Around the Institute

How To Build Creative Confidence

June 29, 2014  • Jessica Puckett, Aspen Institute College Journalism Scholar

During a conversation with IDEO partner Fred Dust at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, IDEO partner and Creative Confidence author Tom Kelleysuggested that all humans have a natural ability to come up with creative ideas. Although some people might have unwittingly suppressed this skill, everyone can unleash it by finding the creative confidence to voice ideas. To illustrate mankind’s innate creativity, Kelley points to kindergarten students. In kindergarten, everyone considers him or herself an artist. This notion slowly dwindles away because most people are afraid of judgment and failure. That’s where the mindset of creative confidence steps in. 

One strategy for unlocking creativity is to practice “relaxed attention,” which is, perhaps, a rebranded version of daydreaming. To harness the power of relaxed attention, Kelley suggests considering a problem at a time when your mind is idle, such as in the shower or after waking up. 

Kelley also spoke of creativity’s role in innovation and how to use it as a tool to prevent a company’s disruption by a competitor. Companies, he says, are like dinosaurs. If they don’t continue to innovate and creatively adapt to the changing world around them, they will die out.