David Burkus, founder and host of LDRLB, DavidBurkus.com and author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas, is a renowned speaker who has shared his talents with Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft as well as leaders at the US Naval Academy and Naval Postgraduate School, and he is a regular contributor to media leaders such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review. David also teaches at Oral Roberts University, where he is an assistant professor of management. He took time to chat with us about creativity and problem solving, and the myths surrounding creativity.

Hey, David! Tell us about the myths of creativity. How can we all embrace creativity, hidden or not?

The stories that we tell ourselves are true, even if they aren’t actually true. There’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias that asserts we selectively filter in or filter out information depending on whether it conforms to what we already believe. So if you tell yourself a story, you’ll convinced yourself that it’s true. In the case of creativity, many of us tell stories about it being vague and mysterious or stories of who has it and who doesn’t. The truth is, creativity is something we all have the potential to unleash; many of us are just out of practice.

Does every professional field need creativity in some way or another?

I don’t think “need” is the right word. Every field already uses creativity. Creativity is the process of developing ideas that are new and useful. Every discipline needs new and useful ideas, especially when they face problems.

How does creativity play into problem solving and lead to success?

Creativity is linked to problem solving. When we face problems, we need useful ideas and we also need new ideas (old but useful ideas would mean the problem was already solved). So the process we engage in solving those problems looks a lot like the process used in any field that we traditionally look to as “creative.”

Do you think our society can be guilty of stifling creativity, even at a young age?

We do. Beside spreading myths about our own abilities, we tell myths about how well society itself responds to creative ideas. We too often say that if you build a better mousetrap, then the world will beat a path to your door. I call this the “mousetrap myth” because the people who build “better mousetraps” too often find society beats the idea down or ignores it. We have a hard time recognizing creative ideas because when an idea is new, it’s hard to judge it as useful. If it departs from the status quo…then it’s hard to use the status quo to judge it.

Can people be guilty of stifling their own creativity?

Absolutely. The more we believe faulty myths about creative people being a certain breed of person or that creative ideas come in eureka moments from somewhere mysterious, the more we stifle our creativity. Most of the myths we choose to believe, we adopt because they let us off the hook. If you’re “not inspired,” then it’s not your fault. But if you are born with creative potential, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You WERE born with creative potential…so roll up your sleeves and get to work.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Every day, whether in the classroom or speaking at a conference, I get to facilitate the transfer of good ideas. Usually, they’re other people’s ideas…the work of other researchers or the successful practices of innovative companies…but I get to help get those ideas out to a broader audience that needs them.

Download tons of free resources derived from The Myths of Creativity at DavidBurkus.com/Resources.