As Business Looks for Creative Thinkers — Look Out!
In this age of innovation, Business Schools look to fill theirs eats with more right brain creative people. Folks are beginning to take notice of the value and power of the off the wall idea.
Business Week.com devotes an entire section to innovation and creativity and companies have titles such as Idea Czar on their organizational chart. Tom_Peters asks “Where are the freaks in your company?” and goes on to say that they’re the ones who have the ideas.
Yeah, but how do you deal with someone who is one way one minute and the opposite the next? How do you tell a creative person from someone who just irritates you?
What are the traits that creative folks have in common? Are we all creative? Is there anyone who’s not? Can I boost my creativity? Am I a creative freak? Questions follow creativity — what is it, how does it work, and how do we access our Creativity at Work to make our brand and business stronger?.
One Creativity Study
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the man who wrote Flow — also wrote the pivotal book on creativity — Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. The book covers a 5-year study of 91 individuals over 60 years old, who had a creative impact on the world. The first information that Professor Mihaly offered was this extended definition of creativity:
. . . I distinguish at least three different phenomena that can legitmately be called by that name.
The first usage: wide spread in ordinary conversation, refers to persons who express unusual thoughts, who are interesting and stimulating — in short, to people who appear to be unusually bright, a brilliant converstionalist, a person with varied interests and a quick mind, may be called creative in this sense. . . .
The second way the term can be used is to refer to people who experience the world in novel and original ways. These are individuals whose perceptions are fresh, whose judgments are insightful, who may make important discoveries that only they know about. I refer to these people as personally creative. . . .
The final use of the term designates individuals who, like Leonardo, Edison, Picasso, or Einstein, have changed our culture in some important respect. They are the creative ones without qualifications. Because their achievements are by definition public, it is easier to write about them, and the persons included in my study belong in this group.
Do any of those definitions describe you?
10 Reasons Creative Folks Make Us Crazy
I’ve read this book several times, but each time that I show it to a friend, the first place that I turn to, the place where the book falls open, is to the 10 Dimensions of Complexity of the Highly Creative Personality. That’s what Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls them. I call them the 10 Reasons that Creative People Drive Us Crazy. Each item is a paradox, a complexity, a contradiction that’s frustrating to others when they exist together at odds in one human being. Take a look and then I’ll tell you how knowing them has helped me keep my sanity, or at least relieve some stress.
1. Creative individuals have great physical energy, but they become extremely quiet when they are at rest. This restful period can lead others to think that they are not feeling well or that they are unhappy, when the truth is they are fine.
2. Creative folks tend to be both highly intelligent and naive at the same time.
3. Creative people are disciplined and playful simultaneously. In some creative people, this can mean that they are responsible and irresponsible at the same time as well.
4. Creative minds move between a spectrum of fantasy and imagination and a firm grounding in reality. They understand the present and need to keep in touch with the past.
5. Creative individuals seem to be both introverted and extroverted, expressing both traits at once. An image to explain this might be that they are shy showoffs, if you can picture that.
6. Creative people are sincerely humble and extremely proud in a childlike way. It requires ego to have a risky, fresh idea. It takes self-doubt to hammer it out to a workable form.
7. Creative folks don’t feel as tied to gender roles. They feel distinctly individual. They don’t feel the barriers of authority or the rules of what they are “supposed to do.”
8. Creative individuals are thought to be rebellious. Yet, in order to be creative one has to understand and have internalized the traditional culture. Therefore creativity comes from deep roots in tradition. Creative people are traditional and cutting edge.
9. Creative people are deeply passionate about their work, yet can be extremely detached and objective when discussing it.
10. Creative people are highly open and sensitive, which exposes them to pain and suffering, but also allows them to feel higher values of joy and happiness.
I find that these 10 paradoxes explain a lot the creative folks I work with. I also use them to understand what’s going on when things aren’t going well, particularly when we have a creative project going full speed under tight deadlines. That’s when I review this list to look for pairs that are out of balance. When I find and adjust the imbalances, the stressful moments fade away.
Why Know This?
Beyond the obvious fact that knowing how we think helps us understand each other and that makes relationships work. Knowing about creativity can actually enhance our own creativity and problem solving skills.
Even talking about creativity can make a person more creative. Did you know that? Allowing our brains the room to stretch, to become flexible to take in new views and new ways of thinking is a critical skill and brand enhancing.
To argue for our abilities allows us to get closer to reaching them in the same ways that arguing for our limits makes them happen. Some people think they’re not creative, and offer quite creative reasons for why they’re not. What’s your argument about creativity? Do you have any? Can you make what you have into a bigger creativity asset?
Of course, we’d find a creative way to be creative without driving people crazy. Right?
–ME “Liz” Strauss