52 Traits of Creative Thinking
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Which of these Traits, Habits or Strengths do You Believe You Have?
1.Abstract – can easily think abstractly
2.Adaptable – you can adapt in most to all situations
3.Breakthrough thinking – you often can think in ways that break away, from, through the current, past, traditional thinking in your profession, family, occupation, culture.
4.Change of Context – can easily change contexts to examine challenges from a few to many different one.s
5.Combination of Ideas/Facts – can easily combine ideas to generate new ones or combine seemingly unrelated Facts
6.Curious – strive to learn
7.Divergent thinker – easily think differently than others
8.Elaborative – in drawing, speaking – use lots of adjectives, details, examples, options
9.Energetic – normally energetic or can become instantly
10.Fantasize, able to – use your imagination
11.Fantasy life when young – used your ability to fantasize when you were young
12.Feelings & Emotions, expresses – easily can express these
13.Feelings & Emotions, senses – can sense the feelings or emotions of others or situations
14.Flexible in problem situations – can easily approach a problem situation in multiple ways
15.Flexible thinker – not rigid, open-minded, can change your thinking easily
16.Fluent – produces many ideas – you are not a ONE IDEA/ANSWER person, nor a BLACK & WHITE, RIGHT/WRONG thinker
17.Future oriented – often think about how what you are doing will impact the future
18.Humor, unique sense of – many things make you laugh that are different than other people
19.Humor, varied sense of – you find many things humorous or funny
20.Humorous Perspective – you often take humorous viewpoints or see THE FUNNY or MAKE THE FUNNY in any situation.
21.Idealistic – strive for the idealistic more than the realistic
22.Imaginative – can easily pretend, see things that do not exist
23.Independent – think, act, behave from your own perspective, point of view, attitude
24.Ingenious – come up with solutions others rarely do.
25.Learning, always – enjoy learning as part of every dy
26.Movement & Sound (Sense change) – can easily sense any type of change in movement or sound
27.Multiple Idea Combinations – easily can combine ideas is many ways
28.Non-conforming – deliberately choose to do things differently than is standard or usual
29.Not motivated by money – money is not what drives you to choose or do what you do
30.Observant, highly – you see much more than most people
31.Open-ended – you are not fixed in your thinking.
32.Openness-resisting early completion – do not go for the immediate automatic answer
33.Original – uniqueness – your goal is to be unique, novel, unusual, not typical
34.Passionate about their work – you choose to do what you do because you enjoy doing it.
35.Perceives world differently – rarely see the world in standard ways or as the CROWD does.
36.Perspective, Internal – easily sees into problems & things
37.Perspective, Macro Scale [seeing from larger view]
38.Provocative Viewpoint, takes –
39.Question asker – you are known to ask many questions
40.Richness & Colorful Detail in thinking and communicating
41.See possibilities when most do not
42.Self- knowledgeable – self-reflect, spend much time examining your life past, present, future
43.Self-actualizing – you strive to develop your talents, abilities, knowledge, experiences
44.Self-disciplined – you motivate yourself, guide yourself
45.Sense of destiny – perhaps believe your life has a reason for being
46.Sensitive – you are open to being empathetic or sympathetic and supportive
47.Severely critical: self, work, potential-passion – & potential of other people – you are your strongest judge and critic and are critical of other people who do not try very hard.
48.Specific interests – may have specific interests you follow intensely and extensively
49.Synthesize correctly, often intuitively – see solutions before all the facts are available, can see the complete puzzle or picture with only a few pieces.
50.Tolerant of ambiguity – accept that there are potentially many different answers that may contrast, contradict some of the others.
51.Unusual Viewpoint, see easily
52.Visualize – sensory or imaginary/intuitive – you can VISUALIZE or IMAGINE or SENSE
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BROKEN CRAYONS and the act of BREAKING CRAYONS represent creativeness, creative thinking and the efforts of creative people to me.
How often do you BREAK CRAYONS? Lets take a look. The following is a short exercise that will help you discover how easily you BREAK CRAYONS.
Are You a Crayon BREAKER?
Read over the following 32 human traits and check or mark the ones you believe are you at work or school, if you are not working full-time. You may choose as many or as few as you want. Some definitions are provided for words that are often mis-understood or may be unfamiliar to you.
