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Creative Confidence – Acting As If All Ideas Have Value

Increasing Creative ConfidenceIn the previous post, we revisited the definition of creative confidence developed by the Children’s Creativity Museum (CCM): Creative confidence is having the freedom and courage to fail/take creative risks and the knowledge that all of the ideas you create have value.

More to the point, I invited you to participate in an experiment: To think about the second part of the definition (creative confidence is the knowledge that all of the ideas you create have value) and to share your proof with me. Thanks to everyone who shared either publicly or privately!

I feel fortunate that I’ve known all ideas have value for a long time – since I began my first career in advertising – and I’ve put a lot of thought into the reasons why the definition is true.

I begin exploring the value of all ideas as a way to overcome internal creative saboteurs related to having my creative work rejected. During that process, I became a champion of what I knew to be the inherent creativity within the people I worked with. Especially, the creativity within the employees across the hall from the creative department: the account executives.

At ad agencies, the mindset that account executives are not creative is pervasive. The typical office structure of creative side/account side completely separated supports it. 

But it was clear to me that ideas ALWAYS had value within the context of advertising (and any other context) because they were either directly usable; opened up a new perspective from which to view a creative problem and solve it; or contributed new possibilities or creative fodder to explore.

When I let my knowledge that all ideas had value and that all people were inherently creative be known through various things I said or how I acted during a meeting or with clients, account executives begin to share their ideas with me more regularly and without the usual disclaimer of “this is probably not a good idea.” The more they shared, the more confident they become and the more ideas they had. Which makes sense.

When any of us practices our creativity or increases our creative confidence in some way, it’s like working that part of ourselves out at the gym. We get stronger at idea generation and our creations get stronger, too.

Once I decided (out of self preservation initially) that all ideas had value and once I acted as if all ideas had value, my creative own confidence soared. I was free to share any and all ideas with not a single “This may be a stupid idea …” preamble. I also learned how to build on other people’s ideas effectively, rather than “but-ing” them to death.

So, this brings us to Part Two of our creative confidence experiment: Acting as if we had the knowledge that all of our ideas have value – which means, adopting behaviors that demonstrate we have that knowledge for certain.

Here’s what I’d like us to do: Simply delete bad, silly, dumb, etc., language or thoughts when referring your own ideas for one week, and instead, hold yourself to saying, “I have a great idea” before you share with yourself or others.

Say it out loud, even if you’re saying it to yourself.

When someone else shares an idea with you – whether it’s about a dinner option or a project – say the same thing, “That’s a really great idea.” We’re using “great” instead of “valuable” simply because it’s the more typical phrasing and, therefore, less awkward. But you’ll know you’re referencing the value of all ideas.

If you do all this already, just do it more consciously over the next week.

Armed with the proof that all ideas have value from the previous post, and now acting as if they really do, your job is to notice the affect this experiment has on your creative confidence – and to share what you notice in a comment to this post.

No matter what, something valuable WILL come from doing this exercise. After all, it’s an idea.

To acting as if we valued our ideas,

Susan B.

Photo by ieshraq on Flickr. Some rights reserved.