When can you call yourself creative?

Calling yourself “creative” is certainly a popular thing to do.

Creativity is – after-all – a much-needed resource.

But when everyone believes they’re creative, the word becomes diluted. Confusion sets in. What does it truly mean to be creative?

Is it enough to be a designer or musician? If I pickup a marker and write some fancy words, will that make more a creative? Is the man who doodles sketches in his notebook during boring meetings more or less creative than the team of engineers who produce revolutionary rechargeable car batteries? Whose to say?

Ultimately being “creative” requires that you produce ideas that are original and valuable, of course. But when nothing is original and when we’re forced to ask: “valuable for who?” calling yourself creative becomes muddy water.

So, is it fair to call yourself a creative if you haven’t invented a new standard for tech production? Can a starving artist who sells only one painting a year (for just a few bucks, nonetheless) still be considered creative? What about the amateur writer without a book deal, or even really a completed chapter, is she creative too?

I’m going to say yes, as long as the thinking is there.

Steve Jobs was right all along: creativity isn’t about revolutionizing the world, it’s about thinking different. If you just so happen to invent something world-changing or create a masterpiece that sells for millions of dollars, that’s just icing on the cake.

But if you have the guts to pursue the path least followed, to ask questions nobody is asking, to daydream and doodle and sing and design like nobody else is, go ahead and call yourself creative. If that’s the case, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course you’re creative.