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Developing creativity: Finding extraordinary among the ordinary

by Suzette Garvey

Developing creativity is directly tied to your time spent in pursuit of this seemingly elusive commodity. Surely, you are familiar with people who embody creativity. Then, there are others who claim no creativity at all. A 2016 global study by Adobe confirms we’re our own worst critics. Less than half of us consider ourselves creative; about one-third of us fulfill our creative potential. As I see it, creativity can be developed and dialed up, if you’re hungry for the extraordinary.

Creativity requires purposefully dwelling among the energy within you and around you as a foundation toward creating something new. It’s a purposeful process comprised of five phases: orientation, reflection, wonder, vulnerability and new creation.

In your pursuit of developing creativity, focus on this accompanying image for a moment, and then continue reading.

creativity inspired by plant life


You are uniquely positioned in relation to the plant image above. You’d need to orient yourself differently or focus on another plant (real or recalled) for additional perspectives of a plant.

Keep in mind, your environment can influence whether you successfully advance to the next stage of reflection. Change your environment and/or orientation if you experience too many distractions.


When you give serious thought or consideration to something, that’s known as reflection.

Developing creativity requires spending time with both a medium or discipline and a stimulus. Your medium could be painting, photography, singing, speech, product development, mathematics or landscaping. Your stimulus could be another person’s face, a style of music, theories or nature — like the plant image.

Briefly pause and reflect upon the plant image again. List one aspect of the plant that stands out. Now, imagine if you spent more time with the plant. You might discover something deeper — something wondrous.


Wonder sparks when you experience something admirable, lovely, unexpected or unfamiliar. The longer you immerse yourself in reflection, the more likely you are to discover wonder or encounter the extraordinary among the ordinary. The more opportunities you have for discovering wonder, the more quickly you can achieve this phase of creativity in the future. It’s like muscle memory.

Consider the time Thomas Edison invested toward the carbon filament light bulb. According to Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, he conducted well over 2,000 experiments toward his successful, patented invention. He went on to invent the phonograph, film and the motion picture camera.

Moving closer to present day creativity, entertainment website Literary Hub verifies “Chicken Soup for the Soul” had 144 rejections before becoming a best-selling book.

As you head into the next phase of creativity, refer back to the significant aspect you listed for the plant. Next to that, write down why you chose that aspect.


Whichever conclusion or emotion you’re experiencing right now requires energy and vulnerability. Creativity brings you face to face with the brokenness and beauty of the world around you — and that of your own soul. Working through your findings can result in a rush of emotions.

Regularly spending time within these emotions requires ongoing vulnerability. You willingly let creativity command your time and attention. You willingly let it filter through you and change you.

New creation

New creation is the final phase of creativity, at least it should be. Sadly, some creations don’t get shared with others. A creator may feel it’s “not ready” or “not their best work.”

The book “Defying the Crowd” by Sternberg and Lubart, includes a widely recognized opinion among those who study creativity, “A product is creative when it is novel and appropriate.” This mindset is both helpful and dangerous when developing creativity. Often, only the most diligent personalities are rewarded. All others must persevere or give up. 

But there’s a hunger that comes along with the creative realm — for both the creator and those encountering the creation. It challenges creators to devote more time to creative pursuits, sharing life-enriching outcomes.

If only for your own development, make the time for creative pursuits. Orient yourself in an environment that encourages creativity. Devote yourself to reflection. Be open to wonder. Work through your vulnerability. Then, share your new creation. Be your own kind of extraordinary.

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