Over forty years ago, E. Paul Torrence began a study of creativity in children and to find out if it could predict their creative achievements as adults. He studied around two hundred children from kindergarten, observing how creativity blossomed in some situations and not in others.
As his subjects reached adulthood, he recognised certain characteristics of children who grew to lead creative lives. On the basis of his study, the Manifesto for Children was developed to describe the struggle we have to maintain our creativity and to use our strengths to create the careers we wanted when children.
Torrence’s Manifesto encourages children to stay true to their creativity and treasured dreams, but when I came across it a few years ago on an office wall, it struck me that it equally applies to adults as well:
- Don’t be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity.
- Know, understand, take pride in, practise, develop, exploit, and enjoy your greatest strengths
- Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others and to walk away from the games they impose on you. Free yourself to play your own game.
- Find a great teacher or mentor who will help you.
- Don’t waste energy trying to be well-rounded.
- Do what you love and can do well.
- Learn the skills of interdependence.
Now, we’ve all heard the phrase “you are in work for a long time, so do something you love“, but how many of us have truly taken note of it and followed the dreams we had when we children?
On a recent project, I met around 1400 employees of a large organisation. A significant number of these were in unhappy jobs, they had never imagined when they were younger. Somewhere along the way, they had forgotten to keep imagining, given up on their dreams and fallen in line with the expectations of others.
Of course, it is never too late to change direction, once you realise this to be true. So, re-connect with your dreams, your strengths and your passions. Maybe you can learn from children…or should I say, your inner child?