I have always thought of creativity as something you are either born with or not. Without disclosing too much, I didn’t win any awards in art class. But research tells a different story. A study found that imagining you are an eccentric poet can significantly boost divergent thinking, a key indicator of creative potential.
The people in the experiment who channeled their inner Lord Byron managed to generate significantly more original ideas when asked to generate creative uses of everyday objects. Those who were instructed to imagine themselves as rigid librarians were not as successful on the divergent thinking task.
Divergent thinking enables people to see problems from many perspectives and to generate novel solutions, concepts, and ideas. Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Ai Weiwei are all classic divergent thinkers. According to the study, with a little imagination, you can be too.
There are those who would have us believe that you must always be yourself but as this study underscores, always being yourself might be holding you back. Psychologically removing yourself from a situation and the social constraints reality imposes frees you to become the person you would like to be. Acting like someone who has the capabilities you strive for enables you to access them for yourself. Dress up as your creative hero this Halloween. Any ideas for a good Leonardo costume?