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Akanna Okeke: These 6 Things May Be Hindering Your Creativity

Akanna Okeke

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dreamstime_m_10552416Everything we see around us today – the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the phones we use in communicating, even the food we eat – was created twice.

Yes, twice; first in the mind, and then in the physical. Although we only get to see them and use them at the second stage of creation, the first stage is absolutely crucial. Without it, there would be no physical manifestation, no impact, and no contribution to society.

We are all innately creative.  We all love it when we get good feedback on our output. A mother constantly asks her kids how they liked that new recipe she cooked up, a telephone company would call their customers to ask how they find the service (even though they know they might get a “face your work” response), and an employee eagerly awaits his appraisal remarks from his boss to know where he stands in the organization.

Creativity drives us.  It makes us active and passionate participants in life.  One who does not create stays stagnant and passive; very boring.  Worse still, they could do the opposite of creating by destroying things.

Not only does creativity drive us, it drives our economy.  Anyone who puts their work out there consistently enough would usually get a favourable financial feedback.  Therefore, it is never our intention to sabotage this by killing our creativity.  Most times, however, we just don’t know when we are doing so.

Here are six ways, I have discovered, by which we destroy our creative ability, leading to less productivity and ultimately less (self and financial) worth.

Watching Too Much TV
Remember how betrayed you felt when you watched movies like Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey after reading their books?  This was because they did not meet your expectations.  They never do because our imagination is always much more powerful than reality, and unique to us.

Imagination is the most important driver of creativity.  You have to be able to paint a picture of an idea conceived in your mind before bringing it to reality.

Reading books strengthen your imagination muscle.  It gets your brain working; painting pictures about what you’re reading.  When you watch TV instead, all the imagination is already done for you so you just switch off that part of your brain that works the imagination muscle, and it atrophies.

After learning this, I decreased the number of TV series I followed (and they were a lot!) to about five.  I started reading for at least fifteen minutes from a good book every day.  And I have been coming up with many ideas and creative writings.  My imagination muscle has been getting stronger!

Not Learning About Yourself
We’ve heard that “once you stop learning, you start dying”.  This is true.  If you don’t create anything to contribute to your world, you are as good as dead to it.  When you stop being productive at your job, you would most likely get fired.

The best work you’ll ever do is working on you.  Reading self-improvement books has helped me to learn more about myself, and understand my psychology better.  This, in turn, is exposing me to what my strengths are, and where my creativity lies.

We need to constantly educate ourselves on who we are. This will give us pointers to what we are good at, and where we are weak.  This way, we can stay creative in the right areas.

Focusing A Lot on Your Weaknesses
We usually compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths.  We say we could never sing like Wizkid or write like Chimamanda instead of focusing on ‘how’ we can sing and write, or ‘what’ it is that we can do well.

Creativity is unique and it brings variety to our world.  We cannot all create the same things, the same way.  One potter makes a pot differently than another potter does.  They both have different finger-prints after all.

Find your strengths by learning more about yourself.  Focus on those strengths, be consistent at developing them, and you’ll eventually have the world at your feet!

Not Building Strong Relationships
I have always been anti-social.  I naturally prefer to be alone, maybe binge-watching TV series and not having to deal with any friends or even family.  However, by pushing myself out of that comfort zone to make friends and build relationships, I have had my eyes open to a whole new reality.

Your close friends actually help you identify your strengths which you may not be aware of.  It was friends who told me I could write.  It was friends who told me I could speak well in public.  It was even friends who told me that girls naturally liked me a lot!

You need strong relationships with people, who are personally growing, in your life to help you accentuate your strengths and thus your creative ability.

Being Pessimistic
This can be very repulsive.  Nobody wants to hang around a constantly negative and fearful person.  Such people are skeptical about everything and discourage others from trying new things.

If this is you, please change today!  A good way to do this is to write down, every morning, five things that you are grateful for.  I started doing this recently and I have been beaming with optimism since.  I also find that I have been attracting optimistic people to myself also.

