Maybe it’s because of the work I do, but I tend to find myself surrounded by creative types most of the time. Sure, I’ve worked with my fair share of artists, performers, writers and the like. But surprisingly, many of the people I’ve found to be most creative are not those whom one might necessarily think of, when imagining a “creative” person: scientists, CEO’s, engineers, surgeons, small business owners, and yeah, even some accountants and bankers.
I’ve noticed a few things, over the years, in working with creatives. One aspect is that, although they may be dissimilar in many respects, creative people tend to share many of the same attitudes and employ many of the same techniques, in pursuit of whatever their endeavor might be.
I recently found myself jotting down a short list, of descriptive attributes one might use, in sketching out an accurate avatar of a highly creative person. I’d like to share that list with you.
As we go through these attributes, I’d like for you to think about the person that I’m describing, and compare him or her to people you might know or come in contact with at work, in your neighborhood, at the gym, or even right at home.
It might also be helpful to revisit this list frequently, and be reminded of the traits, which if they are practiced regularly, can lead you to live a more creative life, yourself.
Another good idea is to project this image of the highly creative person on your own actions—then judge for yourself, what areas of your own life might benefit from adopting some of these traits.
The first item on my list deals with self-awareness. The highly creative person seems to deeply understand something basic about the human mind— that it holds powerful, transformative energy within it. It can provide anything a person earnestly wants in life. I believe the author, Napoleon Hill, was the first to express this concept it in these particular words: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Some years later, Albert Einstein, when talking about the same subject put it even more succinctly: “Imagination is everything.” But the concept of using our minds to transform reality is far from a new one—the apostle Mark, quoting Jesus, talked about the power of our belief and vision to move mountains. The highly creative person knows all of this to be true—because they routinely create physical reality from nothing more than a mental vision.
The human mind is also a vast repository of ideas and experiences and creative imagination. But one thing the creative person realizes—that others might not— is that in order to make frequent withdrawals, one must also make frequent deposits. This understanding is likely why the creative person seems to have an insatiable hunger for new and different knowledge. They crave it. Like a fat kid craves cake, they never refuse an opportunity to feed their mind with new ideas and information, no matter where they discover it or who offers it.
When I first started out as a speaker, I worked the circuit with a friend of mine—a veteran motivational speaker. Whenever we stayed at a hotel, that might be hosting a different convention from the one we were speaking at, he always make it a point to mingle with the attendees, and drop in on some of the presentations, to listen to the speakers. He told me he picked up a lot of great ideas that way. At the time, I thought he was a little wacky, but I soon found myself doing the very same thing. I have to admit this sort of behavior is a little outside my natural comfort zone, but whenever I do it, I never regret it. I’ve met some real interesting people and learned some really cool stuff by crashing other people’s meetings.
The next item on my list deals with open-mindedness. The highly creative person respects the thoughts, opinions and perspectives of others. He actively reaches out for ideas that are different from his own.
Everyone has ideas and many of them are excellent. By welcoming different perspectives, listening to the ideas and opinions of others and then thinking them completely through before drawing a conclusion, the highly creative person avoids the destructive trap of closed-mindedness. In doing so, he also maintains a climate of creativity around himself, which in turn, attracts even more new and good ideas.
Another thing I noticed about the highly creative person, is that he or she always seems to have a pad and pen on hand, to jot down ideas that would otherwise slip their mind. Ideas are slippery things. They have a way of getting away from us.
Many a life has been changed and many a fortune made with a single thought or simple idea. By capturing ideas and thoughts on paper, highly creative people don’t risk losing a great idea to distraction or a bad memory.
It’s important to note here that the act of writing, as we’ve discussed many times before, is not the same as a keystroke. The movement of the pen across the paper stimulates an entirely different area of our brain than does tapping letters out with our thumbs.
Those close to me tend to associate me with the small, leather notebook that seems to follow me wherever I go. I’ve carried a notebook with me since I was a kid, and as a result, probably could fill a small library with hand written notes, doodles and rants. When we were first married, one of the first gifts my wife got me was a beautiful, lighted pen and pad set— to keep by my bedside. I still use it to make notes and jot down thoughts and ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, or when I awake, first thing in the morning. Many a bestselling book, hit song and cancer cure has been born the same way.
Well, there are more traits on my list, but I’m afraid they will have to wait till next week.
Before we part ways, let’s take a quick look back at the attributes of a highly creative person that we outlined today— so maybe you can ruminate on them.
The first attribute is the awareness of the power of the human mind to transform a vision into a physical reality.
Next, is the understanding that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. And some of the best ideas come from one’s opposite point of view. So highly creative people are always on the lookout for thoughts, ideas and opinions that differ from their own. And when they stumble on something that is new, different or in direct opposition to their current beliefs, they don’t rush to judgment or quickly dismiss it. They think it all the way through, before determining its value.
The creative person is a good listener and has a sincere interest in others, so she always makes sure the other person remains at the forefront of the conversation, and their ideas take center stage.
And finally, the creative person always has a pad and pencil with them, as a means of immediately recording interesting thoughts and new ideas, or a simply a sketch or a doodle.
I hope you’ll join me again next week, when we complete my little, thumbnail sketch of the highly creative person. Until then, review these attributes a few times and maybe give the unfamiliar ones a chance to seep into your own way of thinking.