Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical and full of contradictions.
Eminent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that creative people ‘contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.’
Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people. In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:
1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.
They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.
2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”
3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.
“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”
4.Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.
Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.
5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.
We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.
6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.
It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.
7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.
8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.
9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility.
10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.
It’s impossible to be creative without having a deep understanding of an area of culture, but a creative person has to be rebellious and iconoclastic to break away from the safety of tradition and make something different.
Although a creative person’s contradictions are perplexing and frustrating to others, they are the source of their creativity. They can see the world in all its complexity. There is pressure in our culture to be clear what you stand for, make a decision and stick to it. It’s practically a criminal offence to change your mind. The result is rigid thinking. The creative mind has to contain multiple perspectives simultaneously. Contradicting yourself is a sign that you are thinking creatively.
From Creativity at Work
What is Creativity in Business?
Creativity is a crucial part of the innovation equation. Creativity requires whole-brain thinking; roght-brain imagination, artistry and intuition, plus left-brain logic and planning.
Creativity is a core competency for leaders and managers and one of the best ways to set a company apart from the competition.
Corporate Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Generating fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing market, are part of the intellectual capital that give a company its competitive edge.
Are you looking to hire creative employees at your company?
As Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner points out, “if you want to find and hire exceptionally creative people, you need to find people with diversity in their backgrounds. This is not only a sign of creativity, but it also indicates a potential employee with more diversity of experience, knowledge and thought than a person who has followed a clearly defined career path.” He suggests to look for the following:
- Diversity and International Experience
“The most important thing you should look for is international living experience. Not international travel, but living and working (or studying) experience. Research has demonstrated that living overseas permanently boosts an individual’s creativity. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, it is the only proven way to boost permanently creativity. So, look for foreigners living in your country as well as nationals who have lived and worked overseas. Presumably, though it has not been tested, doing multiple international stints and living in very different cultures further enhance creativity.The second best characteristic to international experience is diversity of experience. Rather than look for people who have followed a very narrow career path, look for people who have had more varied experience. Look for people who have done work significantly different from that of the position you are seeking to fulfill. If you want an IT manager, someone who has spent two years selling furniture or a year teaching skiing and has additional IT experience is likely to be more creative than someone who has only had IT experience. Moreover, she will bring diversity of thought to the IT department — and that boosts collaborative creativity.Aside from work experience, look for evidence of diversity and unusual points in education, hobbies and elsewhere. A marketing manager who has a degree in philosophy followed up by an MBA will probably be more creative than the marketing manager who has a business administration degree and an MBA. She will certainly bring new perspectives to the marketing department.”
“Having an original sense of humour — that is, being able to make jokes or be funny on your own, rather than repeating well known jokes — is an indicator of creativity. Humour is about seeing things in unusual ways that are unexpected. To be able to do that requires creativity. This does not mean that every creative person has a sense of humour. Many do not. But anyone with an original sense of humour is almost certainly very creative.Having a sense of humour will probably not be apparent in an applicant’s CV and most people believe they have a sense of humour. But if the applicant keeps a blog, is active on Twitter or participates publicly in other social media where she demonstrates an original sense of humour, she is probably more creative than most.”
“Highly creative people tend to be rebellious. They think differently from averagely creative people, they tend to do things in unconventional ways and they are not afraid to provoke others, including senior management. This is not usually because they choose to be rebellious. Rather, highly creative people think differently and make decisions differently than do averagely creative people. Often, highly creative people are blind to the relevant conventions. They are likely to believe their ideas are better than more conventional ideas.”
“That pretty much sums up highly creative people: they are different. They will have different backgrounds from averagely creative people — and that background may very well include international living and working experience. They will behave differently from averagely creative people and they will offer different results: creative results. If you keep this in mind, it will not be hard to find and hire creative people. The challenge will be challenging them sufficiently to keep them!”