engineers, public health researchers, and others who would not be in job typically considered “creative.” Often, clients from these walks of life kvetch that they are not creative, and say that it’s probably why they chose to become an accountant (or banker, or engineer, or whatever). When I start working with them in creative storytelling, they blanch and immediately bemoan their lack of muse and the congenitally boring nature of their work.
They equate creativity with art, and art with something like music or painting.
So what is creativity not? Creativity is not defined by the fine arts. It isn’t a trait possessed by a blessed few. It isn’t constant or consistent. It doesn’t require a certain environment or set of tools. It isn’t perfect.
Creativity is something that can be learned and improved with practice. It is something that can take place anywhere, anytime, in any context. It can be applied to the mundane and practical as well as to the fanciful and frivolous. It is as much the possession and right of the accountant as it is of the artist.
Your creativity may be in developing a spreadsheet that communicates a clear statement of value by analyzing expenses in a way the board of directors had never considered. It may be figuring out how to get a group of visiting high school students interested in the subject of oil and gas fracking. It might be framing your research in a story that makes it relatable to an audience unfamiliar with your topic. This kind of problem solving flexes creativity muscles. The more you flex and work them, the more creative a thinker you’ll become and the more you’ll apply the creative mindset to other problems and circumstances.
Accountants are creative. So are bankers, engineers, dancers, teachers – creativity exists in every profession. I believe it has the potential to exist in every person, although some people need to practice it more than others to keep it going. Don’t limit yourself based on broad perceptions of your profession. Creativity is in you – you just need to think creatively about it.
How do you exercise your creative muscles in your work? Do you get a rush of creative joy from an activity that people wouldn’t consider “typically” creative? Leave a comment below and let’s talk!
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