Business Magazine

A Lesson in Creativity

By Frederickjgoodall @goodallcreative

think differentlyCreativity has always been an important part of my life. While most kids were asking for toys for their birthdays, I asked for paint, crayons, colored pencils, and books. I was happiest when I was dreaming.

But it wasn’t until I took a poetry writing class in college that I was truly able to unleash my creativity. My professor, Dr. Jon Woodson, was an eccentric, intellectual who had a huge Afro and wore a standard uniform of black pants, black t-shirt, and black trench coat every day.

On the first day of class, he told us to pull out a sheet of paper because we were having a pop quiz. We all groaned and reluctantly pulled out our notebooks. Dr. Woodson reached under his desk and pulled out a brown paper bag. He placed the bag on his desk and said, “Here is your quiz.” We stared at the bag with puzzled looks on our faces. One brave student finally mustered the courage to ask what we were supposed to do.

“Tell me what’s in the bag,” said Dr. Woodson. “You have five minutes to complete the quiz.”

We all looked around the room still unsure about what we should be doing. As the time ticked away, we frantically wrote answers on our papers and passed them to Dr. Woodson at the end of the allotted duration.

“Now I will read your answers aloud and grade the papers,” said Dr. Woodson.

“The first one says, ‘Your Lunch,’’ Dr. Woodson said. “F!” He went through a few more papers that said things like, air, pens, and a few more lunch responses. All Fs!

Finally, Dr. Woodson found a response that made him smile.

“Ah, here we go,” he said. “This paper says, ‘Pink Cadillac.’ A!”

We couldn’t believe our ears.

“That’s impossible,” shouted one student. “A Cadillac can’t fit in the bag.”

“How do you know?” Dr. Woodson asked.

The student tried to plead his case, but Dr. Woodson just laughed. ”This is not a physics class,” he said. “This is a writing class. In order to be a good writer you have to use your imagination and open your mind to new possibilities. You have to be able to create something out of nothing.”

And that’s when it clicked for me. I realized that I was limiting myself by not allowing my mind to wander like I did when I was a child. Dr. Woodson helped me to truly understand what it means to be creative. His lessons have helped me to solve problems in every career that I’ve had. Failing that quiz not only fueled my creativity, but it also inspired me to think differently.



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