Creativity: One of Wisdom’s Most Compelling Acts

aston-martin-db5-1477363-1279x852Creativity: One of Wisdom’s Most Compelling Acts

EXPOSE  |  Creativity’s Wide Range of Influence

“Creative personalities are both constructive and deconstructive. They find use in being both cultured and primal. They are sane, but they are also crazy!” – Esther Rivera

EXPLORE  |  Bond.  James Bond.

To say it is a little like being 007 is not exactly an overstatement.

There is something inherently powerful about taking what you know and your unique experience, and doing some amazing things with it.  With our without the Aston Martin.

However, it is not for the effect of being amazing, but the need for the right action to be taken in even the most desperate situations.  It is a purposeful, beneficial response in the moment where we apply our knowledge precisely when needed–many times requiring a creative solution.

Hollywood aside, is being creatively resourceful so unrealistic?  If not, what could be preventing us from responding this way?

Watching Ken Robinson’s TED talk could shed a little light on this.  It’s as if there was a crime committed against us without our even knowing it.  It wasn’t one single event, so much as it was a gradual separation.  12 years of schooling and our creativity was all but gone, if not locked up and buried.

If we were to regain our creative confidence and ability, we would be better prepared for any situation: “Creativity” from Bond in Casino Royale

EXECUTE  |  Rethinking Creativity

What does creativity have to do with being wise?  I think a large part of it has to do with freeing our minds and hearts to pursue new and effective solutions.  Our inability to express ourselves creatively may mean we’re missing a whole dimension of problem solving.  It may also mean we could be undermining our confidence to even initiate a solution.

Let’s rethink creativity as it relates to our being well-rounded in our exercising wisdom in all things:

Life demands creativity.  Given life’s growing complexity, meeting needs and solving problems require that we think and act in ways that applies our understanding and experiences to new, ever-expanding, and unexpected situations.  Seeking creative solutions can not only mean solving the problem correctly, but efficiently as well.

Get your boogey back.  If what Ken Robinson says is true, we need to get our creativity back.  However, it may not be gone, so much as it is locked up.  Keep in mind that it may be more painful, and even costly, for it to stay locked up.  It does no one any good if we gain knowledge and never express it constructively, if not creatively.

Stop trying to conjure up passion.  If you’re just not ‘feeling it’, Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that “the trick to reigniting that spark is to let go of the idea of passion and to focus instead on the idea of curiosity.”  If you can consistently do that, not just once or twice, but every single day, and be diligent about following your curiosity wherever it leads, you’ll find that creative spark.

A new angle of attack.  Addressing a problem creatively may require us to allow a parallel activity unlock the solution.  In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert highlighted what Einstein called “combinatory play” — “the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.  It’s why Einstein would often play the violin when he was having difficulty solving a math puzzle.”

So, a pretty easy step toward getting our boogey back means being persistent in our curiosity, and using a variety of physical or mental outlets to reveal new approaches to a solution.

Don’t give up.  “What determines whether the ideas we generate are truly creative? Recent research of ours finds that one common factor often gets in the way: we tend to undervalue the benefits of persistence… some workers may have creative potential that goes untapped when they decide not to persevere with a challenge.” – Brian Lucas and Loran Nordgren

We’re not talking about trying to be creative per se, but finding the right solution may require some creative thinking.  Brian and Loran offer two recommendations to help us press on through:

“Ignore your first instinct to stop. When working on a tough creative challenge, you will likely face a moment when you feel stuck and can’t come up with any more ideas. You’ll first want to quit and spend your time doing something else.  Temporarily ignore this instinct, especially if you’re still in the early stages of the work. Try to generate just a few more ideas, or consider just a few more alternatives [reminder: this may be the point that you employ ‘combinatory play’ as mentioned above].   You may find that your next creative idea was closer than you imagined.”

“Remember that creative problems are supposed to feel difficult. Most involve setbacks, failures, and that “stuck” feeling. It’s part of the process. Suppress your instinct to interpret these feelings as a signal that you aren’t creative or you’ve run out of ideas. Reaching your creative potential often takes time, and persistence is critical for seeing a challenge through.”

Unleash your creativity.  Annie McKee identifies that it may have a lot to do with where we’re at emotionally.  “We need to be in the right emotional state in order to be creative — how we feel affects brain functioning. ”  And our work environments may be a big factor in hindering our ability to find that creative solution.  She goes on to say that “far too many organizations have cultures that support negativity and cynicism — and far too many managers are toxic.  The constant pressures at work, coupled with a changing and often baffling world, leave a lot of us at the mercy of the sacrifice syndrome.  This is where we give and give and give until there’s nothing left. The human organism doesn’t do well under such conditions.”

The work environment may only be one of the areas that we need to explore when breaking the cycle of just surviving.  McKee has some practical suggestions for keeping our environment from regaining our innate creative abilities:

“Start by taking better care of yourself.”  I know, it is often repeated.  But are you actually doing it?

“Break your most destructive, focus-killing habits, like spending a large portion of your day (or weekend) on email or giving in to persistent distractions.”

“Force yourself to take time to think and reflect.”

“Stop fretting about your deficiencies and failures. This may be most difficult for business people, but how can anyone possibly be creative without failing — a lot?”

“Focus on what makes you happy at work. The positive emotions generated when you feel connected to what really matters will help you to stay grounded and creative, even when things are tough.”

Annie further suggests that we should “deliberately craft an environment that is ripe with hope, enthusiasm, and team spirit. In this kind of environment, “people are more likely to work collaboratively, persist, and bounce back from setbacks.”

I’m too busy to be creative.  Lastly, a response to that age old excuse of being too busy from Dana Rousmaniere: “People get on Facebook and say to me: “I have no time to be creative.” And I think: cancel your Facebook account. If you have time to get on social media to tell me how busy you are, then you have time to pursue your creative interests.”  Doing the right thing takes time and effort, but practicing creative problem solving will become more streamlined and instinctive.

Consider the genius in the unexpected response from King Solomon when confronted with two women both claiming to be the mother of the same child.  Wisdom is not just a knowledge issue, it is a practical issue as well; that is, what we know has to be applied–we need to do something with it.  Our creative ability gives us range and diversity when applying what is necessary–when it is most needed.

Further reading:

Creativity is not only about the left brain here’s why
No one is too busy to be creative
Giving up is the enemy of creativity
How to free your innate creativity

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