Can Creativity Be Learned?

The old nature vs nurture debate

If you read Malcolm Gladwell‘s book, Outliers:The Story of Success, you were left believing that if you put in 10,000 hours you could become proficient at almost anything. The idea made for a best selling book, but it wasn’t actually based on the latest neurological research.

Gladwell admitted as much when he stated, “Practice isn’t a sufficient condition for success. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be manifest. Even if one has talent, it must be cultivated,

The neurological truth is that “…creativity is closely linked with inherent neurological and personality traits rather than methodology or practice.”

In other words, “To truly be an artistic great, the makeup of your brain is more important than the number of hours spent in your atelier.

Why is this important?

Because Radio, as a medium, is suffering from its longest drought of creativity ever. The one undisputed outcome of radio consolidation has been the elimination of super-creatives within radio stations around America.

This is not true of radio around the world, as Sean Ross revealed in his column after spending some time listening to the biggest radio brands in Australia.

I’ve worked with some real super-creatives over the years, and you probably have too.

They’re different from “normal” co-workers. And I mean that in the best way, although they usually do require a different management style. They don’t react well to time pressure (usually, so false deadlines are a good idea), nor to threats. They need nurturing more than most.

If you are working in Radio today, there is something you can do to tease out every bit of native creativity in your brain.

Openess to new experiences” is the most salient personality trait seen in super-creatives. “Someone who has high openness has an active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, (and a) preference for variety, and intellectual curiousity.”

This super-creative trait also correlates closely with intelligence, as measured by standard IQ tests. Like speed, you can’t coach smarts; you either have it, or you don’t.

You’ve always known this. Some people are just better at consistently producing fantastic, winning ideas, over and over and over again.

We need to find a way to bring them back inside our stations.

How do you think that can happen given our current ownership?


If you’d like to read the Atlantic article that produced this post, click HERE.