I recently completed Dr. Keith Sawyer’s book, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the subject or curious about how to enhance their own creativity. (Visit his blog at keithsawyer.wordpress.com) In Zig Zag, Dr. Sawyer outlines a variety of exercises and tactics to help you along the creative process. He also provides valuable insight into the nature of the creative process itself. In his book, I learned some surprising things that exceptionally creative people all have in common. Below I have listed 10 things that you (probably) didn’t know about exceptionally creative people.
Exceptional creators sleep more hours than the average person. (Harvard researcher Jeffrey Ellenbogen found that after sleep, people are 33% more creative!)
Researchers have found that people who have lived in more than one country (multinationals, biculturals, immigrants ect.) are more creative.
Exceptional creators aren’t born that way. Creativity is close to 80% learned and acquired (according to Hal Gregerson, a professor at INSEAD Business School).
Successful creators are curious by nature. They ask questions and listen closely to the answers, even when the information has no obvious relationship to what they’re working on at the moment. In other words, exceptional creators are experts at “connecting the dots”.
Exceptional creators are masters of the discipline of play, the ability to imagine and envision possible worlds and alternate realities.
Most exceptional creators are working on multiple projects at a time. (They’re using these various areas of focus to make even more connections and thus advance their work!)
Creative people are exceptionally self-aware. They are constantly reflecting on what they’re doing at any given moment and they’re constantly listening to themselves.
Creative people work harder than most other people, usually at researching and acquiring new information. Paradoxically, they also take more time off.
About 25% of the world’s most exceptional creators engaged in the creation of elaborate imaginary worlds as children. (So think twice next time you want to make fun of someone’s “imaginary friend”! 😉
Exceptional creators make a conscious effort to introduce change into their lives, or to put themselves in situations in which they’re more likely to experience the unexpected.
“Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder.” –G.K. Chesterton
Children are naturally creative primarily because they’re curious and playful. The experiment endlessly, let their minds wander freely, and they experience imaginative worlds with such detail that it’s often clever.
Although the adult world is filled with deadlines and pressure, we have to continue to make time to play. It is our duty and our right to create space in our day for imagination. Perhaps then we will be as clever as children.
Happy Monday! As we start our work week, I wanted to remind us all of the importance of play. What exactly is play?
Play is light hearted and enjoyable. When it stops being fun, people stop playing. It is voluntary yet it operates within given boundaries. It is trivial although the outcomes are often highly significant. It is completely absorbing, the opposite of repetition and routine. And finally, it is necessary in order to live a meaningful existence.
We can (and should) grow up but we should never stop playing.
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”
― Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
I don’t know why so many people say, “Do I have to grow up?”
Perhaps it was Peter Pan, inspiring us all to be children forever.
And I agree with Peter Pan that we should all strive to have the hearts of children, no matter how old we become. The child’s innocence, honesty, openness, curiosity, wonder…they’re all things we shouldn’t let the years steal from us.
But added years and increasing miles doesn’t result in decreased value. We’re not like cars. We’re living beings!
For that which is alive, growth is a wonderful blessing.
Think about it. Each year things seem to clarify a bit more. Each year we grow stronger and stronger, more sure of ourselves and our Maker.
What’s not to love about growing up? About growing at all, in fact?