If you have such negative and skeptical people in your life, my advice would be to avoid them as much as possible.  We naturally listen to the loudest voices in our lives.  And if those are negative people, they will stop us from exploring our creativity.

Not Writing Down Your Ideas
Ideas come to me in a flash.  I think about something really awesome like a great article to write and I tell myself that I won’t forget it, that I will work on it when I’m free.  And of course, I almost always forget!  Now, I carry a pocket book around with me to jot down my ideas.  And when they come in the shower, like they most often do, I mull over them and dash for my pocket book as soon as I get out.

Writing down your ideas is a crucial step to implementing them. You cannot create what you don’t remember, and you cannot be remembered for what you don’t create. The Chinese got it right when they said “the palest ink is more reliable than the most powerful memory”.

So, put down those ideas in writing and avoid negative people who will discourage you from implementing them. Instead, build strong relationships with like-minded people who will help you identify your strengths.  They can only do so much, so you will have to work on yourself by studying more –preferably by reading rather than by watching TV, so that your imagination muscle is built up, and creativity unleashed!

My list is obviously not exhaustive.  I’m pretty sure there are many other things we do that suppress our creative ability.  If you know of any, please share as I am constantly looking for ways to be more creative!

Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

14 Comments

  1. Mina Martins

    August 15, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I’ll like to add, ‘Keep Doing What You Are Good At”

    You cannot be a creative, successful writer if you do not write, you cannot be a successful singer if you do not sing. Whatever your gift is, just keep doing it. This will not only motivate you and remind you of your value, but it will also help you get better. Be your own biggest competitor and keep growing your craft.
    I quit writing for almost a year once because I thought it was time to grow up and focus on my 9-5. In those months, I kept feeling like something was missing. Eventually, I began writing again, but my creativity muscles were so weak that my writings were just terrible. I understood that I was this bad because I basically let myself go. I knew the only way I could get back was to simply keep writing. So everyday, I dedicated a couple of hours to writing my thoughts, experiences and even fiction. Thankfully, I am now back on my feet and writing full-time, while also earning a living from it. I will never make the mistake of stifling my creativity by leaving it behind again,

    Beautiful article, by the way.

    • Me

      August 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Mina, let Akanna have his day please.

    • BTH Fan

      August 15, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Akanna said he needed suggestions so I’m sure Mina’s suggestion will help him. Mina, where can we read some of your write ups?

    • Bodunade

      August 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Mina’s comment is really really pertinent. It’s okay for her to contribute.

      It’s not a competition really.

  2. Daphne_647

    August 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    This is a really nice write up sir. The “girls naturally liked me a lot” had me smiling. I did not really get the other write up about kids and their future ambition but it’s still interesting to read your work

  3. Anonymous

    August 15, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    This is a such a lovely article. I can totally relate because I enjoy being by myself but I’m trying to maintain personal relationships. I like to read but not as consistent as i would like. I’m also guilty of watching way too many shows but I’m eager to read more self help books and try the 15 minutes thing as well.
    Nice write up!

  4. Baby gurl

    August 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Very very salient points. Every single point applied to me it’s like it was written for my eyes only. Thanks Akanna for this beautiful piece.

  5. Dahn

    August 15, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I love your comment Mina Martins 🙂

  6. Sarah Thurber

    August 15, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Akanna, thanks for a beautiful piece on creativity. I think you are right on target with your recommendations. They’re all ways we can make a personal shift. I’ve been studying creativity for 20 years and written books and articles on the subject. I found your observations really moving and inspiring. I’m going to share them with my teenage kids. Keep writing on the subject! Sarah

  7. Tosin

    August 15, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    You are amazing. Love!

  8. www.musingsofjudgejudyjudy.com

    August 16, 2016 at 12:30 am

    Very beautiful article Akanna and, thank you so much for your addendum Mina Martins- you are so right!

  9. Ohaka Onyeka

    August 21, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    This is so right and inspiring, it happens in our daily life. Thank You

  10. uri

    August 23, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Lovely write up Akanna

  11. pinkiee lee

    September 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I naturally like you already…very inspiring write up.

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