I don’t think I like the concept of talent. At least not how I was led to perceive it.
My idea of talent formed through my own observations, as a student in New Zealand. With a great program, facilities and culture, I was a fortunate kiwi kid given every opportunity to thrive. I was never great academically, but applied myself enough to achieve above-average academic results. I was born with little athletic ability, but I’d always ‘give it a go’ and did the best with what I was given. I remember thinking often “I’m good at most things, but I’ve never been great at one thing.”
I’d envy the peers around me who’s immaculate illustrations lined the walls of the tech block, or the guy that broke the school high-jump record… year, after year, after year. This is where my inaccurate thoughts of talent began to develop. Because we’re taught from a young age to find what we’re “good” at to help decide what subjects to choose, and ultimately what careers to pursue. What I realize now, is that talent is merely the springboard.
To compare my beliefs to an RPG character (or ‘Role Playing Game’ character for those that aren’t a nerd like me), we start with a set amount of points divided across different attributes, depending on your genetics and upbringing. As we age and continue to learn, we begin to earn XP (more nerd references). What you do with these points, is completely up to you. You may choose to load them up and shine in certain areas, or maybe you prefer to spread them across the board. Either way, try not to trap yourself by thinking that your skill level is limited by your talents.
Working on a range of PR campaigns, one of my jobs is devising creative solutions for clients. This requires a certain degree of creativity at work, which is something that I enjoy and feel confident doing. I consider myself creative, and this came to be through a recipe of equal parts talent, training and ambition. A mistake often made by professionals, is that creativity can’t be taught. And that there’s a category of people who are creative (often labeled “the creative”) and those who are not. I would implore you to refrain from the ideology, and instead attempt to look from the perspective that the creative category is only another area to spend your XP.
As to why you might want to develop your creativity, there are a few reasons. Number one being the forecast for creativity in business as a highly desired skill for future professionals. Speaker and best-selling Author Bernard Marr even listed it as one of his “top five most important job skills for the future”. In the short team, understanding the creative process can help improve much of your day-to-day. You might have a quick and logical fix for a recurring problem, but in stepping back and thinking outside of the box, there may be a more permanent answer to your problem.
Becoming more creative is by no means an easy task, especially if you’re self-teaching. Expect the early niggles and embarrassment that come with the beginning of learning anything new. Avoid comparing yourself to others, as it’s likely they’ve had a head start. But if given time, perseverance and practice, you’ll find yourself building a character that’s stronger in the later stages of the game that is life. Much like social sport is to fitness, find avenues to aid in building your creativity beyond work and study. By doing this you’re also likely to surround yourself by others with the same mind-set. It might take a year or many, depending on where you’re starting from, but so long as you know it’s up to you to choose just where your skill set ends.
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Campbell Brown is a Digital and Social Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. His enthusiasm lies in creating strong social content and building positive relationships with clients.