What Kind of Creative Person Are You?

By Douglas Eby

Caltech chapter of the Society of Women EngineersWe may watch a movie or TV show, read a novel or listen to music, and appreciate that the authors, those identified as artists, are certainly “creative types” – but what about the producers and set designers?

Or the computer engineers at digital animation companies like Pixar?

The MacArthur Foundation has a mission to “support creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world” and acknowledges there are many kinds of creators, awarding its renowned fellowships to a wide range of people: playwrights, novelists, dancers, botanists, economists, chemists, physicians, psychologists and many others.

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Natalie Fobes on Pursuing Creative Passion

By Douglas Eby

Natalie Fobes - pipelineHow does our self concept, our identity, affect creative expression?

How do we find creative passions and how does pursuing them demand changes in our life?

One example of an artist who has addressed these questions is Natalie Fobes.

A bio on her site summarizes some of her personal journey and work:

“Not many photographers have faced winds of 90 knots and seas of 40 feet while on a fishing boat in the middle of the Bering Sea.

“Few can describe the bitter cold of a Siberian winter while camped out with Chukchi reindeer herders. Or say that their first client was National Geographic Magazine.

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Can People With ADHD Be More Creative?

By Douglas Eby

A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people.

Lisa Ling - brain-graphicThis is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project.

She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”

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Heidi Grant Halvorson on Creative Success

By Douglas Eby

Heidi Grant HalvorsonOne of the themes of creativity research, and many psychologists and creativity coaches, is how crucial beliefs and attitudes are in developing our creative abilities.

Psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson talks in the audio clip below about the prevalent idea of ‘genius’ for whether someone can be creative – or even aspire to be.

She also writes about focus and creating, and that “to be a successful creative, you need to not only be a good generator, but also a good evaluator. The problem is that in practice, it’s remarkably hard to be both.

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Misfits and Innovators

By Douglas Eby

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.” Steve Jobs

According to some writers and research, some of the “big names” of creativity and innovation share personal qualities with various sorts of “misfits.”

In her Forbes magazine article, writer Erica Swallow refers to the book “The Innovator’s DNA” which lists several “disruptive innovators” including a number of creative and business leaders such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Meg Whitman (eBay) and Sharon Aby (Beyond Ideas).

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Patrick Stewart, Trauma and Creative Work

By Douglas Eby

Most of us experience some kind of trauma in life.

Patrick StewartHow does it impact creative people, and how can creative expression help?

Acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart is one of many artists who have been deeply impacted by trauma in early life.

An interview article notes he “was for decades a man plagued by fear and stifled by rage. The roots of his struggle go back to a difficult childhood, marked by poverty and abuse that took him years to understand.”

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Do Impostor Feelings Dampen Your Creativity?

By Douglas Eby

Even very talented people may experience fraud or impostor feelings, which can lead to insecurity about their abilities, despite their accomplishments.

Jodie Foster holding her Sherry Lansing Leadership Award“I always feel like something of an impostor. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Jodie Foster made that comment in her acceptance speech as recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award several years ago.

A highly accomplished actor, director and producer, Foster also said, “I suppose that’s my one little secret, the secret of my success.”

From my article: Jodie Foster on impostor feelings and faking it.

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Are Brains of Artists Different?

By Douglas Eby

With more and more brain imaging studies in the media, relating to different areas of human behavior including being creative, it is worth noting there are critiques of the validity and meaning of imaging technology.

brain scan-Human Connectome ProjectThe image is from an article whose authors comment, “The brain is said to be the final scientific frontier, and rightly so in our view.

“Yet, in many quarters, brain-based explanations appear to be granted a kind of inherent superiority over all other ways of accounting for human behaviour.

“We call this assumption ‘neurocentrism’ – the view that human experience and behaviour can be best explained from the predominant or even exclusive perspective of the brain.”

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Setbacks and Mistakes and Innovation

By Douglas Eby

bridge-to-nowhereWhat seems to be a setback, error or limitation, may often be valuable for encouraging more creative thinking and innovation.

Valerie Young writes about two “mistakes” that resulted in very successful products:

“Did you know, for example, that Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first thought to be a bad batch of glue?

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A Calling to Be Creative

By Douglas Eby

Lupita Nyong’o and fatherWhat leads, urges, even compels so many of us to be creatively expressive?

Given that everyone is creative to some degree, why do many people choose careers in the arts, or work that actively engages their creativity?

Most of us will never be actors or other filmmakers – especially ones that are seen and acknowledged publicly – but many of those creators talk about what calls them to engage in creative work, despite the challenges.

One example: Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress on March 2, 2014 for her role in “12 Years a Slave.”

In her moving acceptance speech, she noted one source of inspiration for her portrayal of a slave: “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”

She also thanked director Steve McQueen: “You charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, it’s been the joy of my life.”

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