Specifically, it was ten o’clock Monday morning when the subject came up. Exactly what is creativity and how does it work? Who has it? A few, or all of us? It was not something I thought I’d be talking and thinking about so early in the day. But, I’d just had my morning coffee so I suppose I was coherent enough to give it a shot.
I work in a creative business, but in truth I’ve been surrounded by creativity all my life. I grew up in affluent, cultured Santa Barbara where from my childhood on I was surrounded by artists, musicians, screenwriters and poets. My high school musical director was Henry Brubeck, the brother of jazz legend, Dave. Film composer, Ernest Gold conducted the Santa Barbara Symphony and movie producers planned their next films while having breakfast in a Montecito coffee shop. Even as a child I attended theater, concerts and ballet. I worked on the school newspaper, played in the high school band and filmed a documentary while in my final year. For me, being creative was simply a way of life.
There’s a school of thought that says everybody is creative. With all due respect, I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree. Even while in high school geeks like myself sought out other geeks because we were different. I hung out with kids in journalism classes and music theory. I wanted to be a part of our middle and high school plays because I found the theater magical. A small group of us dreamed of Hollywood and the dream factories that were only 90 miles away. A few of us even made it there and became actors, dancers, screenwriters and directors. However, we were the oddballs, the geeks, the creatives. We were not like our fellow students. We weren’t like everybody else. I’m not talking about teenage angst, here because I actually loved high school and enjoyed every minute of it.
So, the question remains. What exactly is creativity and who has it? Several employees of the Walt Disney Company tried to answer that question Monday morning and I’m not convinced any of us fully succeeded. However, I’m convinced creatives are the same as the geeks and oddballs I knew in high school. On the job, it’s the staffers who are different than all the rest. You know the ones I mean. The trouble makers and I’m proud to be one of them. There is one thing about creativity that I absolutely know for sure and you probably do as well. You won’t find creativity in the executive suites. It’s never been there and probably never will.