Creativity requires courage

The word “Creativity” is perhaps a conflation of “Create” and “Vital” and may be considered as a triad of curiosity, ideas, and courage. Yes, creativity requires courage. Creativity and courage are intimately connected in a synergic relationship: creativity feeds courage and courage brings creativity to life.  Courage takes your dreams from wish and fantasy and transforms them into reality.  Being Creative is just how one is capable of thinking out of the box and looking at the problems in a new way, with an open mind, which others may not have perceived and presented to the world. An important component of this social and economic metamorphosis is courage. One needs to have the courage to be creative. Courage is an energy that you can connect with when you find comfort in your fears, insecurities, or anxieties.

Let me elucidate what courage means as a child (student) and an adult (teacher). In a Canadian school, during an essay competition, the topic given was Courage.  Many children expressed their own views on courage by writing details on it, its importance, advantages and so forth. Some expressed their views in 150 words while others even crossed 200 words and few reached 300 words. There was one ingenious child, who astonished everyone by just writing, “This is Courage!” and left the thick answer paper blank. When the teachers started evaluating the script they found this amazing essay written just in three words and were surprised and perplexed by the boy’s boldness and his courage. Yes, this is courage! The teachers after a lot of thinking and analysis were bold enough to select this young creative boy, who had the courage to express his idea on courage in his own creative way, as the winner of the competition. The boy later turned out to be a genius and a successful entrepreneur. In this part of the world, do we have teachers and students who would exhibit such courage? I keep it for your imagination.

In Gujarat, once there was a brainstorming open session organised by the association of electrical and electronic appliance manufacturers. They had invited big shorts and experts from the corporate world to obtain creative ideas on improving the designs of some electrical and electronic appliances. Some school children were also invited to the session. Many suggestions came forth for design and efficiency improvement of these appliances. The experts from the fan industry also gave different ideas for improving the efficiency of ceiling fans. Then it was the turn of school children to give ideas. A sixth standard creative boy stood up among the large audience, and with his innocence voice gave a stunning statement which made the huge audience dead silence and astonished. The innovative proclamation posed by the creative mind was, “can we manufacture a fan, which can end suicides and save lives in our country? Everyone among the audience was moved by the thoughts of the child. A loud applaud followed a moment of silence. Such a suggestion had never come to anyone’s mind in the past, including big corporate stalwarts, designers and engineers. His creative idea was appreciated and was eventually passed to the research and design department of Usha fan manufacturers where presently the idea is at the product development phase, and the designers are considering how to make a fan to collapse on weight bearing.

To be successful, it needs courage. Sometimes courage can be obscured by fears, self-doubts, and anxieties of throbbing early experiences of you daring to show up – which you may or may not be aware of.  Perhaps no one encouraged you, as a child, to take on challenges so you can find your courage.  Or perhaps fear was instilled in you, right when you dared to take on a challenge, or you were rebuked or laughed at for a bold statement you made in the class. Now lastly, as a student, a teacher or as a parent, we all need to honestly self introspect ourselves and pose a question, is our education system ideally designed for the young ones to be courageous, in order to promote creativity and innovations? I leave the answer to the education policymakers, parents, teachers and all other.

The author is the head of IIED Centre at NIT, Srinagar