I wonder sometimes if introverts get the reputation that we’re not creative.
First, I want to define creativity as broadly as possible – it’s everything from an off-the-wall solution to a business problem to creating a beautiful painting or an astounding piece of music. It’s not just creating “things” – it’s creating ideas as well.
So why that “not creative” reputation?
For one thing, as I’ve said many times, we live in an extrovert-centric culture. The people who get attention are the people who are seen as bold and outgoing – talking about themselves and their accomplishments in ways that introverts simply don’t do. People don’t think about introverts and creativity because they rarely think about introverts at all.
Even more important – our schools and our workplaces specifically associate creativity with group work. School projects happen in groups. Work projects happen in groups. The office worker who sits alone in his cubicle and comes up with a brilliant idea to solve a problem would be laughed at – not applauded. From the time we are very young, we begin to associate creativity with groups.
But I think creativity is one of the introvert’s best skills. Introverts think a LOT. That means we take in an enormous amount of data on a regular basis and churn it up in our heads. That’s a great way to come up with original thinking – and not something you’re likely to get in a “creative” brainstorming meeting.
Creativity is often a solitary activity. Think about scientists, inventors and innovators who came up with new ideas and concepts completely on their own. They may have had help from others in the implementation – but often the original idea came from just one person.
Introverts are too often accused of being in our heads too much. But that inner world provides us with rich and fruitful ground for our most creative efforts – new and original thoughts.
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