Tom & David Kelly’s: Creative Confidence

Creativity is crucial to problem solving; creative confidence allows individuals to believe in their ability to create change.


Creative Confidence pulls together theories of growth mindset and grit, among others, and how to nurture creative capacity to innovate and create positive change in the world. If the purpose of education is to provide tools and knowledge to future generations to overcome unknown future obstacles, we should absolutely be working to build creative confidence in our schools.

We have the power to support or suppress creative confidence in others.

If students possess creative confidence, they will be able to meet future challenges head on. At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world; it lies at the heart of innovation. Creativity is required whenever new ideas, solutions, or approaches are needed. In order to spark creative thinking, experiences that inspire new ideas must be sought after. While inspiration can strike at any time, setting up for inspiration is a deliberate action.

People often feel they are not creative, but all individuals have a unique perspective that allows for creativity. This uninspired feeling often stems from a fear of failure, holding us back from trying all sorts of new things. Creative confidence is overcoming that fear and acknowledging mistakes are part of learning, remaining calm and confident in the process, and moving forward despite any obstacles.

Experiential learning loops help to develop existing concepts and spur new ones. They set up opportunities for inspiration to strike and provide opportunities to interact with the world and the problem at hand in new and novel ways. They allow adaptation and iteration toward positive improvement.

Many successful, creative individuals are thought of having the ‘stroke of genius.’ However, these individuals have failed many times, it just never stopped them. In fact, individuals who succeed more than others, do so because they have simply failed more times as well.

If you want more success – you must be prepared to shrug off more failure.

In the end, what matters is the belief in ability and the courage to act. It is better to embrace a bias toward action rather than inaction.

Classroom Strategies

  • The level of challenge and reward rises in proportion with one’s skills. Forward progress requires concentrated effort, but the next level is never out of reach. Jane McGonigal calls this “urgent optimisim”: the desire to act immediately to overcome an obstacle motivated by the belief that you have a reasonable chance of success. Properly scaffolding new skills is critical to student success.
  • Language reflects thought, but it also shapes thought patterns. Positive dialogue around new ideas influences positive actions and behaviors, negative attitudes and words create negative influences. Work to see the positive in all student contributions.
  • Mindmaps are good thought organization tools to facilitate unconventional thinking. When students are faced with a problem to solve, mindmaps can help student groups develop a plan forward.

Teacher Takeaways

  • To create a culture of innovation in schools: create a community chalk board for questions that anyone in the community may answer, this strategy strengthens the community and pools together resources. Make sure to erase the board regularly so the Q&A’s stay relevant.
  • Be sure to share new ideas that are ‘too good to miss’ with colleagues, this builds relationships and helps the spread of knowledge.
  • Acknowledge that if you want to make something great, you just have to start making. Over planning and procrastination are just signs we are afraid. Classroom innovation takes courage, the risk in trying new ideas is real, but in order to improve, action must be taken.
  • Community culture of ‘Karaoke Confidence’ helps innovation. The elements of Karaoke confidence are: a sense of humor, building on the energy of others, minimize hierarchy, value team camaraderie and trust, defer judgement (at least temporarily).
  • Check out the Design Thinking for Educators by IDEO.

One Comment on “Tom & David Kelly’s: Creative Confidence”

  1. Pingback: Credit Belongs to Those in the Arena: Creative Confidence & a Designer's..

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