"Spend your time collecting the dots, the insights and experiences, and trust that in their inevitable connection you will find your creativity."
I find myself often confused on why certain people are labeled as creative when others are not. I've been called creative by other people before, and many times have heard people describe themselves as not creative. Why? I think it's built into human nature to desire creativity, but that people who assume they don't have that quality have shut down their ability to access it, or to access it without self-judgement. I believe no one person is more creative than another, though one person may be more willing to be creative than another.
In my life I see creativity as being sought from three areas of life: Experience, Curiosity, and Perception.
Experience. The more we experience the more we begin to understand the world around us, and most important the greater our understanding of what is yet to be seen, heard, smelt, touched, and understood. Our foundation for questioning the world is broadened. John Lennon said (and The Red Hot Chili Peppers famously sang): “The more I see the less I know” -- the better someone understands physics, the more they understand how much is yet to be understood about our universe. The more seasoned a neurologist, the deeper and more profound their questions about the science behind our functioning minds. But as you can imagine, the more anyone learns through depth and breadth of experience, the closer they become to breaking through to a higher creative level of thought.
Curiosity. Curiosity breeds that breadth of experience that we all desire. It is deduction, experimentation and asking a lot of questions. It’s being confident enough to even ask the question to which you are “supposed” to know the answer. It’s about tasting the things you never thought to eat, and smelling a flower just to see if it has a scent. Curiosity is a product of the just-because. Next time you you do something routine, like turning on a light switch or brush your teeth, allow yourself to wonder how that came to be. Who invented the toothbrush and what tool came before that? How and where does the energy come from that allows you with a flick of a switch to bring light into your home? The more questions you mind asks the more data points your mind stores. If there are no new ideas, only new ways of formulating them, new ways of shaping them and new ways of combining them together or separating them apart. Staying open to all possibilities allows for a deeper connection to your creative energies.
Spend your time collecting the dots, the insights and experiences, and trust that in their inevitable connection you will find your creativity.
Perception. Perception is how we see things. It’s our decision to see the world both as it is and how it can be. It’s seeing an object whether a dinner dish or an electric guitar as a single object or as a combination of pieces. Its not just seeing that slice of pizza in front of you, but seeing a tomato plant as it grows, vine-ripened tomatoes before they are stewed, the cow before she is milked, the milk strained to cheese and the basil as it is clipped from the ground. The more you begin to see everything around you as both a part of the larger picture and simultaneously the larger picture in itself, the greater ability your mind has to make connections between memories and ideas. Every new idea and understanding is one new opportunity for a connection to be made to other past or buried ideas you've already had.
As Steve Jobs famously said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” So spend your time collecting the dots, the insights and experiences, and trust that in their inevitable connection you will find your creativity.
These three steps are what keep me thinking different, but I'd love to hear more about your steps toward creativity in the comments below.