How does the intensity, complexity and “border-crossing” of creative people encourage being more creative?
Creative people often have personalities and inner experiences that are intense and beyond ordinary in multiple ways. [Read Part 1.]
Creativity author and teacher Ken Robinson thinks “To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.”
[From post: Reclaiming Our Creativity – Part 2.]
One part of learning to be more creative is to encourage shifting between convergent and divergent thinking.
In her informative article “Be More Creative Today” Lisa Rivero notes Robinson points out that divergent thinking is “not the same thing as creative thinking” but that it is an “essential capacity for creativity.”
She adds, “Robinson refers to a study in the book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today, by George Land and Beth Jarman, that followed this creative capacity throughout childhood. When tested as kindergarteners, 98 percent of the study’s subjects scored at the genius level in divergent thinking. When they were ten, 32 percent of the same group scored as high, and by age fifteen, only 10 percent made the cut.
“When 200,000 adults were given the same test, only two percent tested at the genius level.”
Rivero suggests a way to “help children to practice skills of divergent thinking as they grow [is] by helping them at least some of the time to aim for quantity over quality, without pre-emptive judgment. … Children will have plenty of opportunities to practice convergent skills of analyzing and narrowing for quality, but we often have to plan consciously for the skills that allow them to practice divergent fluency.”
And that is also helpful, in some stages of creation, for adults.
Although producing a “finished” piece of creative work needs judgment and refinement, during the process we can benefit from crossing the boundary into more divergent thinking.
[Also see my post How Many Uses for a Shoe? Divergent Thinking, ADD and Creativity.]
Lateral thinking is a related idea.
Rivero notes this phrase coined by Edward de Bono, “can spur creativity by introducing the unexpected. De Bono explains that being able to think laterally is important because, most of the time, when we are stuck on a problem, we simply try harder in the same direction. Lateral thinking is not about trying harder but trying differently, changing directions, sometimes in ways that seem illogical or impractical.”
Book: Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Dr. Edward de Bono.
Encouraging More Boundary Crossing
Rivero quotes Dan Pink (author of the book A Whole New Mind) on the creative and achievement values of boundary crossing:
“What’s the most prevalent, and perhaps the most important, prefix of our times? (Pink says) Multi. Our jobs require multitasking. Our communities are multicultural. Our entertainment is multimedia. While detailed knowledge of a single area once guaranteed success, today the top rewards go to those who can operate with equal aplomb in starkly different realms.
“I call these people ‘boundary crossers.’ They develop expertise in multiple spheres, they speak different languages, and they find joy in the rich variety of human experience. They live multilives-because that’s more interesting and, nowadays, more effective.”
Rivero notes Larry Livingston argues in his article “Teaching Creativity in Higher Education” that “today’s generation of college students shows up in our classrooms already expert boundary crossers. They have grown up in a world where research is done not in limited, discipline-specific journals but through multi-disciplinary Google searches and collaborative social media.”
She is author of a number of books, including A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents.