Ken Robinson and 5 Lessons in Being Creative

He spent his life trying to decode creativity for the rest of us. He will be missed.

Creativity 5 min read Aug 27, 2020

Sir Ken Robinson (1950-2020) may have passed, but his words live on.

Ken was a staunch advocate of educational reform and strived to promote creativity in learning, especially in children. He worked tirelessly for the cause and was in fact knighted back in 2003 for his unparalleled work. His rich legacy will continue to uplift educators for decades to come.

We wanted to honour Ken today by listing five life lessons that have resonated with us and we’re sure countless others. May this also inspire you to pursue your owh passions.

5. Imagination is the source of all human achievement

A quote that can stand up to your “innovation is the mother of all invention”, Ken suggests that imagination is at the core of what mankind has achieved - in anything and everything from science to arts.

If it wasn’t for the human imagination, occasionally reckless abandon, and willingness to create something that not everyone might fall in love with, we wouldn’t have any of the fascinating scientific inventions, artistic masterpieces, and great literature that we enjoy now. So act on your crazy ideas and think outside the box!

4. Some of the most brilliant, creative people did not do well at school

Many creative geniuses did not discover their special qualities until they left school and “recovered” from their education. Recovered - that’s Ken’s word, to say that more often than not, school “kills” creativity in children.

Ken believed that people do not learn to be creative in school. You discover that yourself, and schools should merely facilitate the discovery process. That’s how we can truly unlock our creative potential.

3. To be in “The Zone” is to gain a sense of freedom and of authenticity

You know this feeling, right? When you’re really focused on the task at hand and everything around you just melts away. Ah, to live in The Zone.

According to Ken, The Zone grants us full, unhinged powers of creativity. If you’re writing a piece of music, for example, and you’ve been going at it for hours trying to make it perfect, you are smack in the middle of The Zone. And under such circumstances, Ken wants you to forget about avoiding the “wrong” notes, and just let loose!

2. The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas, but instead…

Create a culture that enables everyone to have ideas of their own. If you lead a team, keep these words in mind.

One of the most important elements of a team is collaboration. You don’t want to merely instruct others what to do; you would want to hear them out and let them contribute to your ideas. Do your best to make it a team effort, and see others grow alongside you for better results all around.

1. If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything creative

Ask any adult about their worst fear, and they’ll probably say something about failing and making mistakes. But in one of his most memorable TED Talks, Ken pointed out that the difference between children and grown-ups is that children are not afraid to be wrong. And that right there is the secret to genuine creativity.

Sometimes, you have to take risks. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake and give it a go, see what happens, and then learn from it. You might even come up with something remarkable.

We’ll just leave this here. The rest is up to you.

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr