The common beliefs on creativity are shaped by the misconception that it is an inherent quality, and some people are born creative while others are not. However, creativity can be taught, and nowadays, many companies, teachers, and designers come up with different techniques to develop one’s creative skills. The modern perception of creativity is based on the idea of creative confidence, which means the freedom and courage to take risks and not be afraid to fail.
It is important to stay confident in order to be innovative because confidence is the key to success. The biggest obstacle to creativity is the fear of failure. Starting from early childhood, when our efforts are met with criticism from teachers, parents, and peers, we lose confidence and stop trying. We are afraid to be judged and start to avoid doing things that we are not good at. People who learn to embrace failure and not let it stop them are more likely to achieve the desired result.
Several techniques have been designed to help people get their creative confidence back. One of them is the strategy developed by psychologist Albert Bandura called “the process of guided mastery.” It claims that we need to approach every problem in a series of small steps in order to gain our confidence back and turn fear into a sense of familiarity. What cannot be accomplished in a leap can be achieved gradually, with each following task being a little bit more difficult than the previous one.
It is also important to develop the so-called “growth mindset,” which is based on the idea that abilities can be improved, and goals that we cannot achieve now may become possible if we keep trying. When teaching creativity, it is important to overcome one’s obsession with success by praising efforts and processes instead of talent and results. It helps to instill confidence in others and inspire them to profit from creative challenges and failures rather than taking an easy road. Innovation is only possible when people learn to overcome their fear of judgment and failure and shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.
Creativity at Pixar
Ed Catmull, a co-founder of Pixar, has his own approach to creativity, which he describes in his book Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. The product development process at Pixar is centered around the idea of collective creativity, which uses the principles of creative confidence and growth mindset. Being an innovative leader means building a sustainable creative environment, hiring people that are more intelligent than you, putting people before ideas, and fostering the flow of ideas within the company.
Catmull believes that creativity problems are rooted in the exaggeration of the importance of the initial idea in developing an original product. In Pixar, creativity is thought to be a collective process involving a large number of people from different disciplines who work together to solve problems. Creative freedom is present at every level of the company, and each member of the production group can make their suggestions to facilitate the common goal.
Creative confidence is fostered by the company’s approach to failures. Catmull encourages Pixar employees to “get more out of postmortems,” meaning that every finished project should be analyzed and perceived as a lesson that can stimulate future decisions. A company and every employee should be able to recover when a failure occurs and perceive it as an opportunity for growth rather than a bad situation. Inspiring this type of thinking in employees and encouraging them to develop their creative skills is a key to success.