Creativity: The Essence of Being Australian

Creativity is at the core of all human endeavour. It’s what makes us keep searching for new ideas and innovations, and is what got us standing up and leaving our cave dwelling existence in the first place.

Creativity in the workplace is essential. At a macro level creativity drives innovation, and it’s innovation that drives expansion and development of industry and economy. At a micro level, every individual in the workplace can be more productive, happy and effective if they apply creativity to problem solving, team dynamics and management, and their general work and work/life balance.

There has been a tendency in Australia to marginalise the word “creativity”. As a society, we have been guilty, I think, of using it almost as a pejorative term, and to see it as something outside the mainstream. We have tended to think of it as being associated only with the arts, or with advertising, or with people who wear “funny clothes” and are generally not quite “like us”. But this is to trivialise creativity, and not understand what it really is, and to miss the point as a growing and dynamic society, to our detriment.

Australians are probably known for loving sport and straight-talking, and for being suspicious of the more “airy fairy” which we’ve historically associated with a perceived pretention in arts, culture and intellectualism. We pride ourselves on a straightforward and egalitarian approach. And we are proud we’ll “have a go” with a minimum of fuss (No worries, Mate!).

“Having a go” is at the heart of what creativity is. Creativity allows you to make something from nothing, to look at something in a different way, to make the most of limited resources, to try something new and to solve problems. I would have thought that Australians, with our “No worries, Mate” attitude, unconsciously apply creativity very well, and fundamentally.

Surely it was this attitude, and it’s underlying basis in creativity, that recently got us through the Global Financial Crisis so well, that allowed us to stage such an inspiring, beautiful and deeply touching Sydney Olympic Games, that underlies our worship and reverence of the physical poetry of Don Bradman’s game, and that’s enabled us to have created (against all odds!) a dynamic, culturally diverse and sophisticated society from a convict settlement in just over 200 years.

Surely, creativity is at the heart of what it means to be Australian? To be prepared to “have a go” is to be creative.

In Australia, visitors tell us this all the time. While they expect the geographical, physical beauty of Australia, they don’t expect our joy, our sophisticated society, our straight-forwardness, and they are surprised that we’ve made something so complex yet unpretentious from very little and in such a short time. Isn’t this why Oprah Winfrey was so shocked and so over-come recently by the surprise and wonder of Australia? And isn’t this why we can say, “We created this – we made it with our own hands and our own thoughts”?

So if Australians, and the Australian culture generally, harness the essence of creativity without even knowing it, how much more could be achieved, individually and as a society, if we started to recognise it properly, and to apply it intentionally?

What a society we could be, and what an economy we could create!

Lynette Jensen

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8 Responses to “Creativity: The Essence of Being Australian”

  1. Laura Amos says:

    An interesting read as always Lynette. You’re very right too! Creativity should be encouraged at all levels.

  2. mike says:

    i think you have captured it!

  3. Rachel Lockett says:

    Amazing piece! Great insight!

  4. Ian Debenham says:

    Hi Lynette

    As ever, I enjoy reading your blog. I find your comments very insightful and arise from a deep well of thought.

    I have recently retired from thirty years working for a major museum. As you would imagine it is a place of great creativity where the staff at all levels have to apply an ability in this area, not only for the creation of exhibitions but coping with the bureaucracy of management and the, often, vagaries and issues of the visiting public. Thus it is inculcated into my own personal ethos that creativity is a way of life. We progress because we have developed the mental dexterity to solve a problem no matter what the strictures.

    I believe that we Australians have developed our basically creative nature from our geography. Planted as we are in the South Pacific Ocean far away from the older cultures, and products Australians have had to “make do” in the early period of our history before communications and transport allowed us to benefit more easily from imported knowledge and technical equipment. Thus, if anyone felt the need for a certain commodity or machine or tool, they produced what they wanted from the material at hand.

    Now, with the benefit of immediate communications through computerisiation and rapid air transport will arising generations see the need to “make do”? May be, maybe not but there are many other areas that require creativity and the future will present these generations with challenges enough to continue to drive them forward.

    There is so much more that could be said about Australian creativity but you have very adequately opened the case for the positive.

  5. Karen Fryar says:

    Wow Lynette, I agree that you have it down pat. I have thought for a long time now that intentional thought is what is behind creativity, and that the application is limitless! Thank you again for your articulate sharing!

  6. Amanda Como says:

    I always love reading your blog! :) Creativity isn’t just about painting a picture or taking a photo… It’s about making something out of nothing. xxx

  7. Emily seidel says:

    An inspiring read as always Lynette. Very little mention is ever given to the little bits of creativity we use in every day life. I look forward to your next blog!

  8. [...] means create or come into being. Creating things is what human beings can’t help but do. We are driven to [...]

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