The University Record, June 11, 1996

Creativity is a learned behavior, Blixt tells participants

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Creativity will be the lifeboat of the new millennium, Jill Blixt told participants in the workshop "Getting Out of the Box: Unleash Your Creative Potential." Creativity will allow one to be more competitive on a professional level, enhance one's self-esteem, and in general produce a lean and mean professional who will be able to survive amid change.

"Creativity can also be thought of as innovation," Blixt said, "which is creativity with a profit focus."

Unleashing creative potential in the workplace requires the removal of stumbling blocks such as believing that there is no time for fun and humor, that fantasy and reflection are a waste of time, or that playfulness is only for children. Emotional blocks such as fear of failure or success, perfectionism, the inability to relax and the inability to tolerate ambiguity or chaotic energy must be tumbled.

Intellectual blocks in the way of creativity include the inability to focus, express or record ideas and the notion that one must always come up with the "right answer." Even environmental and cultural blocks such as autocratic management and lack of cooperation among colleagues can be pushed out of the way on the path to unleashing professional creativity.

Go ahead, Blixt says, and ask "dumb" questions like "why is it being done that way?" or "why do we need a committee to look at this?" Challenge assumptions, she says, but be aware of "killer phrases" such as "yes, but and we've always done it this way."

Suggested exercises for broadening perceptions include getting out of bed on the "other" side, taking a whole roll of pictures of one person or thing, rearranging and redecorating your work space, exploring some place just with yourself, and not reading anything for a week, which means you aren't taking on anyone else's thoughts, but generating your own.

With these steps one can make progress toward obtaining the qualities of highly creative people, which include being curious, tolerant of ambiguity, passionate, flexible, fluent, receptive, perceptive, intuitive, patient, open to risks, persevering, sensitive, innocent and most of all PLAYFUL.

"Creativity," Blixt says, "is the ability to look at the same thing as everyone else and see something different. And this is a learned behavior."