Photo by kasrak
Seth Godin posted some interesting thoughts on creativity this week:
What does it mean to be creative?
You could watch the most non-creative, linear-thinking, do-it-by-the-book cop work to solve a crime and you’d be amazed at how creative her solutions seem to be. Creative for you, because you’ve never been in that territory before, it’s all new, it’s all at the edges. Boring for her, because it’s the same thing she does every time. It’s not creative at all.
For me, creativity is the stuff you do at the edges. But the edges are different for everyone, and the edges change over time. If you visualize the territory you work in as an old Boston Bruins sweatshirt, realize that over time, it stretches out, it gets looser, the edges move away. Stuff that would have been creative last year isn’t creative at all today, because it’s not near the edges any more.
A couple of thoughts in response:
1. Seth’s cop example is similar to Darwin’s approach to the problem of evolution: by talking to pigeon fanciers, horse breeders, taxonomists and other specialists, he assembled all the pieces of the evolutionary jigsaw. Yet the specialists weren’t doing anything ‘creative’, just the same thing they always did. The creative magic came from collecting the different pieces and seeing how the edges fitted together.
Creative thinking takes place neither inside the box nor outside the box, but at the edge of the box.
(Chris Bilton, Management and Creativity)
Seth and Chris aren’t telling us to abandon everything we know and break all the rules – they’re encouraging us to test the boundaries, to find the razor’s edge between knowing and not-knowing, familiarity and strangeness, confidence and doubt.
That’s what keeps things interesting – working to the limits of your ability, with that twinge in your stomach telling you you’re doing a high wire act and you could fall.
How Edgy Are You?
Where are the edges of your current knowledge and abilities?
How have they shifted from a few years ago?
How do you challenge yourself to keep things fresh and exciting?
About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet and creative coach.