The Five Characteristics of Creativity

Dr Robert Muller ; is a Research Fellow, Disinformation/Nation-State Resilience; Sociologist; Thesis Guide/Editor: &

Creativity — a necessary prerequisite for success, or an over-rated concept that cannot be learnt? The debate rages on. However, in my work as an academic and in community-building, I have been fortunate enough to work with students and community activists who are truly gifted in terms of creativity.

So, what characteristics do they have that make them stand out from the rest of the population? From my observations (although I have not tested these assertions), there are five key characteristics of creative people that they use to plan, construct, implement, and maintain whatever it is that they have chosen to do. These characteristics are outlined below.


This is a key characteristic because it involves a mindset that suggests that there may be more than a single answer or solution to any particular issue or problem. Flexible thinkers are not hemmed in by being overly-focused on one way of doing things and tend to be open to innovation. They also have the capacity to understand when something is not working and then to change to an alternative solution/approach.


A sense of intense curiosity

Creative thinkers are fascinated with the world around them. They ask lots of questions, and tend to develop a very intense focus that takes them into almost a reverie as they try to discover how something works, or the detail of a beautiful structure, or anything else they set their mind on.

Positive attitude

A positive attitude is essential for thinking creatively as it is this positivity that spurs the mind on to seek detail, wonder, and, indeed, solutions. This is linked strongly to my previous point about intense curiosity. A person who thinks negatively tends to block out possibilities, and not look at the world around them with such detailed wonder.

Strong motivation and determination

This is where the hard work of the creative comes in. So, we can all have creative thoughts — but what use is creativity if it doesn’t actually show itself to the world in an act of construction or creation? From creating software solutions for major problems, through to creating social capital through community building, or painting a work of art, creativity requires the follow-through that can only come from strong motivation and determination. Without this, creative ideas will only reside within the mind of the individual without having the opportunity to influence society and/or the community.


This is an interesting characteristic because highly creative people tend to believe in the VALUE of the ideas they come up with. Remember, they are also flexible, so they are willing to change; however, they do not seem to be worried about whether their idea is right or wrong because they believe that their idea brings value to the field in which it resides, even if it may later be debunked.

Whether you work in the realm of the arts, or in business, or in community capacity building, it is important to recognise the creative people in your team, but also to cultivate these characteristics, because creativity can be learned.