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.
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, He will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather He will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?”
― Mother Teresa
This is one of my absolute favorite quotes from Mother Teresa. It reminds me of Howard Thurman when he wrote, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
The message in both is plain and clear. Passion is our purpose. Figure out what you love and do it as often as you can. Then share it with as many people as you can. So that they may be inspired to find and follow their own passion.
Spread the love.
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. ” – James Michener
Just got off the phone with an entrepreneur who has spent the last fifty years of his life working on a new drug, trying to get it into the pharmaceutical market. He is now 85 years old, in and out of the hospital, and he finally has a company interested in it. Still, this man may very well die without ever earning a penny for fifty years of work.
He told me, “That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I believe in the work that I’ve dedicated myself to, and I’ve loved every minute of the process.”
Amen. There’s your inspiration for the day, folks.
A family can be likened to a gymnasium. It is where we get most of our “love workouts”.
I am an admitted workaholic. My drive to succeed is relentless, compulsory, and at times unnerving. I have noticed that I am never satisfied. And I don’t think that I ever will be. As soon as one goal is accomplished there is instantly another higher goal in its place. By work alone, I will never be satisfied, I realize. While this focus and drive is perhaps a strength of mine, it is also by far my greatest weakness. Work can be a distraction from the Real Satisfier if we aren’t careful. For the workaholics among us, may we always aim not to worship our work but to instead use our work as worship.
Too often artists begin to perceive their work as a product of their own intellect; forgetting that the mind is the great deceiver and that creativity is in fact a gift entrusted to the artist. Suddenly and inevitably, the work becomes more about the ego and less about the art itself, changing the person from an artist to an egomaniac. In my opinion, this is the most common danger faced by the artist of today and also the greatest tragedy of art.