I’m reading a fantastic book these days. It’s called “The Art of Looking Sideways”… at 533 pages, a light read it is not… But it’s author Alan Fletcher has done an incredible job of creating a work of art that is intense, involving and engaging. I can’t read more than a couple of pages at a time, because I generally start ruminating on the ideas therein, and can’t move forward until I’ve digested what I’ve read.
Arthur Koestler said that “Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.”
(As an aside, we marketers try to influence the habits and behaviours of our target consumers all the time. In fact, that is the only way to actually drive the results that we are seeking – increased revenue, profitability – all that good stuff we spend our days and nights obsessing over. But in order to change habits, we need to change how consumers perceive our brand… and that “Inception” style change is the only way to drive true change in the way consumers interact with our brands…)
So what are some of the attributes of creativity according to Mr Fletcher?
- Challenging assumptions
- Being receptive to new ideas
- Recognizing similarities or differences
- Making unlikely connections
- Taking risks or chances
- Building on ideas to make better ideas
- Looking at things in new ways
- Taking advantage of the unexpected
It was Ambrose Bierce, a journalist in San Fran in the 1880s, who initially described creativity as something that you were born with, a view that was commonly held at the time. I believe that creativity lies inside all of us – but some of us can access it at will, while others either cannot, or will not.
Why? Inhibition! The biggest barrier to creativity is inhibition – not wanting to ‘make a fool of oneself.’
That’s one of the reasons I am so in awe of my children – (all children, really) – because they are unabashedly lacking in inhibitions… Therefore, almost all kids are creative – until we systematically drum the creativity out of them through years of saying – “Uh… I wouldn’t do that, you are going to look so silly!”
I love this definition of creativity provided in the book: “A leap across a chasm not bridgeable by reason”. Neither the author nor I know who said it this way, but it says it perfectly… A true creative act is driven by an insight – a deep flash of ‘a-ha’, an epiphany, a moment of truth – that is completely irrational, and more often than not, completely intuitive. But that will be the subject of another post
Let me know how you define creativity – it would be great to compile a list of the many definitions of this most elusive of concepts!