What is creativity?

yellow word creativity with grey question mark behind

What does creativity mean to you? 

Over the past few months I’ve been taking every opportunity to ask accountants I’m talking with every day about how they see or define creativity. 

As I read through, or listened to, the answers, a few themes keep appearing: 

  • It comes naturally, and it’s also hard work
  • It’s a muscle you need to exercise or it begins to fade
  • It involves curiosity, and asking endless questions – not merely taking the first answer
  • It involves space and room to let things simmer and shift 
  • There’s a connection to how we see the world 
  • It involves freedom, and openness. It allows for more freedom to be found 

If you’re not yet on the waiting list for my book “Accountants, You Are Creative Too”, so you can be one of the first to read the intro and first chapter, sign up for that here.

Here are the words from accountants: 

“It’s something that when you see in other people, it looks like magic and you put them on a pedestal, but the reality is, it’s just a lot of hard work. Creativity for me was that i enjoyed making videos, so I made a bunch of them. They were really bad, and nobody watched them! And now they’re okay, and everyone says ‘you’re so creative’. Creativity to me is a product of finding something you love, so you become good at it, but I try not to put people on a pedestal, because anybody can be creative.”  – Jason Staats, CPA


Creativity fundamentally is the ability to think divergently, to think in all sorts of different ways. One of the challenges is that school teaches that out of us: kids have that naturally, and by the time they’ve gone through the school system, 98% of children have lost that capability. But it sits within us. And pone of the best ways you can reengage that is to lean into your curiosity, and you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable in that space. But ask questions. Engage your inner five year old. The more questions you ask, the more comfortable you get doing that and just not accepting things. The ability to be curious will enable you to be more creative.” Alasdair McGill, Ashton McGill


“For me it’s always been historical: you’re either science led or arts led, and if you’re arts led you’re more creative. I juggled with that for a long time. I think they can co-exist and should co-exist, and that’s why I set up my business, to be creative around my business but provide an analytical service.” – Lauren Harvey, Full Stop


“Creativity is about the freedom to think in a way that is natural to you, to solve a problem.” – Steve Kreeger, Shapes


“For me, creativity is a flow. It’s how you get your brand out in emotions. It’s how you connect with people. When you pick a colour, what does that colour mean to you, what emotions does it bring up. It’s something you’re passionate about and it comes naturally.” – Lucy Johnson, Simplex


“Thinking outside the box. Thinking of different ways to solve problems and reach your audience.” – Cheryl Sharp, Pink Pig


“Being able to go from the initial idea all the way to the end, and do it well.” – Ann Spickett, Total Accounting


“We dabbled with the idea of having ‘creative’ as a value for us, and the challenge i gave my business partner was to come up with a ‘more creative word than creative’. I think it’s always asking that extra question, rather than defining something. What actually is the thing behind the thing that you’re trying to get to? We ended up with the word energy as our value: the idea creativity should be a spark.” – Jim Leeves, Shapes


“Creativity is a mindset of believing that you can create something worthwhile. Creativity is too often confused with originality. To the contrary, creativity is simple curiosity. It’s merely observing your world, taking away the things you like and mixing them in your own way to create something new and improved. With some luck, your creation will be observed by someone else who will improve it even more.” – Hillary Colvin, Colvin CPA


Approaching something from a unique angle that adds your own spice to the concept.”Chris Jones, Westbound HQ


“It’s means having an innate ability to create new things out of non-existent things. Like creating a marketing plan, a new accounting service, a webinar, or a book! I believe our creativity is trained and that we get better at the effort of being creative over time.” – Jason Blumer, Blumer CPAs


“The ability to look beyond the 2D picture and see something in 3D. Being able to see past the basic premise of a question to derive what is actually being asked, or at the very least, being able to answer that question in a way that wasn’t expected when it was asked. I think creativity and curiosity go hand-in-hand. Creativity is spurred by taking a beat and thinking before answering as opposed to just saying the first thing that comes to mind. I think creativity is learned and honed through practice, but it also helps to be born with creative bones. For instance, I’m a CPA but I also play guitar, learned to play piano, and was considered creative as a child.” – Jon Godwin, Godwin CPA


“Blue sky thinking, but in the first instance it involves having space and time. We can be creative in terms of how we run our business, how we serve our customers with the best experience possible, how we reach our ideal customers, how we attract and convert, how we engage our team, how we utilise every-changing tech, and how we keep up to date with the latest law and trends that affect us and our customers. This is why “creativity” means space to breathe, time to think, to wonder, to draw out ideas.” – Kieran Phelan, Satori Accounting, Northern Ireland


“Creativity means that in any situation I’m in, I’m unafraid to find the non-obvious solution. Creation means to reorder the inputs you’re given and make something new where once there was nothing. Those who aren’t trained in creativity will look at a problem, and conclude it’s unsolvable. Creative people will continue to tweak the parameters of the problem until they come to a solution. I don’t believe there is anyone that is 100% not a creative person. First off, we are all creative with different skills. Someone can see a cabinet in a pile of wood, another can see a painting in a bunch of spray cans, someone else can see a business in a set of transactions. Second, creativity is a muscle that you have to flex. The more you use it, the more likely you are to turn to it.” – Barrett Young, GWCPAs


“Ohhh Creativity is the colourful way we think and feel and experience the world. It involves thinking outside the box, and being planted firmly in a direction. It’s inspiration and practicality all in one package..” – Rebecca Casarez


“Creativity is a process of self-discovery, authenticity, and the importance of tapping into one’s inner voice or true self.” – Scotty Scarano


Turning your thoughts and dreams into something real to share with others.” – Michaela Hippey, Hippey Accountancy


Freedom of mind and spirit to create something out of ‘nothing’ – or something new out of something which already exists.” – Julie Shipp, Blumer CPAs


“To me creativity revolves around problem solving and creating connections with people.” – Randy Crabtree


“Freedom of expression, in whatever form it takes.” – Scott Johnson, Kung Fu Accounting


How about you? How would you define or describe creativity? 

Have your say: Add your definition here

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