Once you have completed reading and marking your choices total up how many you chose and write that number down. Then continue reading.
you see patterns or the big picture quickly
look at things in many different ways at the same time
willing to try things in many different ways
produce lots of ideas or possibilities when working on a challenge or simply choosing a restaurant to go to.
don’t fix on a single idea, keep looking for many different ideas or ways to do things.
focus on developing yourself to the best you can be and to discover your specific unique talents.
sense of destiny
believe that you have a special mission or purpose in life you plan or hope to fulfill.
tolerant of ambiguity
accept multiple answers or causes to a single problem or challenge.
How many did you mark? 5, 10, 15, 20, all of them? Occasionally people will mark all of them if they dont feel intimated by others in the group or by me.
Each of these traits, if emphasized mildly to strongly, will help you be more creative. Any of these, if emphasized extremely, could yield disastrous results. Number 28 is often one that people do not mark because of the feeling of the word severely. But think about it. Arent highly creative people extremely critical? When they are, what are they most critical of?
Themselves or their work. Often they are their own worst critics (or enemies).
Now lets look at how each of the traits can help you be more creative and become a true and effective CRAYON BREAKER. Look specifically at which ones you marked and then at the ones you didnt mark? Often we dont mark certain ones or choose to exercise certain ones because of the potential negative results the can produce for us with other people.
In 1980 I discovered 32 traits of HIGHLY CREATIVE PEOPLE that I have used as an exercise to convince people that they are more creative than they usually believe that they are. About ten years ago I combined my 32 (1980) with Dr. E. Paul Torrance’s 20 (TTCT measurable variables) to create a working list of 52 Learnable traits that can enhance, expand, enrich all of our creativity, creativeness and creative thinking skills.
Here is the total list followed by suggestions about how to use them at work, in school and in your life in general.
Being sensitive helps creativeness in many ways:
a. it helps with awareness of problems, known & unknown
b. it helps people sense things easier
c. it helps to cause people to care and commit themselves to challenges or causes.
2. not motivated by money
As important as money is in most societies or economies it is not a driving force for a creative person. Generally they have an intuitive sense of the amount of money they basically need and once that need is fulfilled then money stops affecting or driving them.
3. sense of destiny
Intuitively creative people know that they have a purpose, a destiny or they realize that they can choose or create one to drive them to reach greater heights of skill, ability, or talent.
Without the ability to adapt people could not become creative. But rather than adapt to something they choose to adapt things to suit them, their needs or the goals they are striving towards.
5. tolerant of ambiguity
Two or more things or ideas being right at the same time challenges the thinking of a creative person. They love to be ambiguous to challenge other people and ideas. Ambiguity helps them see things from many different perspectives all at the same time.
Creative people constantly are using their senses: consciously, sub-consciously and unconsciously, even non-consciously.
7. perceive world differently
Thoreau talked about people drumming to a different drum beat. Creative people thrive on multiple ways of perceiving: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, sensing things. These different perspectives open up their minds to unlimited possibilities.
8. see possibilities
Average people, people who dont believe they are creative, people who are fearful or resistant to creativeness or creative thinking prefer to work within limits with limited possibilities. Creative people love to see many, even infinite possibilities in most situations or challenges.
9. question asker
Creative people, especially highly creatives, probably came out of their mothers wombs asking questions. Its in their nature to question. Question yes, not actually criticize. Their questioning nature often mistakenly appears as criticism when it is simply questioning, exploring, examining, playing with things as they are or might be.
10. can synthesize correctly often intuitively
This is the ability to see the whole picture, see patterns, grasp solutions with only a few pieces, even with major pieces missing. Creative people trust their intuition, even if it isnt right 100% of the time.
11. able to fantasize
Stop looking out the window Billy. Susie pay attention. Teachers, parents, and even friends often tell creative people this. Highly creative people love to wander through their own imaginary worlds. This is one of the major themes of the very popular cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes. Both Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin’s alter ego?) are perpetual CRAYON BREAKERS.
Creative People are very flexible when they are playing with ideas. They love to look at things from multiple points of view and to produce piles of answers, maybes, almosts, when other people are content with the or an answer or solution.
It could be a door stop, a boat anchor, a weapon, a prop, a weight for holding down papers, etc., etc., etc. This is what a creative person would say about the possible uses of a brick.
Creative people love to use their imagination to play to make seem real to experiment.
