When you hear the words “creativity” and “innovation,” what do you think of?

Do you think of artists painting a mural? Maybe you think of engineers working together to solve a problem? Perhaps your brain takes you back to a time when you were most creative, whether that was writing a short-story, creating an entire dance routine, or playing make-believe games on the playground.

For me, creativity and innovation are one in the same; they go hand in hand. When I think of creativity, I think of imaginative innovation. Likewise, when I think of how I would define innovation, courageous creativity is what first comes to mind.

Dictionary.com defines creativity as, “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.” Similarly, Dictionary.com defines innovation as the, “introduction of new things or methods.”

As you can see, expressing creativity can be done in a variety of ways. However, I most often associate creativity with the ability to be original and unique; the ability to dig deep into your imagination and bring forth new ideas and visuals. Innovation is almost exactly the same thing in that it is the ability to creativity come up with new ways of doing things.

Both creativity and innovation take a great deal of courage, in my opinion. As human beings, we were created to be creative. We were designed to be purposeful thinkers. We were meant to be imaginative. We were not intended to bottle up our ideas and keep them to ourselves out of fear of being too ‘out there,’ or being called ‘crazy,’ or ‘weird.’ Instead, we are supposed to courageously embrace our creativity and innovativeness and use it for a purpose greater than ourselves.

This year, WSU’s university theme is “Creativity & Innovation.” So, what does that mean and how does this theme pertain to your personal experience at WSU? What roles do creativity and innovation play in your life today? Do they even play a role?

Thinking about this year’s university theme got me thinking about how often I embrace my own creativity and ability to be innovative. Honestly, this left me feeling a little disappointed. I would definitely consider myself to be a creative person, but how often do I actually take time out of my day to express my creativity?

To be creative and innovative, there must be some time and thought put forth. Therefore, I think that in order to fully embrace the creativeness and innovativeness within us, we must intentionally schedule time throughout our week to do so. Whether it is five hours, an hour, or simply fifteen minutes, I believe that there is an incredible amount of value in setting time aside for creative brainstorming and innovative planning.

I would strongly encourage you to try this for yourself and block out a time in your planner each week or once a month to be creative; whatever creativity may look like in your life. Personally, I love to be purposefully creative. Creating just to create doesn’t excite me.

I relish in creating, designing, and generating content for purposes that I am passionate about. For example, I love setting aside time to use my creativity in the role of a volunteer for a non-profit organization that I have been partnering with in Ecuador for the last couple of years. Taking time to put my creativity and innovativeness to work to help this organization is fulfilling because I can express myself in ways that my homework doesn’t allow me to. Also, using my creativity for a purpose greater than myself is extremely rewarding.

I believe that everyone has been given different and unique gifts, talents, and abilities. It is through these gifts that we are able to find our ‘sweet spots’ in life. A sweet spot is a position in which you thrive because you are in a place that allows you to combine your unique talents and abilities with your greatest passions.

Think about if everyone was able to take time each week to be seated in their ‘sweet spot’ and use their gifts and talents to be purposefully creative and intentionally innovative. Imagine the effect that could have in our lives, in the lives of those on our campus, and in the lives of those all around the world.

I challenge you to take some time this week, find your sweet spot, and use your beautiful creativity for a purpose greater than yourself. Doing so has the power to impact and improve the world around you; maybe more than you may think!