If you haven’t done so already, you must watch Sir Ken Robinson’s wonderful TED conference talk “Do schools kill creativity.” He’s got the timing and wit of a comedian combined with the uncommon insights into future of learning and business. View it here.
According to Robinson, the problem with creativity is not that we lack it, but that we don’t really get much of a chance to nurture or explore it. And this isn’t our fault. Robinson says we’ve unlearned it as a result of traditional learning models that privilege literacy and numeracy above other forms of learning and effectively “kill” the original gift of creativity we all possess.
I’ll admit, as a professional I’m often guilty of end-product, outcomes focused thinking. For example, my initial misgivings about posting a blog. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hit a home run with every post. The thing is, nobody hits a home run every time. And yet, this is professional model of excellence. With that model, there is no room for mistakes, play or any of the other forms of creativity. Sure, this post may not be the best thing I’ve ever written but the goal here is ideas – not ideals.
As with my marathon training, the true heart of exceptional results is in the training, learning and trying that precedes the finish line. What makes me a writer or a runner isn’t the finish line but the process involved in becoming. Zen Buddhist’s call this Shoshin, or beginner’s mind. I call it creativity. Here are a few principles:
- Make mistakes faster
- Forget about good
- Allow events to change you
- Process is more important than outcome
- Everyone’s a leader
- Don’t be cool
- Ask stupid questions
These are just a few of my favourite points from Canadian designer Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for growth. Mau’s manifesto is one of the most succinct articulations of creative process I’ve come across. Do yourself a favour: Stop reading this post (or better yet, open another browser window) and print the whole thing up then tape it up to the wall next to your desk. See what happens.
Make some mistakes. Don’t be cool. Allow events to change you.
Start making the future into what you want it to be, rather than letting others define it for you.
Further reading: Why professors don’t dance Ken Robinson on the limitations of the academic model of intelligence
Further viewing: Another favourite of mine, Milton Glaser on creativity