Welcome to Defining Creativity, a podcast where we explore where and how creativity is found. I’m Debbi Ponella, a creativity researcher, cellist, teacher, author, accidental entrepreneur, and a member of an incredible family and community, both local and global. My background is in the humanities, so I naturally have an artistic view of creativity. However, I have never thought that creativity is relegated to the arts—it’s not relevant only in specific professions or found only in certain types of people. In fact, it’s fascinating to realize how creativity is used across disciplines, in small or far-reaching ways.
This podcast is the result of my search to discover the myriad ways creativity manifests itself in individuals and though I do interview musicians, artists, and writers, the goal is to include as many people from different walks of life as possible and to discover real life examples of creativity. I have spoken with hundreds of people regarding creativity, from artists, teachers, chefs, to politicians, professional athletes, and those in the medical, business, technology, or judicial fields. Interestingly, it’s not always the people you might think who embrace their own creativity. So many musicians have told me that they don’t feel like they are creative—they merely play the notes on the page in the tempo indicated—oftentimes by a conductor—with even dynamics and phrasing dictated by the composer. Other groups of people who have regularly told me that they aren’t creative and really can’t be creative in their work are those in the medical profession. A s we dig deeper in conversation, though, these are often some of the most creative people and it is fascinating to peel away the layers and find that creativity at the core of how they approach life.
Of course, there are those across demographics, professions, and generations who embrace their creativity and are so inspirational in their visions and accomplishments. What sparks creativity can come from unexpected sources—for example, some of the people I interviewed grew up behind the iron curtain and credit living in those difficult circumstances with a necessity to develop creativity. Truly, my understanding has broadened with each conversation. If asked today, my academic definition of creativity would be the following: I believe that creativity is an inherently human trait. It exists within all of us. Creativity is a basic instinct to make something novel and share our voice. Creativity is an expression of our personality and the way we see the world. It is uniquely individual in that no other person brings the same experience and knowledge to any moment.
However, that definition is ever evolving and is not, and cannot be, the same as anyone else’s definition. Creativity is itself so unique, that there may be as many definitions as people to define it—but I am going to keep on trying and I hope you will join me in this journey.