Where learning and memory help us play defense, creativity helps us play offense. In an IBM study of over 1,500 CEOs, creativity was rated as the most important leadership skill—even above hard work.
Creativity is also tied up in what we value most as humans. To wildly oversimplify, let's call creativity the ability to produce things that are both novel and useful. When we think of great thinkers through time, we often think of their creativity: What do the theory of evolution, general and special relativity, and Cubism have in common? Each of their developers was staggeringly prolific. Charles Darwin published around 120 scholarly papers. Albert Einstein published around 250 papers. Pablo Picasso is credited with more than 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Were they just masochistically hardworking? More likely, creativity was fueling their work.
After all, entering a flow state, also known as being "in the zone," is an inherently pleasurable experience. It's a focused joy, a feeling of being immersed, fully absorbed, and having an energized focus. It's common when in the throes of creativity. Many artists, scientists, and performers report that they lose track of time and all sense of themselves when they are deep in their craft.
So, good news: Creativity is important—and it's fun. Better news? It's trainable, too. One of my favorite, evidence-based ways to boost it is to go on a walk, especially outdoors.