Tony Cullingham

Watford Advertising

Are You Creative?

There are two types of creative people.

There are the creatives who say they are creative .

 And there are those who simply say nothing and create. 

Being a creative  is  not  a lifestyle. It's a necessity. It is something you just have to do.

Without the feeding and subsequent  production and manifestation of your imagination

(ideas), the  creative spirit will simply wither and die.

True creatives look for opportunities  everywhere and continually create ideas.

A pottery tutor at the college had exhibited a series of  ceramic plates in reception and

in fear of his exhibits been stolen had placed a sign which said, 


Another tutor  on passing the exhibition wrote on a piece of paper the word THANKS

and left it on the floor next to the ceramic plates. Every time the tutor walked passed he

left the word THANKS.

Students joined in and in no time at all there was a pile of assorted pieces of paper,

cardboard, ripped corners of newspapers all displaying one word. 


The pile of THANKS became so high it  became an exhibit  itself.

It won a commendation from the judges who applauded the observation, wit and

spontaneity of the piece.

This is creative.

One errant full stop was all that was needed to ignite the imagination of the passer-by.

The passer-by now runs a successful creative consultancy in Washington USA and is no

longer a tutor at West Herts College.


 The Creative Spirit.

 The Creative Spirit is made up of 4 elements.

Each element must be exercised and developed every day of your life so that the

synergy between each element becomes stronger. 

The 4 elements are:



Energy is the spark that ignites you. 

 Without sufficient mental energy, your creative pursuits suffer from flaws,

caused by faulty logic. 

With sufficient physical energy, your creative ideas don’t get put into motion or

remain in the closet to gather dust. 

In a sense, all creativity begins as pure energy because the ideas that compose

your creative thinking are nothing more than electrical impulses in your brain. 

Without energy  creativity is impossible.

The term energy also relates to the degree of passion you bring to everything

you do. 

When you are fascinated by a project, or personally invested in a subject or

task, you feel charged and exuberant. 

You are able to summon up as much energy as it takes to complete the job

because the energy you invest is repaid by results and positive feedback. 

The more you love something, the more energy you will have to dedicate to it,

and so the more creative you will be. 

When you are not energetic, the whole process may seem like a struggle, and

your creativity will take a dive.

Dave Trott best sums it up when he says that 'Energy is more important than talent'.

As a young writer at BMP he cottoned on to the fact that if he wrote 4 times as many

ads as the best team he would get one ad made. If he wrote 8 times as many ads as the

best team he would get two ads made.

Soon he was making  more ads than the best team in the agency.

Energy is the force that drives you to write 6 campaigns when the the creative director

asks for one.

Energy is what keeps you up all night writing great ideas that get bought the next

morning while the charlatans are in the pub.

Energy is what gets you to the top and keeps you there.

The Beatles played 3 gigs a day, 7 days a week in Hamburg.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made nearly 200 films as individuals before they made a

film together.

Stephen King's first published novel was the 17th book he'd written.

Whatever you do you need ENERGY.

You won't get anywhere without it. You may be the most interesting and talented  person

around but it means very little unless you back it up with ENERGY. 

You might get a job in advertising .

You might even write one or two decent ads.

But you won't make your mark on the business without ENERGY.


 Openness is a vital quality of the creative spirit.

It is by being open that you are able to accept new ideas and incorporate them

into your thinking. 

If you subscribe only to your trusted beliefs, you never challenge yourself to

look outside or go beyond.

Creative people open themselves to new notions, people, places, and things. 

Creativity blooms when you build on the insights of others. 

If you shut out, ignore, or ridicule the ideas of others, you do not leave your

comfort zone to discover the larger world beyond.

Many people have a harder time being open than they do being curious. 

They are willing to explore, but as soon as they encounter a new idea they don’t

like, they close up and criticise it; they reject it rather than assimilate it. 

New ideas are like bad dreams: 

They can be difficult to understand and they may go against the grain of our

belief systems and thus frighten us.  

Openness also pertains to being aware of and “tuned in” to the coincidences of


A closed mind shuts out the chance meetings and events that often become

opportunities for discovery and invention.

As adults we can be suspicious. 'I don't trust you.  

We can be guarded. 

We can sink back into the shadows where we can be invisible and away from the social


Our egos can say, 'you are not looking at my idea You might pan it. You might nick it.

These are  all normal feelings.

They are also barriers to creativity.

THe creative soul needs to be out in the open.

Never be frightened of being embarrassed.

 3. RISK.

The  Creative Spirit  demands risk taking. 

Risk taking is tied to your comfort zone. 

If you are tolerant of risks, you give yourself permission to leave your comfort

zone to encounter new ideas, people, and information that can enhance your


If you are risk averse, you stay within your comfort zone, forsaking the potential

challenges that might inspire you to new ideas and experiences.

Creative risks can be grouped into  categories.

Leaping into the dark risk. 

You feel this type of risk instinctively, at the gut level. 

It arises from activities that get your adrenaline pumping, including physical

adventures (such as sky-diving and white-water rTempting the fates risk. 

You feel this risk when you want to do something creative but you have tried it

before and did not succeed, so you conclude that a second failure is

predestined.  Even though your rational mind tries to convince you of the folly

of your thinking, your psyche says otherwise.
Betting risk.    

This type of risk relates to winning or losing money

from your creative hunches.  People who are risk averse tend to invest their

money conservatively, while  those who are more tolerant of risk tend to be

more willing to game for high stakes.

Becoming a laughing stock risk. 

This type of risk is related to the fear of ridicule or rejection by others.  Many

creative ventures require you to make your work and ideas public.

Risk-tolerant people are willing to do this, while risk-averse people shy away

from it.



 The Creative Spirit first and foremost requires curiosity. 

Without an interest in what the world has to offer, what make things work, what

ideas others have, you have little reason to be creative. 

Curiosity is what prompts you to investigate new areas or look for a better way

to do something. 

Curiosity drives your urge to invent, to experiment, and to build.

As a child, you were perpetually curious. 

You questioned everything and answered your own questions with explanations

you invented or imagined.  

In adulthood, however, your curiosity has probably been dramatically reduced. 

The phrase “idle curiosity” suggests that such speculation and exploration is an

indulgence.  A pointless pastime with no real purpose, as opposed to useful


Your curiosity may also be tempered by resignation,

“Oh, I’ll never understand how computers work”,

Or by time constraints,

“I’d love to learn to cook, but my girlfriend does it so well, I’d do better to direct

my energies where they’d be more useful”. 

Fear, masquerading as “good sense”, may hold you back from jumping into

new situations or places.

Little by little, most adults draw lines around how far they are willing to go to

keep learning. 

We unconsciously construct a “comfort zone”, an area in which we feel safe but

beyond which we feel threatened and rarely if ever choose to explore. 

It becomes harder and harder to go outside our comfort zones, and the

boundaries of our lives eventually become firmly established. 

Our comfort zones translate into the routines of our lives-specific sets of

acceptable people, places, things, and ideas that become our territory.

In losing curiosity, though, you lose a large part of your ability to create. 

A life in which every event is routine does not generate the new ideas that

nourish your creative spirit. 

A routine life does not present you with occasions to meet new people or to

hear about new concepts.  It also does not provide you with new information

that might eventually contribute to your next brilliant idea.

Imagine the world, for example, if the following people had not channelled their

curiosity into creativity:

If Newton had simply thought to himself, “What was that?” when be observed an

apple fall from a branch, would the theory of gravity have developed in his


If Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming had simply washed them instead of

wondering why the laboratory petri dishes containing bacteria failed to show

growth when mold blew in an open window, would penicillin have been

discovered yet?