If you’ve read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond then you’re familiar with his idea that the development of human societies was largely dependent on the availability of large mammals (typically over 50kg) which could be domesticated.

If your society had a lack of these animals you were more likely to be (and stay) a small band of hunter-gatherers. Domesticated animals were a massive asset. Easy provision of meat, dairy products, land transport, fertiliser, wool, the pulling of a plough, and leather. People with access to domesticated animals (cows, sheep, horses, etc) were more likely to form larger societies.

He uses this idea to explain the lack of advancement in sub-Saharan Africa. It was only when cows and horses where introduced that we were able to close the development gap with the more advanced Europe, Asia and Central America.

The irony of course, is that sub-Saharan Africa has an abundance of large animals, but are not domesticatable. This includes the Zebra.

Domestication Criteria

According to Live Science (who quote Jared Diamond), there are 6 criteria that animals must meet for domestication:

  1. can’t be picky eaters (this explains why my children also can’t be domesticated)
  2. must reach maturity quickly
  3. must be willing to breed in captivity
  4. must be docile by nature
  5. cannot have a strong tendency to panic and flee
  6. must conform to a social hierarchy

If any of those are lacking, then your chances for domestication start to thin out really really quickly.

The thing that struck me about this fact (that you can’t ride or domesticate a Zebra), is that there are also human endeavours where a list of criteria must be met in order to be successful, and creativity is NOT one of them.

I’ve always been fascinated by creativity. Mostly because people struggle with it. So few people claim it as part of their make up. It is kept far away from places like businesses, schools, sports fields and places of worship. It is relegated to the fringes of society, to those with body piercings, tattoos, alternative smoking habits, who listen to non-popular music, and take holidays near Port St Johns.

Today creativity is sought after in a range of spaces and places. In a world that increasingly looks exactly the same, wherever you go, creativity is needed to differentiate yourself, your products, your ideas, and even your country. We’re all singing off the same song sheet, and we know it can’t be good for us to keep on doing so.

And yet, we seem unable to change it. To do something different. To save ourselves from our self-inflicted monotony.

Creativity Is….

I view creativity In it’s simplest sense. It’s not defined by how well you draw, or dance, or play music, etc. My definition of creativity is ‘an ability to create’. That’s it. In whatever form, using whatever tool, on whatever canvas. It spans from juggling thoughts in your mind, to re-arranging stones on the ground, to making sounds you’ve never made before while gargling water in your mouth. The result does not have to be beautiful (art is making it beautiful). The result simply has to be that once you’re done with whatever you started it is now different.

Sometimes I think people expect that ‘creativity’ should be more profound. That my definition above needs to have more substance to it? But I think creation is profound. I think God (or whomever you name her to be) must have felt pretty chuffed after they’d finished their spurt of creativity somewhere between the Big Bang and 2016. I’ve watched moms create babies, and that’s freeking awesome. I’ve seen the face of a 5 year old hand me a drawing they created especially for me, with a look of achievement so large that you’d have thought they’d constructed the Eiffel Tower. Creating something is about as profound as it gets. In fact I dare you to find me anything more profounder!

You Have To Go There

I’d like to borrow from Pablo Picasso’s well known quote:

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

And shift it slightly….

All children are creative. The problem is how to remain creative once she grows up.

The challenge is that you have to go there. You have to practice your creativity. You can’t expect it to show up at a meeting you’re at where someone is asking you to come up with ideas to change the business, or sell something differently, or look for a new opportunity. Creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, there’s a really good chance it won’t be available or useable when you require the best from it.

Each person on the planet can create, and therefore is creative. We’ve grown up in systems that have not fully encouraged us to create, instead they’ve systematically trained us to produce. Very few of us have been taught and encouraged to create. We are producers 🙁