As an anthropologist, I view creativity and ritual as essentially opposed in many senses. Ritual is about repetition; it is a rule-based and (relatively) invariant performance of a physical movement or movements again and again. Creativity, of course, is all about the new — the unexpected, the breaking of rules, the violation of standardised patterns.
Yet these two phenomena can go together. In fact, ritual can be your secret weapon for increasing your creative intelligence and living a more creative life.
There’s a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal called “As Pandemic Slows Business, Workers Fret: Is My Job Relevant?” It relates the increasing number of people starting to question the very purpose and meaning of their job during the lockdown.
Without the social side of office working — as I like to put it, servicing your primate nature — many are confronted with focusing much more closely on the work itself. And what is that work? Does it contribute anything of real value to the world? Does it really mean much to you?
Are you right? Of course you are. We all think we’re right! You’re right about politics. You’re right about those disagreements in your marriage. You’re right about who you are — your critics or enemies don’t know the real you.
As the seventeenth century French writer and author of many a sage maxim François de La Rochefoucauld put it: “Everyone complains of his memory, and no one complains of his judgement.”
Now you may acknowledge that you used to be wrong about something. Ah those naïve days when you saw things very differently until — thank goodness — you woke…
Is creativity a natural gift or something that can be learned? Often people think it’s an either/or situation whereas in fact I think it’s both.
I like to use the analogy of physical flexibility. Can you touch your toes? I can, just. Some people can’t. But some lucky souls are naturally really bendy. I’m not only talking about those with that weird hypermobility thing in their joints which means they can totally freak you out with a single improbable gesture. …
One of the archetypes I like to challenge is the idea of the “mad genius”. It’s not that many creative geniuses are not “mad” in some way, either suffering from a true mental and/or emotional disorder (e.g. Vincent Van Gogh) or just eccentric, quirky or odd (Igor Stravinsky, Nikola Tesla et al). It’s that, on closer inspection, any correlation between madness and creativity can represent a misleading characterisation of creativity itself.
The first problem is that most “mad” types aren’t creative. Just being crazy, unbalanced or a bit weird is no guarantor of doing or making or saying anything imaginative…
Imagine taking one of the scientific tests of creative thinking ability — which are actually considered ways to measure creative potential — such as JP Guilford’s Alternate Uses Task or the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking devised by Paul Torrance.
You score low — pity. Guess you should forget about trying to think highly creative thoughts since your chances of becoming a properly creative person appear dead in the water. Try data processing or manual labour instead.
Scientific tests of creativity are notoriously artificial and problematic, with nothing like the validity of conventional IQ tests, though they’re testing very different…
Oh no, it’s Turner Prize time again. That is, time for the vast majority of people to cast their eyes to the sky and wonder how such work garners serious attention both inside and outside the art world.
I think the two main criticisms the naysayers level at Turner, however, are slightly wide of the mark.
The first is the “But is it art?” view. Many scoff at the bizarre installations or multimedia works because they are a far cry from “real art” — works by the Rembrandts, Michelangelos and maybe Van Goghs of this world. This modern crap is…
Creativity is all about overturning assumptions. And because I like to be creative when discussing creativity, I often challenge commonly held ideas about it. One is that creativity and art are synonymous, and that artists are by definition creative. Let me show you why this simply isn’t true, and why that’s important for the rest of us to understand.
First, a definition. Scientists’ simplest way to describe a creative idea is to say it is both (a) new and (b) valuable, valued or useful — which is essentially saying a significant number of people like it and want it. If…
If leaders do one thing, it’s decide things. They make judgements and direct the actions of others. Mostly, this does not, and should not, involve creativity. But some of the very biggest and most consequential decisions you take as a leader can rely on a capacity to be creative.
It’s vital to note that when I say “creative decisions” I don’t mean decisions about creativity (like making a call on whether to use new marketing content A or B). I’m talking about decisions that are creative.
How can a decision be creative?
Creativity requires a special, enhanced kind of discipline. Discuss. Or rather, let me explain.
Success in any field is usually dependent, perhaps more than talent, intelligence or any other trait, on what psychologist Angela Duckworth calls grit. Give or take a nuance, this quality used to be referred to as will, human will or willpower. To attain your goals you need to possess focus, determination, self-control — in essence, the sheer will to make it happen.
Now we don’t tend to associate a strong will with unconventional types like creative thinkers. Usually, they are thought of as disorganised, unreliable, even…
Co-founder of Creative Being