Review: Creative Confidence

Creative Confidence:  Unleashing the Creative Power Within Us All

As I mentioned in my New Year, Fresh Start post, I received this book for Christmas. I love reading about creativity and mindful living, so when I came across this title after attending an MSU Business & Bagels event on Creativity, Innovation, and Communication; I thought it would be something I’d enjoy. And…success! (Always fun to find a new go-to tool for sparking creativity.) This book is now part of my arsenal for inspiriting self-confidence and creativity.  (You may recall the three-part series I did last year – turns out, this is an unintended part four!)

Creative Confidence Cover

The Kelley brothers, Tom and David, both come from a background that’s a little unorthodox in terms of career paths. The book touches on their experiences, but in ways that are relevant to how they got where they are today, and why they’re qualified to be writing a book on creativity and confidence. While the material is designed more for career or business-oriented creativity, it seems to translate well into any problem/solution dynamic in life. Any problem can be solved creatively; it doesn’t have to translate into customer satisfaction or a balance sheet.

Chapters have titles like Flip, Dare, Spark, Seek, Move. They are placed in the book in a sequential way that starts with the idea of design thinking. The authors empathize with the fact that most people either think they’re creative or they’re not, there’s no real middle ground. They argue that creativity, like any good skill, needs to be developed, honed, strengthened.  (They liken it to sports.) They point out that the general education system in the U.S. isn’t really set up to encourage creativity past, say, kindergarten – and it’s no wonder that people are afraid to take risks and put themselves out there. The book is designed to help lessen that fear.

There’s an entire chapter, Move, dedicated to different activities to get the wheels turning. I love things like this. I haven’t tried any yet, but I have all the pages marked for the next time I feel stagnation creeping in.

Naturally, the last chapter is titled Next. The Kelleys provide some concrete actions to take in order to continue building creative confidence. A clear winner among my favorites is the section “Experiment with Experiences” (250). To start seeing things differently, they encourage readers to do things like “Seek out new experiences [. . .] Pick up a magazine you’ve never read before, or spend time on creative websites. Take a class in the evening – or online” (250) among others.

A few lessons I took away from the book:

  1. A great way to foster the growth of creativity is to refresh your thinking. Start thinking “Isn’t that interesting?” instead of “I already know that.”
  2. “It’s hard to be ‘best’ right away, so commit to continuous and rapid improvement” (122).
  3. “Once you start to think about your life and career as just another creative challenge, many different possibilities may come to light” (166).

These are just a handful, but trust me, I have several pages of notes after just a first read!

Kelley, David and Tom Kelley. Creative Confidence:  Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All. New York:  Random House, 2013. Print.

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