What traits and attitudes makes a person creative? Earl Nightingale sheds some light on the subject.

Some time ago, the late author and radio personality Earl Nightingale, known as the “Dean of Personal Development,” assembled a descriptive sketch of the creative person. This article represents a collection of Earl’s thoughts from his many audiotapes, as well as quotes from other famous thinkers that he used to reinforce and add color to this profile.

What’s significant to us is that the average creative person tends not to be the wild dressing, far-out stereotype, but is in fact a lot like you and me. What sets the truly creative person apart is not a gifted birth or special inborn talent; it’s more a matter of mindset, attitude and habit. With the proper discipline, these qualities can be developed by virtually anyone.

One final note: Although Nightingale consistently refers to people using male pronouns, he is actually referring to all people.

The creative person realizes that the mind is an inexhaustible storehouse, but he must constantly augment its storehouse of ideas, thoughts and wisdom with new material from which to forge new ideas and “connections.”

This person has a carefully and clearly defined set of goals.

He knows that the brain thrives on exercise. This person thinks imaginatively on a daily basis about three things: himself, his worth and his fellow man. “By asking himself questions in these three areas, he’s prospecting in the richest gold mine ever known.”

He reaches out for ideas, respects the minds of others, and gives credit to others. Many people have ideas; they’re free, and many of them are excellent.

“Ideas are like slippery fish; they have a peculiar knack for getting away from us unless we gaffe them on the point of a pencil.” For this reason, the creative person captures ideas immediately. In one example that Nightingale cites, a book writer created a set of topical folders, then dropped ideas into the appropriate folder as he thought of them. In a surprisingly short time, he had enough material to write a truly excellent book.

The creative person is intensely observant, paying careful attention to everything he thinks and hears.

He is always looking for better ways to do his work and live his life.

“The creative person anticipates achievement. He expects to win. The above-average production engendered by this attitude affects those around him in a positive way. He’s a plus-factor for all who know him.”

“Problems are challenges to creative minds. Without problems, there would be little reason to think at all. Welcoming them as normal, predictable parts of living singles him out as an above-average person. He knows it’s a waste of time merely to worry about problems, so he wisely invests the same time and energy in solving problems.”

“The creative person utilizes an organized approach to problem-solving, or avoids problems altogether by anticipating them and taking creative action before things turn sour.”

“The creative person knows the value of giving himself and his ideas away. He’s a giver as well as a go-getter. The hand that gives, always gathers.”

When a creative person gets a new idea, he puts it through a series of steps designed to improve it. He builds big ideas from little ones, new ideas from old ones.

“Questions are the creative acts of the intelligence, and he uses them to his advantage.

”The creative person uses his spare time wisely. He realizes that many of the world’s greatest ideas were conceived in the creator’s spare time.”

“Ceasing to think creatively is but little different than ceasing to live.” — Ben Franklin.

“It’s possible to lift ourselves over life’s obstacles through the use of our applied imagination.”

“The imaginations of most of us are like the wings of an ostrich. They enable us to run, though not to soar. But many of us don’t even walk.” — Lord MacCauley.

“Talent is our affair. We can shrivel it through disuse or build it up by practicing creativity, by solving problems, by using our leisure in ways that will exercise our imagination until we become happy, vital, intelligent people.” — Gustav Flaubert.