August 25, 2015

Creative Geniuses

Art by AnnSoDesign
"Ideas can't be created out of nothing. Ideas are created by you when you take something and combine it with something else." [Dean Keith Simonton] Logical thinkers will exclude the things that can't be combined and creative thinkers don't exclude anything.

Thus starts an interesting interview of Creative Thinkering's author Michael Michalko (which you can read fully here).

Michalko goes on to say that "genius is tantamount to th[e] theory of evolution, because genius requires the production of many ideas"--many through the forced and challenging combination of two dissimilar things--of which only a select few will survive (just like a select few genetic mutations that create new species will survive, while the majority perish). Or, as Da Vinci called it, "connecting the unconnected."

The chief reason why so many are blocked from thinking creatively, according to him, is because

Why? Because schools format kids to fit into neat little boxes, all carefully labeled, so as not to disturb society's status quo, for "people tend to believe the conventional wisdom, which is that creativity is somehow an asset that only a few people have," just like they think being critical thinkers or understanding math is.

But I am a living example that the latter is not true: I absolutely abhorred math when I was in high school. I had nightmares about it, even had a near panic attack when I found out I had to take it as a requirement for my major (at the time I thought computer science and computer art were one and the same thing...tells you how little I knew about computers!). But the professors at my university were so wonderful and so evidently enjoyed teaching that I got to ask all my questions and receive answers (something that never happened to me in all my time in high school!) until I finally understood the why and how of all these math concepts that had eluded me before. Since then, I am a firm believer that, although it may take longer for some to learn certain topics (math or otherwise), with the right teachers and practice, people can learn any concept, whether math or another creative endeavor!

Anyway, enough with that aside.  The point that Michalko wants to make is that we create our own barriers. So if we're told since infancy that we're not creative, that our art sucks and we should stick to mechanical topics, for instance, then we slowly come to believe that truth and thus prevent ourselves from achieving any creative undertaking. Whereas if we don't know something's "impossible" to do, then we won't stop trying until we accomplish it (or we'll die trying, but that's a rather gloomy prospect).

Another key point to take away from this interview is that genius creative thinkers produce an inordinate number of bad ideas. And they're completely fine with it! Because "you've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince charming" is a saying that definitely works in this instance. And making mistakes or coming up with bad ideas shouldn't scare you either. In fact, it should excite and inspire you (more so, I'd imagine, than the original intent for the maxim)!

So don't find excuses not to do what you want to do (adversity will only make you stronger if you keep on fighting, as Abe Lincoln said, grosso modo), and stay positive no matter what, even if others try to bring you down for it (if you find it hard to do, remember that Einstein's grade school teacher told his parents he was mentally disturbed!) :)

These were only a few of the interview's salient points, and I highly suggest you check it out if you have the time.

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