Want to be “intelligent” and average or “creative” and successful?

Studies over the last 50 years show children increasing in IQ.  But since 1990, scores of creativity have gone down.  Our children, and adults, are becoming less creative.

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful.  Too much TV, video games and time indoors can be blamed.  But standardized tests and the push to accumulate facts have added to the decline.

As adults, creativity will open opportunities more than intelligence.  The average GPA of decamillionaires in America is 2.7.  A 4.0 GPA can lead to very common jobs and careers.  A lower IQ may allow for a more authentic and successful career path.

Here are some things we can do as adults to kill or increase our creativity.

Ways to kill creativity and idea generation:

  1. Wallowing in self-pity
  2. Blaming others
  3. Giving up on dreams
  4. Overreacting to criticism
  5. Underestimating your opportunities

Ways to increase creativity:

  1. Laugh out loud every day
  2. Break familiar routines
  3. Say to yourself, “I can do this”
  4. Set aside 15 minutes daily for “thinking”
  5. Read one non-fiction book a month

“A lot of what we think of as neurosis in this country is simply people who are unhappy because they’re not using their creative resources.”  Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)

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19 Responses to “Want to be “intelligent” and average or “creative” and successful?”

  1. Financial Bondage Says:

    when I was a kid, we played outside every day. Usually running, climbing trees, or on our bicycles. Today’s kids don’t do much physically and they are overweight at an early age.

  2. Justin Hughes Says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree with the findings. The problem is that creativity is very difficult to measure. As such saying that creativity is decreasing is based on a measure that has never accurately gauged it in the first place.

    I do agree it seems that society places less importance on creativity than recitation, but given conditions and a chance to let it flourish, I think our latent creativity will blossom.

    So basically, I’m saying that creativity isn’t decreasing just being suppressed.

  3. Theresa Lode Says:

    Yesterday, Jay and I visited with a 50-year-old man who dropped out of school after 8th grade. He is articulate, well-educated and has supported his family with his entrepreneurial giftings. Ditto with another guy we visited with today who told us about his dad who had a 6th grade education but who was a mechanical genius. (And did extremely well in life.)

    Had these men finished school, I suspect they would have had a different outcome in their successful lives.

    Our conformity driven educational models are a detriment to our human need to be creative. From learning to color in the lines in kindergarten, children are systematically and year after year, taught that compliance is the most important skill to have.

    What a lie.

  4. lpangelrob Says:

    What is the average GPA of other income brackets?

    What if those with incomes of less than $20k have a GPA of 1.5? I want to know the limits of this correlation.

  5. Dan Miller Says:

    Ipangelrob – if the correlation implied here holds up then those with incomes of less than $20K likely had a 4.0. It’s somewhat of an inverse relationship of income to GPA. The 2.7 GPA students ended up as decamillionaires – those who dropped out completely became the Bill Gates and Michael Dells of the world.

  6. Joanne Miller Says:

    Wow! Some very interesting comments going on here. I can really get on my soapbox, Justin, on how our society (especially the educational system) suppresses creativity. And Financial Bondage’s remarks sure left me thinking. I remember as a child how I could create a beautiful castle to play in by just going outside under a big bush. Today, kids expect to have an air-conditioned, custom made play castle for their “imaginations”…….I have read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and very much agree with the quote Dan has at the end of his blog. I know that if I am too busy with life to tap into my own creative nature, I can get depressed and angry with the world. And, Theresa, it is amazing to us to hear so many stories of people who never (or barely) graduated from high school or college who have become wildly successful in their chosen path……..

  7. lpangelrob Says:

    Joanne – completely unrelated to the post. Sorry. =)

    What did you think of “The Artist’s Way”? My wife finds some of the main ideas of the book – mainly the whole “trusting the universe” part – as something that doesn’t necessarily fit into her Christian theology. I know the book tries to encourage readers to substitute its ideas of a higher power for our ideas of God, but… for her, sometimes the fit just ain’t right.

    I wouldn’t call it heretical, but at the very least, it seemed off to her.

  8. Amber Hendrickson Says:

    As a former high school teacher who used projects that required more than regurgitation of facts, I was dismayed to see how weak and rusty most of my students’ creative skills were. The beginning of the year was always really hard for my students, but by the end, they were much more creative and it came easier for them.

    I believe everyone is creative or has the ability to become creative. Creativity is not only art, music, acting like so many assume – according to Dictionary.com it is “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations”.

