What’s the Connection Between Creativity and Personal Development?

We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.  Or rather, we get educated out of it. – Sir Ken Robinson, TED 2006

Sir Ken Robinson, speaking at TED 2006

Is there a relationship between creativity and personal development?

It’s been on my mind recently, thanks to news stories and blog postings I’ve read about motivating creativity in poor economic times, creativity in business, and creativity and innovation.

In addition, my wife and I were just discussing how we can better foster an environment of creativity for our kids, whom we home school.

Somehow, in the last week or two, I ran across a very thought-provoking video of Sir Ken Robinson speaking at TED.  I think I found it because someone tweeted it on Twitter, and I’m very glad they did! By the way, you can follow me on Twitter: @RichAvery.

In the video, Sir Ken makes the assertion that schools and businesses kill creativity.  For our society to succeed at meeting it’s greatest challenges, we must embrace learning styles that nurture and foster individual creativity. He said:

Picasso once said, “All children are born artists.”  The problem is to remain an artist…We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.  Or rather, we get educated out of it.

Sir Ken defined creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value.  He went on to say that we are educating people out of their creative capacities because we’re afraid to make mistakes.  We used to learn and grow by taking risks, being very creative, and making mistakes which we learn from.  Today, in the the education system and corporations, the worst thing you can do is make a mistake.

I highly recommend you watch this video – just click the link or photo above.  It’s only 20 minutes, and Sir Ken is a very funny and engaging speaker.

Here are some of my thoughts and take-aways:

  • Many people learn best through hands-on creative activity, not just by reading a book or hearing a lecture.
  • Seems like when most people think about personal growth and development, they really mean ways to improve their career and finances.  How many instead seek to develop their creative capacity?
  • How many people are pursuing someone else’s dream instead of their own?  How many were told they’d never make it, or never make any money, as an artist, musician, writer or designer?
  • How much stress, and work-life unbalance, is created in people who are forced to learn and work in environments that stifle their creativity?
  • Can creative hobbies foster greater work-life balance in a person’s life?
  • Does our society place more importance on intellectual capacity instead of creative capacity?
  • If so, then what are we missing if we just focus on the intellectual and not the creative?
  • How can I foster more creativity in my life, work, and children?

Do you think Sir Ken is right, based on your own experience at school and work?  Please share your thoughts.

And while you do that, I’m going to take my kids to the Grand Rapids Art Museum for a little creative inspiration.

Recommended Reading:


  1. Hi RichAvery,
    I saw Robinson’s TED talk and found it very interesting.
    I think children are reprogrammed to see only value in what they can remember. Rather than what can also be found inside them. Yet when children are taught to use their own strategies to find their own creative solutions, they actually love to learn again.
    And when they are engage in hands-on, interactive learning, their love for learning new things goes up another notch. I think kids get bored in school because they can’t see why they have to remember stuff that they can’t touch or explore. Kids should be praised for how they learn things, not just for how much they can absorb.
    Personally, when I was in school, I was either bored or confused most of the time. So a drew pictures any chance I could get. So I didn’t learn too much but I sure learnt a lot about myself and developed an intense curiosity about the world around me. So I am still learning and I still love learning new things.
    Thanks Rich for your post.
    Steve Supple.

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