C. S. Lewis once said, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about the originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will nine times out of 10, become original without ever having noticed.”
Of course I stumbled upon this quote in my last minute attempt to write an article pertaining creativity. How timely. How convenient.
This means that I will not have to make big attempts to find bombastic words to couple with revolutionary concepts while weaving it into paragraphs that I can hope to change a person’s whole outlook on, well, “looking outside the box”.
All I have to do is to keep ranting on as I currently am and see where I end up. Right?
All until I realise I have no idea where I am going with this, decide to virtually scrunch up this Word document file and throw it into an imaginative bin along with all the other lame ideas I’ve had with any regard to this subject. How am I doing so far?
In today’s fast paced system of live feeds, constant updates and upgrades, being creative goes beyond adding merely salt and pepper to the work that we do. The demand is originality. The chase is uniqueness.
Words like ‘fresh’, ‘different’, ‘new’, and ‘innovative’ are beginning to sound like a drone because they have been continuously requested. But the truth of the matter is that there is no way around it. You just have to stand out.
But who is not unique these days? Every restaurant claims originality. Every new design idea clings to the “fresh” (hash) tag.
In an attempt to start young, children are signed up for swimming classes, violin lessons, karate training and various art and sports programmes by well-meaning parents to foster well rounded children in hope of bringing up “talented” individuals.
When we talk about being different, we are defining ourselves by what we are not and inherently comparing ourselves to everyone else. This is why the quote from C.S. Lewis speaks volumes.
Always begin with the truth
This begins with a sense of self-awareness. Whether you are looking at it from an individual point of view or from the view of an organisation, define yourself by what you are instead of how you are different.
The knowledge of who you are is stronger than an attempt to be original. Without looking at being different, original or creative, your natural attempt of interpreting your “truth” will naturally make you and your “truth” original. “Nine out of 10 times” at least.
When it comes to being creative, be bold and daring with who you are, what you have and the truth that you know. Get your mind off trying so hard to impress. Perhaps then, you will truly impress.
Your originality doesn’t involve trying to be original. It simply involves action.
“See a need, fill a need.”
Being an animated movie junkie, I find these words of Bigweld from the 2005 movie Robots a true inspiration. In fact, all the other great inventors and innovators that came before us operated this way, whether they watched the movie or not.
The examples are endless. From Thomas Edison with the light bulb to Steve Jobs who took it one step further by creating a need first, they worked to solve a need that they saw.
With the likes of Facebook and Twitter in our lives calling us to keep promoting ourselves, it is no wonder that we can get consumed by the chase for new experiences and information to build our social CV. For ourselves. So much so we risk being too absorbed by our own agendas to be creative.
This is a “truth” that goes beyond the self. There is always one need or another that needs to be filled. It is our duty as members of a larger community to notice these things and work to serve each other.
So toss that rag you keep using to polish apples and take a bite! Following the truth, creativity will flow.
Divya Chandy is a part of the youth division of Leaderonomics that is passionate about inspiring youths towards leadership excellence. Click here for more articles.