Last week, I began sharing my thumbnail sketch of a highly creative person, in an attempt to help us all become more creative.
We learned that highly creative people tend to operate with a high degree of self-awareness. They are fully aware of the power of their mind— to transform a mental vision into a physical reality.
We also learned that highly creative people are active observers— deliberately in search of new ideas, opinions and ways of thinking, that stretch their minds and challenge their own way of thinking.
When they encounter new ideas or concepts, or ways of thinking and performing that radically differ from their own, they don’t rush to judgment or quickly dismiss them. They instead think deeply about the disparity— weighing the new ideas against their current beliefs and searching for whatever nuggets of insight they might gain from the experience.
The highly creative person also tends to be a good and empathetic listener—always interested more in what others have to say, than in waiting for their next opportunity to talk. This sincere interest in others, translates into a climate of creativity, which, like a magnet, continues to attracts interesting people and creative ideas to them. And when they discover a new insight— with pen and paper at the ready— they capture it, before it can slip away.
This week I want to continue our conversation, of the common attributes of the highly creative person, with the next point on my list— goals and attitudes.
Rather than floating from thing to thing, the highly creative person tends to have a clearly defined set of goals— toward which he or she is always working.
The highly creative person anticipates achievement. He expects to win. Whatever he starts, he knows he will finish. A half-done project will torment him until it is completed. This natural drive to win and see thing through from conception to completion, serves to make the highly creative person an above-average producer— a natural plus-factor and a positive force on all those around him.
The highly creative person tends to look at problems differently than most people. It’s not that she looks forward to problems, but she does not run from them, either. In her mind, problems are simply another opportunity to ply her creativity—like puzzles waiting to be solved. She inherently seems to understand that every life-changing innovation, every technological advancement, every architectural wonder, every medical breakthrough or hugely successful business model, once started out as a nagging problem, in need of a solution.
The highly creative person also knows the value of giving himself and his ideas away. Doing things for others is a vital part of his life. He operates under the natural law of reciprocity— in that, the hand that gives is the same hand that gathers.
When the highly creative person is exposed to a new idea, she runs it through a series of steps designed to improve it.
She’s always thinking in new directions—flipping concepts and scenarios over and over in her mind—turning things inside out and upside down. She builds big ideas from little ones, and shapes new ideas from old ones. She even looks for opportunities to group conflicting ideas together with one another—combining, adapting, substituting, maximizing, minimizing, rearranging, reversing and distilling them.
Always interested in challenging the status quo, revealing hidden truths and exposing venerated falsehoods, the highly creative person tends to be a master at asking deeply probing questions.
Questions are the tools of intelligence, and the highly creative person uses them often, and to everyone’s advantage. He makes his inquiries, not in an accusatory fashion, the way an interrogator might, but in a polite and giving way— lowering the defenses, bolstering the ego and expanding the mind of the other person in the process. This opens dialogue, and causes the free-flow of information.
The highly creative person values their mental clarity and keen senses, and steers clear of anything that deadens them: noise, fatigue, needless worry, negative people with chronically bad attitudes, booze, and dope.
With respect to the last two, the most creative people I know understand that chemicals, rather than enhancing creativity, destroy it—and tragically, and all too often, destroy the person, himself.
Lastly, the creative person uses her spare time wisely. Many great ideas, books, songs, plays and inventions have been conceived during their creator’s spare time.
I had a roommate who, back in the day, was studying to be a plastic surgeon. In his spare time, he would sculpt various body parts out of clay. The rest of us, living in the house, would get a little pissed-off, when we had to move a dozen clay breasts off the kitchen table before we could eat breakfast. But I’m absolutely certain our old buddy’s current patients, are now benefitting from his former pastimes.
Well, there you have it—my thumbnail sketch of the highly creative person. How does it measure up against your own attitudes and behavior?
Once again, I suggest you to review these attributes from time to time, and give the unfamiliar ones a chance to seep into your subconscious mind. You never know. You just might find yourself changing the way you think— about the way you think.