10 Things You Didn’t Know About Exceptionally Creative People

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

  1. Exceptional creators sleep more hours than the average person. (Harvard researcher Jeffrey Ellenbogen found that after sleep, people are 33% more creative!)
  2. Researchers have found that people who have lived in more than one country (multinationals, biculturals, immigrants ect.) are more creative.
  3. 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).
  4. 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”.
  5. Exceptional creators are masters of the discipline of play, the ability to imagine and envision possible worlds and alternate realities.
  6. 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!)
  7. 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.
  8. Creative people work harder than most other people, usually at researching and acquiring new information. Paradoxically, they also take more time off.
  9. 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”! 😉
  10. 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.
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How to Fail Successfully

What is the difference between failure that leads to innovation and failure that leads to… more failure?

What does it mean when people say, “That was a successful failure”?

The answer, researchers believe, lies not in the failure itself but how we recall it or, more precisely, how we store it. Successful failures are those people who remember exactly where and how they failed. This way, when they encounter the same problem again, they’re able to retrieve these “failure indices” quickly and efficiently. They don’t make the same mistake twice.

It seems that the advice we were given as children when confronted with failure, “Just forget it and move on” is wrong. “Remember it and move on” is the way to success.

The guiding principle for “successful failure” is the scientific method. Fail until something works. It’s about failing in a thoughtful and efficient manner. Failure can be a wonderful learning experience as long as it’s in the aid of some continuing process. The important thing is to fail early. Kill the ones that aren’t working right away.

fertilizer failure

Think of failure like fertilizer. It must be used by a skilled farmer, otherwise it is useless and smells bad.

Living in the Present

Some people live in the past, we call them stuck. Some people live in the future, always striving, and we call them successful.

But the truth is, these people are no better off than those who are stuck in the past because the only truly successful people are the ones living in the present.

America’s Obsession with “Success”

A mockery of American culture’s obsession with “Success”. Fair warning: Terrifying facial expressions abound.