    The more often you tap into that ability, the easier and stronger it becomes. Doing just 1 of the activities you mentioned every day will help exercise your “creative muscles” and make it much easier to call on those muscles when you need them.

    A couple other of my favorite creativity exercises:
    1. Make a list of as many uses of a simple object, such as a cardboard box, as you can – aim for at least 30.

    2. If you took away something – your cell phone – what would your days look like, how would they be changed? What would you have to do differently? What would you use more of as a replacement?

    Sorry for the long reply – your post really touches a passionate subject for me, especially with the education system and the suppression of creativity, among other things.

  9. therealmotherlode Says:

    Bravo, Amber! Loved what you had to add….What an interesting discussion this has been.

  10. Mike Says:

    browsing the listed “ways to kill creativity”, – ‘over-reacting to criticism’ jumped off the screen at me! – I was immedietly aware of how I allow this to happen- my present job (toxic in every sense), is a place of intense criticism and hostility, idea-stealing and blame-slinging…yikes! its freeing to realize we actually give power,in a sense, to our persecutors by our validating their (hostile) criticism… holding my head up and pitying their lack of insight and good judgement helps not only save my day emotionally, but helps me not judge them in a harsh way that keeps the aftertaste there for the next day…if I can learn to not be suceptible to people’s take on things, filter out whats toxic and useless and discern whats helpful , I see a lot of victory coming!

  11. Joanne Miller Says:

    In answer to the question about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book and quote…………I found it to be an amazing book. I know that many Christians find fault with it because of her “liberal” theology. If I read every book that totally agreed with my theology I would limit myself to a very few books. Cameron’s dealing with creativity is outstanding and I would hate to think that anyone would toss out her principles and understanding of creativity just because she worships differently or has a different philosophy of life. The group of women I studied this book with were devout Christians. We all gained a lot by our discussions. If Cameron’s book offends your Christian bent, then read The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer. It is the same thing only more Christianized.

  12. Bibledebt Says:

    There is much more to success than simply a GPA or Creativity. You can be very book smart or be very creative and not have the drive, follow-though, street smarts, etc to turn your creativity or smarts into something that will be useful to yourself or others. Drive, determination, perseverance, vision along with GPA and creativity describe many who are successful.

  13. Nancy Says:

    Thank you Dan for this post and thank all of the others that left comments. I have been uplifted and poked to move forward and stop feeling sorry for myself. I am going to move forward! Not sure yet how it will turn out but I am looking forward to the adventure!

  14. Andrew Says:

    Dan, the book Brain Rules by John Medina fits in very well with this topic. One of his findings is that exercise is the best way to improve creativity and productivity. I suggest you check it out. Thanks for the blog posts!

  15. Josh Says:

    The more I stop watching TV the more I hate watching it. I always feel there is something more entertaining and fulfilling to do.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  16. Ursy66 Says:

    As a classroom teacher I must agree with Dan. I have been teaching many years and things are changing. I think our society is putting too much emphasis on education and not enough with inner creativity. I have many students who are now adults and have gone the education route have college degrees but they grew up being spoon fed by the television and other media and they are disappointed.They never learned how to draw from within.

  17. Kenneth Says:

    Setting aside time for “thinking” is so critical in all areas of life. Too often we consider this as wasted or idle time and forget the true value it adds to both our life and our efficiency in the work we do. As an executive in a nonprofit and as a business owner in another venture, I am finding thinking time to be the most valuable part of my week. In fact, I just returned from a week long personal retreat where I camped in a tent and spent the entire week studying God’s Word, reading biographies of successful Christian businessmen, planning and just thinking! No phone calls, limited internet access, and no interruptions. It took some time during first day to get over feeling like I was wasting time…but turned out to be a very wonderful week and should prove productive. I agree 100% that time spent “thinking” is worth the investment!

  18. Carma Says:

    I started the “Artist’s Way” a couple of months ago and am still working my way through it. Very thought-provoking and very helpful and restoring creativity in my life. I like the lists you provide for how to kill creativity and how to increase our creativity. Too often, we may be ‘killing’ creativity without realizing it. I have found that it doesn’t take much to bring creativity back into our lives – which is indicated by the 2nd list. Thanks for the post!

  19. Cortez Kingsbury Says:

    Audio started playing anytime I opened this website, so irritating!

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