Teresa Amabile wrote an article for The Harvard Business Review recently that caught my attention. She seeks to confront two “myths” about creativity: “First, that creativity is morally, ethically good. Second, that certain arenas of human activity are off-limits to creativity.”
She responds to the first of these “myths” by contending that creativity is essentially amoral. As to the second, she notes that our squeamishness about “creativity” in some disciplines (like accounting) should not blind us to the fact that creativity in virtually any discipline can be beneficial.
Both points are valid, but I would add some additional thoughts.
Concerning her first point, there is evidence that creativity is very important to human satisfaction. We are tool-using and reflective animals, and we wish to influence what we perceive in the world around us. So good or bad, we’re going to want to do it.
Concerning her second observation, I could not agree more. I get a tremendous amount of resistance from students and colleagues when I insist that they are either creative or simply don’t know it yet. It is safe to believe that you can’t do something. It is more authentic, however, to try — and if necessary, try again — and find out.
So, are there any disciplines that should be off-limits to creativity? In what discipline(s) have you seen creativity that surprised (and intrigued) you? Let me know in the comments.