Feeling burnt out? Exhausted and unmotivated? Even if you’re attempting to reach your business goals, you could still feel trapped and dragged down by the day-to-day doldrums. But external forces could be dragging you down rather than bringing you up.
You may just be surrounded by uncreative people – those who don’t foster an environment of excitement and innovation, and who inhibit your ability to access your true potential.
Traits of uncreative people
Uncreative people can be anywhere, from your workplace to your home, from bosses to business partners and everything in between. How their lack of creativity manifests could be dependent on their role, but sometimes, there are overarching themes.
The first trait of an uncreative person is that they have inhibitory linear thinking. This just means that an uncreative person will want things done a certain way, even if that way isn’t as effective or productive. Think of a football coach who only wants to run the ball when their quarterback has the strongest arm of the NFL or a boss who only wants you to add numbers by hand, because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Another trait of someone who could be considered uncreative is excessive emotion, such as excessive negativity, or even excessive positivity. Forbes argues that “life is too short for the negativity,” and that you’ll do much better for yourself if you “find and focus on relationships with those who can share their wins and positive vibes and help you realize that you can do the same.”
But a bunch of yes-men is just as unproductive as a bunch of no-men, and hearing the same opinions over and over in an echo chamber of your own making forms a business place that doesn’t value creative input.
One final trait of an uncreative person is adherence to current trends. Surprisingly, this might even extend to people who’ve hopped on the entrepreneur train, trying to start their own company or invest in a venture. If you see people reposting motivational memes, asking what’s trending in meetings, or looking to social media for where to turn next, they might be masquerading as a creative person, but really be relying on the world to tell them what moves to make next instead of learning from current trends to predict new ones.
What if I’m the uncreative person?
If you identify with any of the above sentiments, it’s possible that you might be an uncreative person. But don’t panic — it’s easy to deconstruct that, as long as you’re willing to do the work.
Being uncreative mostly revolves around getting stuck in unfortunate patterns of behavior. To create a perspective change, the first step is getting out of your rut, and trying something new.
“Go for a mid-day walk,” LifeHack advises, “hit up yoga class, or even just do a face mask because when you’re burnt out, you’re never going to be able to show up at your best.” Ideally, these quiet moments of contemplation could foster insight as to why you might be resistant to change or feel trapped in a cycle of failure.
The difference between creative people and uncreative people, LifeHack advises, is that “creative people are able to consistently respond to the situations in which they’re placed and utilize the resources they have at their disposal.” You can’t be afraid to be “spontaneous … flexible, and willing to adapt.”
Another quick tip to encourage your own creativity is to find something you like and do it. It sounds silly, but even a hobby like knitting or exercise can kick-start the motivation it takes to devote yourself to a life of further creativity.
How to leave uncreative people
If there are uncreative people surrounding you, the usual advice is to ditch them for a more encouraging crowd. But that might be hard – while it’s pretty easy to give the old “cut out toxic people” retort, sometimes, you can’t just leave it all behind.
Imagine you’re working at an innovative, incredible company, and it’s just the guy who sits next to you who’s very uncreative. Or at home, if your husband or wife is worried about where your next paycheck is coming from, they may be less supportive of a risky creative choice. You could also have a good friend or coworker who you care about deeply, but they’re just not fostering your creativity or drive for progression.
Mossy Brain recommends asking yourself, “can you restrict their influence over your life? Can you find space from them, and grow?” It may be impossible to cut people out of your life entirely, especially if you find yourself in a grey area of people who are occasionally supportive, or only rigid on some topics. In this way, it’s best to diversify your investments and know your audience.
If you keep different creative friends for different creative choices, you’re more likely to feel encouraged, but if you bring up ideas with people you know will arbitrarily shoot them down, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And don’t cut someone out just because they feel constraining — sometimes, they might be amenable to compromise, and their counterargument could be a helpful tool in finding gaps in your ideas, and ultimately, bolstering your own enterprise.
Where to find creatives
There isn’t some secret meeting place or underground club where creative people can secretly be found. It’s a misnomer that you have to be an artist to be creative, as creativity can be found in business, science, and math as well. The most important thing is to find out in what arena you wish to be creative and find a place where people who value similar things tend to gather.
If you do try to join a club, coalition, or host a Meetup for like-minded individuals, Medium says, “don’t just show up. You have to contribute to be a part of it.” While attending events is fun, volunteering can often cause one to feel more “united with the club,” and form “deeper relationships with many of the members.”
That being said, remember to keep your volunteering to a manageable degree, and see it as a stepping stone rather than an end goal, like an unpaid internship, or pro bono work. Your time is valuable, and volunteering for too long can cause as much burnout as working in an uncreative environment. A volunteer job should be one that allows you to try new things, pitch new ideas, and make new connections that hopefully you’ll carry over to more profitable ventures.