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15 Creative Traits That You Can Master

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Imagine that you could build a human being from scratch and wanted to make sure that she’d turn out to be creative. What traits would you want to give her?

According to the creativity literature and my own observations, there are about 75 traits you’d want her to manifest, traits like self-trust, resiliency, tolerance for ambiguity, assertiveness, thoughtfulness, and a sense of humor.

Of course you’d have a tricky time getting these qualities together in just the right proportions. You’d want to make sure that her skepticism, which is a useful trait, didn’t slide into nihilism, that her love of goodness didn’t turn her into a patsy, and that her energy didn’t cross a line into mania. I think you can see how hard a job it would prove to effectively combine all of these traits, some of which contradict one another, into the same person.

Yet this is exactly what each of us must do if we are to be creative. We need to manifest the traits of a creative person, in the just the right combination and in just the right proportions. Naturally it’s too much to ask to have you sit down with a list of seventy-five traits and figure out how you might generate “more” of each trait. Tackling all 75 traits at once is a mind-boggling idea.

But working on one trait at a time is eminently doable.

The Short List of Creativity Traits

Below is a list of just 15 creative traits. Put it up on your mirror or at your desk and read it as part of a morning ritual in the service of your creative life. Say to yourself, “Today I’m going to being a little bit more assertive,” or “Today I’m going to give myself permission to be curious.” In this way you’ll turn yourself into the creative person you always hoped you’d become.

Asks “Why?” questions

Assertiveness

Concentration

Confidence

Curiosity

Energy

Flexibility

Intellectual playfulness

Openness to Experience

Passion

Resiliency

Self-Trust

Sense of Humor

Thoughtfulness

Tolerance for Ambiguity


Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is widely regarded as one of America’s foremost creativity coaches. His most recent book is Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions. To learn more about Dr. Maisel, visit www.ericmaisel.com

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Comments (5)

  • I love this article! We need to be open and intentional about living a creative life.

  • Did anyone else miss "imagination..?"

  • This is great! Imagination is a given...Susan, these are steps to homing it to be a shining instrument. Imagination is an "organ" rather than a trait.
    Thanks Eric

  • Imagine that you could build a human being from scratch and wanted to make sure that she’d turn out to be creative. What traits would you want to give her?

    According to the creativity literature and my own observations, there are about 75 traits you’d want her to manifest, traits like self-trust, resiliency, tolerance for ambiguity, assertiveness, thoughtfulness, and a sense of humor.

    Of course you’d have a tricky time getting these qualities together in just the right proportions. You’d want to make sure that her skepticism, which is a useful trait, didn’t slide into nihilism, that her love of goodness didn’t turn her into a patsy, and that her energy didn’t cross a line into mania. I think you can see how hard a job it would prove to effectively combine all of these traits, some of which contradict one another, into the same person.

    Yet this is exactly what each of us must do if we are to be creative. We need to manifest the traits of a creative person, in the just the right combination and in just the right proportions. Naturally it’s too much to ask to have you sit down with a list of seventy-five traits and figure out how you might generate “more” of each trait. Tackling all 75 traits at once is a mind-boggling idea.

    But working on one trait at a time is eminently doable.

    The Short List of Creativity Traits

    Below is a list of just 15 creative traits. Put it up on your mirror or at your desk and read it as part of a morning ritual in the service of your creative life. Say to yourself, “Today I’m going to being a little bit more assertive,” or “Today I’m going to give myself permission to be curious.” In this way you’ll turn yourself into the creative person you always hoped you’d become.

    Asks “Why?” questions

    Assertiveness

    Concentration

    Confidence

    Curiosity

    Energy

    Flexibility

    Intellectual playfulness

    Openness to Experience

    Passion

    Resiliency

    Self-Trust

    Sense of Humor

    Thoughtfulness

    Tolerance for Ambiguity

  • HaHa! I repeated your post! I Put a fake name!

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