When I was younger, I never thought of myself as being particularly creative. After all, I can’t play any instruments and I’ve never been very good at drawing.
But what I didn’t appreciate was that creativity is so much more than we often give it credit for.
It ultimately comes down to your ability to innovate and be able to come up with new ideas.
The truth is that can manifest in so many ways.
What really defines highly creative people is that they possess unique behaviors that help them to think outside the box and in the process, push boundaries.
1) They open themselves up to ambiguity
We’re designed to seek safety and clarity.
It’s a survival drive within us. That’s why it can seem unusual to make friends with uncertainty.
However, people with a high level of creativity tend to be divergent thinkers and embrace ambiguity rather than shying away from it.
Rather than get fixated on one outcome or idea, they prefer to leave the door open for new opportunities to emerge.
Many of us can become stubborn in our way of thinking. But that is so often at the detriment of our creativity.
When we move away from rigid thinking we can explore so many more interpretations and possibilities.
That’s exactly why instead of trying to seek clear-cut answers, highly creative people embrace unpredictability and use it as a catalyst for coming up with unique solutions.
2) They like to get lost in daydreams
It’s one of the little contradictory quirks of creative folk.
They’re able to intensely focus on things, getting caught up in the productive flow. But they’re also great at letting their mind wander.
At school, you may have been told off for doing this very thing.
Yet, forget what your teacher told you about it being a bad habit, it may be a sign of heightened imagination and creativity.
People with a high level of creativity frequently engage in daydreaming, allowing their minds to drift off and explore new ideas.
Rather than making them undisciplined, it’s this mental escapism that can lead to innovative breakthroughs.
3) They get involved in risky business
That shouldn’t be confused with recklessness.
But risk-taking is something highly creative types are used to. Because they appreciate that big advancements often come with a certain level of vulnerability.
This means that they are willing to step outside their comfort zone.
Artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who has been called the Mother of American modernism once remarked:
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
The point is that it doesn’t mean creative people don’t feel fear, but they know that failure isn’t permanent and it usually brings with it some valuable insights.
4) They allow themselves to mess up
Highly creative people can accept that failure is part of the journey. In fact, more than that, they even see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Rather than being discouraged by setbacks, they use them as stepping stones.
The motto of a highly creative person is:
Learn, adapt, and grow.
This usually demands plenty of persistence and resilience. When obstacles appear, they don’t allow themselves to be derailed.
Often it’s their secret weapon that gives them the passion to fuel their perseverance— and that is being intensely interested in the world around them.
5) They show real curiosity and pay attention to what is happening
Curiosity is one of the main driving forces behind creativity.
Highly creative individuals possess an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Without this desire to keep them moving forward, it’s all too easy to lose interest and give up.
This can show up in several ways:
- Asking lots of questions
- Always wanting to know more
- Trying to figure out and understand how things work
- Being incredibly observant and noticing your surroundings
- Being generally “switched on”
Creative people really thrive in thought-provoking situations and environments. They love nothing better than getting those little grey cells working on exploring different subjects.
So you’ll often find they are lifelong learners who always seeking out new information.
This is like the food that fuels their imagination.
6) They seek out novelty and new experiences
Whilst some structure can be helpful in building a supportive environment, very creative people can also find routine suffocating.
Breaking away from monotonous routines and seeking new experiences then becomes really important for them.
They prefer to seek out novel situations in order to stimulate their minds.
Luckily, as we’ve already noted, they don’t have a problem with stepping out of their comfort zone.
You’ll find that very creative people often have a weird and wonderful range of interests, from arts and science to sports and technology.
Whatever their unusual interests, the thing that unites creative types is this:
They are constantly seeking new activities and challenges.
7) They aren’t afraid to go against the grain
In many ways, creatives are natural rebels.
It’s something backed up by research, with one study finding that artists are more prone to rebellion.
University of Melbourne researcher Karen Hendricks explains:
“The healthy rebellion aspect involves things like questioning social conventions and being open to new or radical ideas.”
Part of creating anything new can mean you have to be prepared to challenge established wisdom.
Ruffling feathers can be an unavoidable aspect of that, as you question conventional norms and beliefs.
Highly creative individuals are not content to simply accept things at face value. Instead, they strive to find alternative solutions and viewpoints.
It’s this willingness to push barriers that paves the way for progress.
8) They listen to their gut
Do creative types go with their head or their heart?
Because that’s the clever and often underappreciated thing about intuition. It is not some completely unscientific mystical phenomenon.
It is the combination of countless stored experiences that gives you a useful instinct about something.
It is the wisdom of your knowledge (head) brought to you through your heart (a feeling you get about something).
Steve Jobs once said that intuition is more powerful than intellect.
He may have a point because this faster way of processing information is more sophisticated. It lets us merge what we already know more quickly with new information we encounter.
This is a very important skill to have when you want to generate creative ideas.
9) They embrace solitude and use it to their advantage
While collaboration is important, creative individuals also value solitude and alone time.
Being on your own provides fertile ground for:
- Deep thinking
All of these are significant processes when it comes to getting your creative juices flowing.
It helps people to arrive at their Eureka moment because it gives you space to delve into your thoughts and ideas without distractions.
Inventor Nikola Tesla found isolation an important part of his process, once claiming that:
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. That is why many of the earthly miracles have had their genesis in humble surroundings.”
10) They’re able to put different pieces of the puzzle together
Being able to bring together different elements is known as associative thinking.
It’s something that highly creative people seem naturally good at, and is often linked to this ability to daydream which we mentioned earlier.
That’s because it’s a sort of open-ended way of thinking. They often excel at finding common ground between unrelated ideas and concepts.
This helps them to make unexpected associations that can lead to fresh perspectives and solutions.
Having a keen eye for details becomes very useful in spotting patterns and connections that other people can overlook.
Highly creative people are able to:
- Draw parallels between disparate concepts
- Find inspiration in unusual places
- Brainstorm numerous possibilities
Tap into your creativity
So there you have it, the unusual behaviors that indicate a high level of creativity.
Did you identify any within yourself?
By recognizing and nurturing these behaviors, we can push beyond the narrow confines of what we think of creativity as.
That allows us to unlock more of our creative potential and embark on a journey of innovation and self-expression.
Embrace novelty, get comfortable with alone time, teach yourself to think more flexibly, and view failure as a valid stepping stone to let your creativity soar.
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