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Trevor E. S. Smith | Stifling creativity

Published:Sunday | May 5, 2019 | 12:00 AM

In Jamaica, ‘x’ % of our sample population has an innate interest in being creative.

This group has a mindset that thrives on variety, innovation, exploration and adventure.

This is the group that should be embraced in an environment in which out-of-the-box thinking and ‘disruption’ are sought after by organisations.

However, you may be surprised to learn that there is a seemingly natural conspiracy to stifle this group and their innate inclinations.


The process actually starts from the early stages. This creatively inclined group (I-style in Discerning Communication language) is a minority. They will spend virtually all their formative years under the watchful care and guidance of S-style and C-style adults, who have a fundamentally conservative mindset.

Stay-at-home parents and guardians, as well as caregivers and early-childhood teachers, are not usually consumed with finding ways to disrupt the status quo.

They want order and structure and for things to go as planned. Deviations from the norm is not something to celebrate. Compliance with established plans and procedures is important so as to maintain some semblance of order.

Those who guide the creative spirits in their formative years are also much more concerned about identifying and eliminating risk. They tend to be ultra-protective and could transmit a view of life that discourages adventure and risk-taking.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Concepts like that are taught as facts. In reality, a more useful view is that it depends. The relative value of the birds and the accessibility of those in the bush should be taken into consideration.

Holding on to what you have or to the status quo should not be our default mindset.

Similarly, life is not without risk or danger. Controlled exposure to navigating unusual and unplanned circumstances is a valuable element of an effective socialisation and education process.


Another concern is the tendency towards rote learning and regimentation. Many I-Style students are uncomfortable with how school and learning is organised.

They want more variety and more opportunities to explore and interact. They tend to get bored and seek outlets for self-expression.

This tends to send the signal to subject them to increased scrutiny in search of greater compliance. And the gap widens.


“I will never knowingly employ an in-style individual,” a CEO told me during a team-building workshop.

Truth be told, many workplaces are hostile to I-style individuals.

Two adages make the point:

“One thing at a time and that done well.”

“Once a job has been begun never leave it till it’s done.”

Those philosophies run counter to the multitasking, variety-seeking approach of the I-style individual.


Pause to reflect on the device that you are using to the read this. I am capturing my thoughts on a phone-camera-watch-typewriter.

We need minds that dream and seek to bring those dreams to fruition. Dreaming, visioning and out-of-the-box thinking do not thrive in situations in which uniformity and regimentation are priorities.

Some of the most important work we have done involves helping I-style individuals, and those who control or share their environment, how to maximise the value they bring to the table.

How smart would it be to forego the use of one of your limbs because you are concerned that your left leg marches to a different drummer?


Request a copy of our publication, DISCerning Communication: Ready Guide To Interpersonal Relations, Leadership and Coaching here: Email:

- Trevor E. S. Smith/Success with People Academy solutions align, drive and track performance. Our SPIKE performance management, governance and compliance e-platform supports compliance, tracks performance and guides learning and development. We certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop engaged, high-performing teams. Avoid bad hires with FinxS solutions from Extended DISC. Ask about how to create your own turnkey coaching business. Email: