This article was based on an interview I conducted with Chase Jarvis. Chase is a world famous photographer, entrepreneur, and author of the new book Creative Calling.
Chase Jarvis is an award winning artis, entrepreneur and an extremely influential photographer.
Chase has created ads for Nike, Apple, Red Bull, received an Emmy nomination for his documentary Portrait of a City. Chase is the founder of CreativeLive where more than 10 million students learn various creative skills. He is also the author of Creative Calling, a new book about being creative and finding your calling.
This interview is going to focus on Chase’s own experience with creativity, and share with you some insights about where he gets inspired and how he finds his drive.
I start by exploring how Chase formed his views on creativity, and then explain why these insights are practical and applicable to everyone.
Chase’s Creative History
Chase has a very important piece of insight that guides his thinking on creativity – we are all creative. However, a big problem is that many of us are labelled from a young age as “creatives” or “non-creatives”. These are the labels Chase believes can be damaging to our creative potential. Take Chase’s example:
Chase was in second grade and had just made his first film with his friends. He had a neighbourhood production and even sold candy to the premiere. However, he was also a very good athlete, and his teacher recommended to his parents that he focus on sports, as she was trying to guide him towards what she believed was his top potential.
Chase followed this path for a long time, becoming a very accomplished soccer player, and even taking a soccer scholarship and having the opportunity to play professionally. After his soccer career, he inherited some cameras from his grandfather, and his passion was rekindled for the arts and creativity, a passion that had long since been pushed aside.
This taught Chase a very important lesson, and perhaps what would become a guiding principle in his outlook on creativity as a whole. This lesson was:
We Need to Avoid Labels
There are many labels people give us from a young age. Teachers, parents, or any other influential figures try to place labels on us in areas where they think we will excel. They certainly mean no harm to us, but are trying to steer us to where they think we will succeed.
However, the result is that we are labeled early in life as creative or not creative. And like it did with Chase, these labels heavily influence those areas that we strive for. These labels do not define us, and Chase wants people to understand a few very important things about creativity:
- Every person is creative: We need to understand that everyone is creative. If you ask a Grade 1 class if someone wants to draw a picture on the chalkboard, everyone raises their hand. Somewhere along the line that is trained out of us.
- We are all different, and we might not be creative in the same ways, but something as simple as choosing what to make for dinner is creativity, and you need to embrace this agency in your life.
- Any choice you make in your life is creative, so embrace it.
- Creativity is a habit, not a skill: It is a process. If you use it more, you build it and become better. It is a conscious choice to evaluate each decision and put creative twists on them, a choice which eventually becomes a habit.
So, now that you see how harmful these labels can be to our creative potential, try to take time to reflect based on this advice. What labels have you been given in life, what did people tell you you were good at? Did they stick? Are you still living these?
We need to realize the profound effect that these labels had on our development and might still have on us today. We can embrace the fact that we are more than these labels, we can be creative no matter what label we’ve worn.
Additionally, being creativity isn’t restricted to activities we might typically describe as creative – drawing, painting, music, etc. When we say that everyone can be creative, we take a broad view on creativity, and this can be the key to unlocking our potential.
What is Creativity?
Chase has his own, dare I say creative, definition of creativity. For him, creativity is when you take two or more things that used to not go together, and put them together in a new and useful way. What you start to understand is that creativity is not about changing your entire life or career. It is just something that you embrace in your own life, that you are already constantly being creative, and there are so many more opportunities to be creative than we think.
With this thinking, you can make some key and profound changes in your life. These include:
By embracing this definition of creativity, we truly see how much agency we have in our lives. We see that we are the ones who make all our choices and that we create these opportunities for ourselves. We see that we are creative every single day, and by seeing this we get a whole new perspective on the true level of control we have and what we could have as well.
We can become inspired by the very fact that we create all these new possibilities in our lives, even if it’s as simple as cooking a new meal! Once we step out of these habits or these labels that have been placed on us, we will see the true level of control we have over our decisions.
How do we do this, how do we embrace our creativity? How do we make this change?
It’s great to get advice from parents, friends, spouses, and counsellors. But at the end of the day we need to develop a way to listen to ourselves. We have an inner voice, and it might be hard to find, but if you do, you can learn to identify what you really want.
Like I said above, this is a habit, it is not a skill. You need to train yourself to embrace this creativity and listen to this intuition. Over time you will become more comfortable making these choices because you will realize how much variety they add to your life.
Once you know and truly believe that you are creative. Once it becomes a habit, you will realize that you can use it in any aspect of your life.
You can use it to spice up any decision you make, which in the long run might lead to even bigger decisions. You will see that people who are living their dreams didn’t get there by accident, it was design and on purpose. Creativity in making their decisions got them there, and this is available to you right now.
Chase wants us to redefine creativity. Creativity isn’t just being an artist or being a musician. Creativity transforms our lives, and is central in every choice we make.
We need to stop seeing it as a facet of our lives that is unattainable just because we have been labelled as a non-creative. Everything we do we are creating something, so why not embrace this and create a life that makes you happy?
About Vanessa Van Edwards
Lead Investigator, Science of People
I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.
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