The 5 Cups of Creativity


So how do you, as Walt Disney said, make dreams come true? How do you unlock your creative potential and begin to pursue what you were born to do? This framework of the 5 cups of creativity is a great starting point.

The 5 Cups

Let’s dive into the 5 cups. But before we do, keep in mind that these do not work in a linear fashion. You don’t necessarily work on clarity first, then move on to confidence. Creativity is more nuanced and individualized than that. These “5 cups” are like the parts of a car (engine, wheels, body, etc.) that all must be working for the car to go anywhere.

Ready? Let’s dive it.


Creativity is like a river, and clarity is the right and left river banks. When you have clarity about your gifts, your goals, your purpose, and your audience, it allows your creativity to run faster, deeper, and in the right direction.


When you believe in yourself and your abilities, you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. A person who lacks confidence will always be timid and fearful, doubting themselves and their direction. Confidence gives you the momentum and courage to tackle obstacles and reach for higher goals.


Almost anyone can create something worthwhile on occasion, but a true professional approaches creativity like a workman. As William Faulker said, “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” Creativity requires consistent, daily effort to accomplish anything worthwhile in the long run.


This is the desire to explore new subjects and find connections between things that don’t seem related. The curious person values learning for its own sake, not just as a means to an end.

Curiosity is the impulse that allowed Leonardo da Vinci to invent so many marvelous machines and make so many contributions to our understanding of anatomy, architecture, science, and many other areas. Likewise, Disney was an endlessly curious person who literally changed the world through storytelling, animation, and theme parks.


Creativity is not a one-man (or one-woman) show. You need a team, mastermind, small group, teachers, peers, and mentors who will help you soar further than you can on your own. Your community will make you sharper and better. No one is a self-made man (or woman).

As we go further in this series, we will explore each of these areas in more detail: what each one is, why we need it, how to get it, and how to overcome the barriers that so often derail us.

With Apologies to Walt Disney

Earlier, I mentioned a quote from Walt Disney that was so helpful in summarizing creativity for me. Disney mentioned four key areas: curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy. You might notice that my areas are a little difference than his.

I kept Curiosity and merged Courage with Confidence because they are similar. I changed Constancy to Consistency because it’s a more up-to-date term. But what about my other two areas, Clarity and Community?

I added Clarity because we need it now more than ever. With so many opportunities today, and so many distractions, it is vital for any creative person to have a clear understanding of their gifts, direction, purpose, goals, and audience. If you read any biography of Walt Disney, you’ll see that he was clear on what his gifts were, and what he wanted to accomplish.