The more creative a person is the more they tap their intuition skills; the abilities to see answers with minimum facts, to sense problems even when they arent happening.
Being original is a driving force for creative people. They thrive on it.
Doing the unusual. Solving unsolvable problems. Thinking what has never been thought of before. These are all traits of a creative person that make them be ingenious at times.
Challenges, problems, new ideas once committed to by a creative person truly excite them and provide them with seeming unlimited amounts of energy; such as Sherlock Holmes once he grasps a sense of the mystery.
19. sense of humor
Laughter and creativity truly go together. Many experts believe that creativity cant occur without a touch of humor believing that seriousness tends to squelch creativeness or creative thinking.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow created this term in the 1960s representing the ultimate motivator of people the need or desire to be all you can be, to be what you were meant to be.
This is one trait that appears to be ambiguous in highly creative people. They can appear disorganized, chaotic at times while at the same time they are highly self-disciplined. At the same time the greatly resist the discipline of other people who are not of like creative mind.
During my life I have read biographies and biographic sketches or over 4,000 people, mostly considered to be the highest of the highly creatives in their respective fields. One of the few things they had in common is that they all kept some form of journal and were constantly striving to better understand themselves.
23. specific interests
This is still another ambiguous trait of creative people. They appear on the surface to be interested in everything, while at the same time they have very specific interests that they commit their true energies and efforts to. By being willing to be exposed to seemingly unlimited interests they discover more about their particular specific interests.
24. divergent thinker
Creative people love to diverge from the norm, to look at things from multiple positions, to challenge anything that exists. Because of this they are seen at times to be off-key, deviant, atypical, irregular, or uncharacteristic.
Like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland, creative people are continuously curious, often child-like.
In order to explore many possibilities creative people tend to stay open-ended about answers or solutions until many have been produced.
Creative people crave and require a high degree of independence, resist dependence but often can thrive on beneficial inter-dependence.
28. severely critical
Yes creative people challenge most everything, every idea, every rule. They challenge, challenge, and challenge some more to the point that most other people see their challenging as severe criticism
Conforming is the antithesis, the opposite of creativeness and in order to be creative, creative people must be non-conforming and go against the norm, swim up stream.
This is another ambiguous trait in creative people. When they are at their most creative they are extremely confident. When they are in a stage of frustration when nothing seems to be working they often lack confidence. After much positive experience they begin to trust themselves and know that they will become depressed, frustrated nearly devastated but their internal sub-conscious confidence keeps them moving or at least floating until they experience or discover an aha! (a breakthrough idea or piece of information)
31. risk taker
This trait is a general mis-understanding of many non-creative people or people who fear the creativeness of creative people. Highly creative people are not really risktakers because they do not see what they are doing as a risk. They simply see it as a possible solution or path towards a solution. They have other possible solutions, often many others in their head or their notes to use if a particular idea or solution does work. As Thomas Edison once said when asked how it felt to have failed nearly 7,000 times trying to discover the best filament for an incandescent light bulb, those are not failures, they are solutions to problems I havent started working on yet.
Charles Goodyear (discover & inventor of vulcanized rubber) and Chester Carlson (inventor of electrostatic copying, the Xerox process: xerography) are two of the best examples of this trait in creative people. Both of them worked over 30 years trying to make a solution they discovered work. Creative people do not give up on things that mean a lot to them.
The more of the 32 traits you choose the more creative you are or you have the potential to be or become. And the more potentially you are a CRAYON BREAKER.
How many of the traits did you first mark as fitting you? The more you mark or use the greater you will be able to capitalize on your natural creativeness. Some of them you may use at work, some at home, some at school. Ask yourself why? Are there some barriers that prevent you from using some of the traits anywhere you choose?
I have found that some times it is helpful to deliberately practice particular traits to release my creativeness when I am feeling stale, dull, or blocked. We all experience creative block at times. The causes may be situational, physical, emotional, mental, relational or even undefinable.
Recognize which of the 32 are natural to you. Accept the ones that may be causing you difficulty at work. Then focus on strengthening the ones you enjoy the most and especially the ones supported in your workplace.
Best wishes in the continual growth and use of your natural creative potential.
Robert Alan Black, Ph.D., CSP
Creative Thinking Consultant, Creative Problem Solver, Idea Generator, Creativity speaker and consultan