March 21

What I Learned from Paul McCartney About Being Creative

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I’m fascinated by the creative process.

Creative people seem to have a mystical, magical skill… The unique ability to create something where once there was nothing.

What exactly happens? Can you learn it? Or are you born with it?

I found the recently released footage of Paul McCartney composing Get Back remarkable. As far as I know, it’s the only time in history we’ve been able to watch a creative genius in the process of crafting one of their most important works.

Almost as remarkable is the sight of Ringo Starr in the background, looking utterly bored throughout.

There was no hint of an excited “I think you’re onto something there Paul”.

What can we take from that?

My view is that what we were witnessing was absolutely routine for the Beatles. And that Paul had discovered a creative process that worked for him.

Yes, a process.

If this is anything to go by, that process starts with a rhythm, followed by a chord sequence, then a top line, and finally some lyrics.

The whole thing is a process of iterative experimentation.

The experiments continued over the next couple of weeks – repeated testing of different combinations of lyrics, until finally the song comes together in the form we know it today.

Honing Your Creative Process

When I am working my day job as an Innovation Coach, my customers often ask me if I can help them be more creative. To come up with better, more ambitious ideas. To conceive more creative solutions to customer problems.

I’m more convinced than ever that the answer to that is yes.

There is a process that can be followed. There is a skill to be learned.

Like an athlete, some people may have more natural ability than others, but all of us can learn that skill, and with repeated application of the process, continue to improve.

We just need to keep flexing the creativity muscle.

[RELATED] – Want to get better at solving tricky business problems? Take a look at our Creative Ideation Workshop for inspiration.

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