A BESPECTACLED billionaire nerd in a computer company. A hugely popular black female talk show host on the boob tube. An aging gentleman playing the stock market. A “freaking” diva for 40 years. A fluffy blonde lawyer on Capitol Hill. What do these people have in common?
The nerd is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft; the black female TV talk show host is Oprah Winfrey; the aging gentleman is stock market billionaire genius Warren Buffet; the “freaking” diva is Cher. But hey, isn’t the fluffy blonde somehow out of place? What is Elle Woods doing in this A list?
What binds these people, aside from their iconic fame? Well, for one, they have a seemingly inexhaustible wellspring of creativity that propelled their lives and careers to dizzying heights of success. And yes, despite some protestations, Elle Woods is a symbol for creativity.
Fountain of Success
Creativity is the fountain of success but unlike the fountain of youth, it may not be as elusive as you may think. We ordinary mortals can drink from this fountain, too. And Elle Woods of the blockbuster movies Legally Blonde 1 and 2 proves this to be true.
In the first Legally Blonde movie, she was the effervescent blonde dumped by her boyfriend for not being “serious” enough to be a wife to an ambitious would-be politician. Thinking that being a Harvard law student would do the trick, Elle plunged into serious study to prepare for her acceptance at Harvard. To the amazement of her ex-boyfriend, she got in. What’s more, challenged by her teachers, she put her mind to work and came up with creative answers and solutions to the legal problems posed to her both in class and while training in a prestigious law firm.
In Legally Blonde 2, Elle faced a tougher challenge, how to successfully have a bill that would ban animal testing passed, one needed by her dog Bruiser’s mom so that she would be released from an animal testing center. Here, Elle encountered, not intimidating teachers, but sly politicians. Her own mentor, Congressman Victoria Rudd, turned out to be her political enemy. But with creativity unfaded by obstacles, she found many legal and extralegal options to pursue her goal, which included a rally by her Delta Nu sorority sisters. Indeed, Elle Woods, for all intents and purposes, was a blonde bound to failure by the negative perceptions of society. But drawing from a fathomless wellspring of optimism and creativity, she was able to achieve her seemingly unreachable and “crazy” goals.
Some may consider the story of Elle Woods a fairy tale but the truth is many people considered as “losers” do succeed in life. They do not let “practical” people dampen their creativity.
Everyone is Creative
Everyone nerd, minority, the aged, freaking and blonde can be as creative as Elle Woods and other successful people. One needs only to “think differently” somewhat like a blonde thinking of novel ways of winning over congressmen. Oftentimes, people get lost in the maze of a problem, blocked by dead ends. The way out seem to be nowhere in sight. But people who make use of their creative potential know there is a way out, and oftentimes, many ways out. It is just matter of “seeing existing objects or processes and combining them in different ways for new purposes or to solve existing issues.”
Creativity is inherent in each person. This statement is supported by laboratory research conducted by a well-known psychologist over a span of 19 years. His research showed that everyone can develop creative skills and that by “influencing the number and type of behaviors, the creative process can be accelerated and directed towards useful ends.”
Creativity is thus not the exclusive territory of the creative stereotype, the artist. And for that matter, the art is not the sole territory in which creativity can be expressed.
Creativity can flourish in many settings in business, in the academe, in the government, in non-governmental organizations, in the community and in the family. Creativity can be expressed in every minute and situation of our lives. It is a way of thinking creative thinking that enables the human being to exercise God-given creative powers.
Knowing this, imagine the huge untapped creative potential inherent in all organizations. In fact, a study conducted in companies in the UK show that “not enough firms are fully exploiting the business ideas of their employees and are not making the most of their skills. Whilst firms may be encouraging creativity, the implementation and management of the ideas generated is lacking. Consequently, many companies in the UK are deemed to be falling short of their potential, creating an ‘innovation gap.’”
If everyone in an organization developed their inherent creative skills, the impact on the organization’s growth can be exponential. There will more creative ideas on: innovative products and services; faster processing times; product enhancements; effective government programs; cutting edge teaching and learning styles, and so many more that can benefit the individual and society. Indeed, unleashing creativity unleashes productivity, excellence, continuous learning, continuous improvement or kaizen, progress and success.
The triumph of Elle Woods did unleash a host of good things on Capitol Hill (if only on film). For one, in the final scene, she sent all the congressmen snapping their fingers as they gave positive feedback to each other from Delta Nu’s snap cup. In the same way, wouldn’t problems be solved in a snap as well when we tap the creator within us?
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer October 5, 2003.
Photo credit: www.sxc.hu