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I am not creative

The word we use shape our world. What world are you living in?

I am not creative
Matteo Grand
August 9, 2023

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This article was originally posted on Making Space, a Substack penned by our Cofounder, Matteo Grand. Subscribe below to receive more content just like this.

I am a strong believer in the power of words. The way we use them both internally and externally shape the world as we know it.

When we're kind to ourselves and kind to others, we are happier and life is more full. When we're hard on ourselves and unpleasant to others, the opposite is true.

It's no surprise then, that the labels we decide carry can either propel us or limit us. Labels are, after all, simply beliefs put into words.

There are a few words that people are quick to label themselves as either being, or not, without truly understanding the true essence of the word and how this label might shape every moment in their life.

One such word is ‘creative’.

For most people, being ‘creative’ is measured by a very specific output or skill, such as being able to paint, draw, or sing. This narrow lens quickly forces people to make a judgement - I’m not creative because I can’t {{insert skill here}}. 

Obviously there are some people that have a natural talent for these skills, but the truth is anyone can develop them so long as it is important enough to someone to do so.

I’m lucky that I’ve always identified as a Creative, even though I’ve never been particularly skilled at making art or music. I’ve been able to carry this identity because I’ve always understood creativity to simply be a way of thinking. It is the outlook that you bring to any situation.

What I call being ‘Creative’, Rick Rubin, a man who’s spent far more time thinking about this than I have, calls it being an ‘Artist’. Rick says that “living life as an artist is a practice. You are either engaging in the practice, or you’re not.” 

We live in a society that both measures and rewards things in a very linear way. If you demonstrate an aptitude for maths or science from a young age, they call you advanced and put you on a path to deepen your skills. This is compounded when your painting in art class is graded poorly. It’s decided - you were put on this earth to go into finance. 

It’s with this mindset that people wrongly associate as being an artist or not, or creative or not. As Rick says, “we tend to think of the artist’s work as the output. The real work of the artist is a way of being in the world.”

A quick aside

Even though I consider myself a creative person, I’m a perfectionist and a workaholic, so I starve myself of the space and time to explore the boundaries of my own creativity. 

This column is my attempt to reconnect with my own creative practice and hopefully encourage others to do the same. I will be sharing things I’m learning, things I’m thinking, and things that inspire me along the way.

How do you relate to the idea of being a ‘Creative’? And how do you cultivate your own creative practice?

I'd love to learn about your experience. Email me at and let me know.